Community interpreters
Thread poster: Atena Hensch

Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 09:47
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
Jun 5, 2008

Hi there,
I'd like to hear from you, especially community interpreters/telephone interpreter who works with hospitals, community organisations, etc. about your experience, difficulties and how you or your organisation dealt with that. I am an official interpreter myself and I have the idea of setting up an interpreting organisation under the umbrella of another big organisation. Also, we have some problem around code of ethics and sometimes some interpreters don't respect it.
It would be interesting to see what kind of problems people outside of New Zealand have.

Also, do you get supervision or any extra emotional help if you were the interpreter of a very horrible incident such as suicide, murdering, rape, death, etc.



juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Response Jun 6, 2008

Atena, the reason why people don't respond to your post is that it is simply not feasible to tackle the subject - one could write a book about - this way.

For example, I have thousands of hours of community/telephone interpreting experience, and I could talk about it until the cows come home, but that wouldn't necessarily help. Posting about specific problems may be a better option.

In the main time, look for some literature on the subject.
I found these, but I am not familiar with them, so I cannot comment on them. A good library may help.

Sandra Beatriz Hale: Community Interpreting (2007)
Palgrave Macmillan, 9781403940698
(Sandra Hale is Associate Professor and leader of the Interpreting and Translation Research Node, University of Western Sydney, Australia)

Carr, S., R. Roberts, A. Dufour, and D. Steyn (eds) (1997). The Critical Link: Interpreters in the Community. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Nicholson, N.S. (1994). Community Interpreter Training in the United States and the United Kingdom: An Overview of Selected Initiatives. Hermes 12:127-39.

Shackman, Jane. The Right to be Understood: A Handbook on Working With, Employing and Training Community Interpreters. 1984, Cambridge, England, National Extension College.

Wadensj, C. (1998). Interpreting as Interaction. London & New York: Longman

Professionalism and ethics in community interpreting:


Lynda Tharratt  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:47
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
In my experience Jun 7, 2008

One of the agencies I work for as an interpreter has the following hiring process:

1) Interpreters must first pass a provincial government test which consists of two parts: a) sight translating from a text and b) interpreting to a recorded dialogue.
These results are then sent to an independent agency for evaluation.

If you pass the test, then you are eligible for a 5-month training course. This course covers ethics, difficult situations etc. as well as specific terminology. The company has guest speakers come from different social services agencies to talk more about the roles that interpreters play, difficulties they may face and answer questions from the trainees. The course also includes different role-playing exercises.

At the end of the course, there is another exam. If you pass then you are accepted to work as an interpreter.

As far as support, the team in the office generally stands behind their interpreters and free interfaith counselling is offered for people who have experienced job stress.

I think that this system works and the training course is very good. As far as I know, there are very few agencies that offer this kind of training.

I hope this information helps you!

Have a nice weekend,


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