Tips and Advice

How to Work with your On-Site Interpreter

When working with an on-site interpreter, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure your interpretation is handled successfully.

Your role

  • Always speak in first person, just as you would in normal conversation. For example, say, “Do you have a fever?” rather than “Ask her if she has a fever, please.”
  • After you speak one-two sentences or finish a thought, pause to give the interpreter enough time to interpret.
  • Be prepared to explain some things in more detail for the interpreter. Some terminology and concepts may not have an equivalent in the target language.
  • Control the conversation. The on-site interpreter is only there to interpret. You are responsible for making sure the LEP client receives the same service as an English-speaking client.
  • Ask the interpreter and the LEP client questions to ensure they understand what you want to communicate.
  • Avoid asking the interpreter for his/her opinion about the situation being interpreted.
  • Follow up by providing us with feedback about your interpretation services.

Your on-site interpreter’s role

We expect our interpreters to meet high standards and want to know when they are meeting our expectations. To that end, your feedback is critical.

  • Make sure your interpreter introduces himself/herself using a first name and ID number. They are not required to provide a last name.
  • Your interpreter should not have a side conversation with you or the client. He or she must relay everything that is said back to you or your client. This includes any advice that the client may ask of the interpreter.
  • Your interpreter should not discuss anything unrelated to the interpretation.
  • More questions about on-site interpretation? Contact us at at +1 866-610-1338 or email