5 Tips for Successful Over-the-Phone Interpretation

Over-the-Phone Interpretation


5 Tips for Successful Over-the-Phone Interpretation

What is Over-the-Phone Interpretation?

The term “over-the-phone interpretation” (OPI) is pretty self-explanatory. When two parties who do not speak the same language wish to converse with each other, they call an off-site interpreter on the phone and take turns conveying their messages to the interpreter in their native languages. The interpreter listens carefully and then relays the message to the second party in another language. The interpreter acts as a remote middleman to break down the communication barrier that exists between these two parties.

Difficulties Associated with Interpretation

Interpretation is a much more difficult job than it seems. Since the interpreter has to convert what one party is saying in real-time and convey it to the other party without breaking the flow of conversation, they have to possess an extensive vocabulary in both languages and a sharp mind to recall those words quickly. This requires a great deal of skill and experience on the part of the interpreter.

Perhaps the most difficult of interpretation jobs is over-the-phone interpretation. Through a study conducted in 1967, UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian discovered that communication between individuals is 7% verbal, 38% vocal, and 55% visual. [1] Since there are no visual cues in OPI jobs, 55% of the information is lost when communicating over the phone. As such, an interpreter has to take extra care to ensure no miscommunication arises when interpreting.

Since OPI jobs are more prone to potential misunderstandings, you should do your part to ensure a successful interpretation session. Here are a few simple tips you should follow while using an over-the-phone interpreter:

1. Hire a Reputable Service

The first thing you should do is to hire a competent and reputable service for OPI. When surveying potential services, make sure to read the online reviews left by prior clients. Additionally, look at their website to gauge their authority. A reputable interpretation agency will often employ a team of interpreters that are fluent in different languages and fields. This allows them to offer you their services in every possible situation, no matter which languages you and the other party speak.


2. Ask for Certified Interpreters if the Situation Requires It

Specific interpretation jobs entail the employment of certified interpreters. For example, when a lawyer wants to offer legal advice to a person with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), they will enlist a certified legal interpreter to help them communicate with their clients. Similarly, a hospital will use a certified healthcare interpreter who knows American Sign Language (ASL) to converse with a deaf or mute patient.

Many interpretation agencies offer the services of certified interpreters. These interpreters undergo years of training and experience in their respective fields to gain that certification. This gives them the necessary contextual insight and subject matter knowledge to interpret easily and effectively within these industries.

If you believe your situation necessitates the use of a certified interpreter, do not be afraid to ask for one.

3. Noise-Free Environments and Good Connections

Before calling up the interpreter, make sure you are in an environment that is free from background noise. Excessive background noise will inhibit clear communication between you and the interpreter.

Additionally, check that you have a good phone connection; we recommend using a landline rather than a mobile connection, as it is usually more reliable than a mobile device.

You will often be paying by the hour, or by the minute, when using OPI.  Eliminating distractions and background noises and ensuring a good connection will allow you to get your money’s worth out of the interpretation session.

4. Simple, Concise, to the Point 

When talking to the interpreter, make sure that you speak clearly and loudly (without shouting, of course). Avoid using difficult words and advanced vocabulary. Make sure that you use simple, concise, and to-the-point sentences to convey your message. An interpreter will often have a very extensive vocabulary but using plain language to convey meaning will allow the interpreter to translate much more quickly and will not break the flow of conversation.

This practice will ensure a successful and short interpretation session and save you valuable time. Since you are paying for the interpreter’s time, this will allow you to save your money as well.

5. Allow the Interpreter Time to Convey the Message Effectively

You should understand that there are many linguistic and cultural differences between different languages. This is why you should allow some time to your interpreter to convey the message in an effective way to the other party. Do not think the interpreter is being rude if they interrupt you to interpret the message.

If you use simple and to-the-point sentences, a good interpreter will usually translate your speech verbatim (word for word). However, situations may arise where the interpreter asks you questions to ensure that they understood you properly. Try not to mind this too much, and instead encourage them to ask questions if they need more clarification regarding a particularly difficult term or concept that you speak about.

Choose Acutrans for Over-the-Phone Interpretation Services

If you ever find the need for an OPI service, choose Acutrans. Acutrans has been in the interpretation and translation services industry for over 20 years. Over the years, we have built up a team of over 2,000 linguists dedicated to providing you with the highest quality interpretation services that you deserve.

Our extensive team allows us to offer you interpretation services in over 200 languages. We have people trained in the finance, legal, life sciences, health care, government, entertainment, marketing, and manufacturing industries, among many others. No matter which industry you work in, Acutrans will deliver a competent interpreter that will make your job much easier. Contact us to request an over-the-phone interpreter, or learn more about our over-the-phone interpretation services.

At Acutrans, we understand the need for an interpreter can often arise urgently. This is why we offer live 24/7 interpretation services over the phone. No matter where you are or what time it is, if you require our services, we will be there to assist you.


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