Assessing the need for working with interpreters
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ASSESSING THE NEED FOR & WORKING WITH INTERPRETERS. Jac Griffiths Castlemaine District Community Health (CDCH). Overview. Why Use an Interpreter? Assessing the Need for an Interpreter (5 points) What Is & What is Not Interpreter’s Role? The Benefits of Working With an Interpreter

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Presentation Transcript


Jac Griffiths

Castlemaine District Community Health



  • Why Use an Interpreter?

  • Assessing the Need for an Interpreter (5 points)

  • What Is & What is Not Interpreter’s Role?

  • The Benefits of Working With an Interpreter


Overview (cont)

  • Interpreting Services

  • Make-up of our Shire

  • Languages in our Shire

  • Sudanese

  • Resources Used

Why Use an Interpreter?

For effective 2 way conversation: so you understand the client & client can understand you – it’s not just for the client!

A person may experience difficulties communicating in English:

  • In a stressful situation,

  • When dealing with a second language in an unfamiliar territory (i.e. medical).

Assessing the Need for an Interpreter

  • Advise Clients

  • Ask Client

  • Service Provider’s Duty of Care

  • Assess Client

  • Address Clients Concerns

1. Advise Clients

  • Interpreters are available and provided free of charge.

  • Emphasis the confidentiality of the service & outline the procedure for working with interpreters.

  • Ensure written information is available at reception.

    (Under “Projects & Initiatives”)

1. Advise Clients (cont)

National Interpreter Symbol

Officially launched in Victoria in May 2006

2. Ask Clients

  • Ask, “Would you like an Interpreter?”

  • Flashcard

  • What main language is spoken at home.

  • Check if a dialect is spoken.

  • Any ethnic or religious preferences for working with interpreters.

2. Ask Clients (cont)

  • If they would prefer a male or female interpreter.

  • If preferred language is not available, check whether the client can speak other languages and is willing to use an interpreter in another language.

  • Client may prefer phone.

3. Service Provider’sDuty of Care

Explain to the client that it is equally important that you are able to understand what they are saying.

4. Assess Client

  • Ask the client to spell out their address or say their date of birth.

  • Look for signs that your client is having trouble.

  • Ask your client open-ended questions.

  • If client insists they do not need an Interpreter, explain the benefits.

5. Address Clients Concerns

  • Explain the interpreter role, including confidentiality.

  • Telephone interpreter from another region or state:

    • Small communities

  • Use appropriate gender for Interpreter

  • 5. Address Clients Concerns (cont)

    • Family members can provide support if the client wishes.

    • Your service doesn’t use family members or friends for Interpreting.


    An interpreter should be introduced AT ANY POINT if communication is or becomes difficult

    What Is & What is Not Interpreter’s Role?

    • Bridge the communication gap.

    • Spoken message from one language to another.

    • Deaf people may require Auslan.

    • Literal interpretation.

    What Is & What is Not Interpreter’s Role? (cont)

    • Interpreters are bound by a code of ethics.

    • Interpreters are not advocates for either party.

    • It is not the Interpreter’s role to conduct the session or act as a cultural expert.

    The Benefits of Working With an Interpreter

    • Information conveyed is accurate and impartial.

    • Meet the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) requirements.

    The Benefits of Working With an Interpreter (cont)

    Remember working with an Interpretermay take longer

    BUT Communication is More Effective


    • What Style of Interpreting?

    • Booking the Session

    • Plan the Session

    • Brief the Interpreter

    • Sensitive Questions

    • Communicating with the Client

    • Ending the Session

    • Feedback and Concerns.

    1. What Style of Interpreting?

    • Telephone interpreting for basic communication of a short nature.

    • On-site interpreting for more complex and lengthy sessions.

    • On-site interpreting, ensure a booking is made in advance.

    2. Booking the Session

    • Book the interpreter well in advance.

    • Inform the client about the procedure for using an interpreter prior to the session.

    • Follow your booking procedures.

    • Indicate how much time, gender of interpreter & what language

    2. Booking the Session (cont)

    Some situations are sensitive & the

    cultural background, gender & or religion

    of the interpreter may be important.

    3. Plan the Session

    • Allow extra time for the session.

    • Arrange the seating so that you can maintain eye contact with the client (although it should be remembered that direct eye contact in some cultures is not permitted between certain people).

    3. Plan the Session (cont)




    4. Brief the Interpreter

    • Ensure booking time includes some extra time.

    • Brief the Interpreter on the session.

    5. Sensitive Questions

    If (sensitive…personal) questions need to be asked – consider whether your sex is going to be a barrier (i.e. female client may feel more comfortable & therefore more open, with a female health worker).

    Ask the client who they want in the room before conducting the session.

    5. Sensitive Questions (cont)

    Ask the client permission to ask some (sensitive...personal) questions.

    Make NO assumptions what may or may not be(sensitive...personal) or (permitted) for that client

     ask the client…“self” -cultural expert

    Remember your “duty of care” for a client may require you to ask difficult questions.

    6. Communicating With the Client

    • Introductions.

    • Maintain eye contact.

    • Speak to the client in the first person.

    • Talk directly to the client.

    6. Communicating With the Client (cont)

    • Speak clearly in plain English.

    • Use short simple sentences.

    • Make one point at a time.

    • Be aware of your body language.

    • Do not exclude the client.

    6. Communicating With the Client (cont)

    • The interpreter may want to clarify.

    • Interpreter may need to take notes or consult a dictionary.

    • Speak in short intervals.

    • Everything that is said must be interpreted.

    6. Communicating With the Client (cont)

    • Interpreters do not control the interview.

    • Explain any interruptions.

    • Summarise discussion & provide opportunity for questions.

    • Interpreting is sometimes difficult & a highly skilled job.

    7. Ending the Session

    • Check whether the client is ready to end the session and that there are no further questions.

    • Debrief the interpreter if necessary.

    8. Feedback and Concerns

    • Develop a feedback system for staff & clients.

    • Ensure complaints are documented.

    • Complaints can be referred to the interpreting agency.

    • If interpreter is from your agency, apply the organisational grievance procedure.

    8. Feedback and Concerns (cont)

    • Raise concerns about an interpreter.

    • If interpreter’s behaviour is interfering with the interview, the interview can be stopped.

    • Provide positive feedback when the interpreter’s service meets or exceeds your requirements.

    Interpreting Services

    • ONCALL Interpreters & Translators Agency.

    • Translating & Interpreting Services (TIS).

    • VITS LanguageLink.

    Interpreting Services (cont)

    • All Graduates Interpreting & Translating.

    • CONNECT Language Services.

    Make-up of our Shire

    • 84% Australian

    • 6.6% not stated

    • 9.4% born overseas

    • 3.4% born overseas are from non-English speaking countries

    Languages in our Shire

    • Australian Indigenous

    • Dinka (Sudan)

    • Arabic (Middle East & North Africa - Sudan)

    • German

    • Greek

    • Italian

    • French

    • Dutch

    • Chinese, Mandarin, Cantonese (China)

    • Hungarian

    • Polish

    • Spanish

    • Filipino (Philippines)

    • Japanese

    • Maltese

    • Macedonian (Macedonia, Greece, Serbia)

    • Vietnamese

    • Croatian (Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania)

    • Hindi (India)

    • Serbian (Central & Western Europe)

    • Tamil (India, Sri Lanka, Singapore)

    • Indonesian (Indonesia, East Timor)

    • Tagalog (Philippines)

    • Thai

    • African languages, nfd

    • Cebuano (Philippines)

    • Danish

    • Farsi (Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan)

    • Finnish

    • Javanese (Java – Indonesia)

    • Luo (Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya)

    • Malay (Malaysia)

    • Middle Eastern Semitic language

    • Other Eastern Asian language

    • Pashto (Afghanistan, Pakistan)

    • Russian


    Top 10 Languages Spoken at Home

    (in Victoria)


    25.1% Dinka

    9.2% Nuer

    3.5%African Languages, nec

    1.8%African Languages, nfd






    3.2%Speaks English only

    4.3%Other languages (a)

    2.3%Not stated

    The number of individual languages listed for Sudan is 142.

    Of those, 133 are living languages & 9 have no known speakers.

    Resources Used

    • VITS LanguageLink:

      • “Working with Interpreters”.

  • Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health(CEH):

    • “Assessing the need for an interpreter”.

    • “Arranging an interpreter”.

    • “Working with interpreters”.

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