Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is interpretation?

Interpretation is the oral transmission of a message from one language into another language. CTS LanguageLink provides accurate and reliable first-person interpretation, accommodating the country of origin, cultural nuances and the speaker’s level of education. Our interpreters analyze the original message and select words that most accurately convey the true meaning of what is said.

Are telephonic and over-the-phone (OPI) interpretation the same?

Yes, they both refer to interpretation that occurs over-the-phone.

What is the difference between consecutive and simultaneous interpretation?

Consecutive interpreting refers to the process by which the source-language speaker and the interpreter take turns speaking. Telephonic interpretation is consecutive. The consecutive interpreter listens and takes notes while the speaker talks. When the speaker pauses or finishes speaking, the interpreter reproduces the message in the target language.

Simultaneous interpreting is necessary when there are people who speak several different languages. The source-language speaker speaks continuously, while the interpreter sits in a sound-proof booth and renders the message through a microphone, simultaneously, in the target language. Because of the fast-paced and exacting nature of this kind of interpretation, two interpreters are usually involved for each language. Each interpreter works in 20-minute increments.

How am I connected to an interpreter over-the-phone?

You will simply dial a toll-free phone number and provide your account information and the language you need to our customer service representative. We will connect you to a qualified interpreter in seconds.

What if I am unsure about the language I need?

Our customer service representatives can help you with that. You should also ask your client what country they are from, as that will help us pinpoint the correct language more quickly. We can provide Point-to-your-language posters and cards to help you identify the language your client speaks. Click here for a link to our Support Materials.

How long does it take to reach an interpreter?

For most calls, we can connect you to a qualified interpreter within thirty seconds. All we need is your account information and the desired language. The connection time for languages that are requested less frequently may be slightly longer. We are able to accommodate most requests quickly thanks to our state-of-the-art call center and proprietary call routing database.

When can I reach an interpreter?

Our telephone interpretation services are available year-round, including holidays: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Typically, it takes mere seconds for us to connect you to a qualified interpreter.

What languages do you service?

We service more than 240 languages and dialects. For a complete list, refer to our list of languages here served by our over-the-phone interpretation department.

Can I just transfer a call to your interpreter?

No. The telephone interpreter serves as a bridge between you and your limited-English proficient (LEP) client. He or she will depend on you to direct the call. You are responsible for providing the subject matter expertise, including information about your business, organization, product or service. The interpreter will relay the information back and forth.

What should I do when the interpreter joins the conversation on the phone?

Immediately introduce yourself to the LEP client and explain your reason for calling. Don’t assume that the interpreter or the LEP client is familiar with your organization or its procedures. Take the lead by speaking directly to the LEP client as if he or she were an English speaker. Pause and allow the interpreter to relay your message. Group your thoughts or questions to help the conversation flow naturally and quickly. For example, ask for an address and telephone number in one question.

What should I do to facilitate the interpretation over-the-phone?

Remember to communicate directly with the LEP client, and avoid slang, jargon, acronyms or technical terms that may not interpret well into the other language or culture. You may have to clarify information that the LEP client does not readily understand. Our interpreters are trained to ask for clarification if you use a term that is not familiar to them.

Are your interpreters trained in our industry terminology?

Our interpreters have extensive experience in tailoring their interpretations to our clients’ needs. We partner with industry experts who provide our interpreters with specialized training in medical, court, insurance, financial and other industry-specific terminology. Our interpreters must be familiar with police and 9-1-1 procedures, and also demonstrate excellent customer service skills.

If you use specialized terminology, discuss this with your customer service representative upfront. We may request that you provide us with additional information to help our interpreters familiarize themselves with your industry.

Why do the limited-English conversations seem longer than the English-only conversations?

Our telephone interpreters are required to provide accurate and concise interpretations. They interpret in first person for simplicity and brevity. It is important to remember that they interpret across both languages and cultures, which can make the limited-English conversations longer. You can help facilitate the interpretation by making your message easy for the LEP client to understand. You may need to clarify or elaborate on your message to explain concepts that do not have an equivalent in other languages or cultures.

How do you guarantee confidentiality?

Each of our telephone interpreters signs a confidentiality agreement and is bound by a strict Code of Ethics, ensuring that all the information pertaining to the work we do for you remains strictly confidential. Additionally, our interpreters are required to adhere to HIPAA compliancy standards.

Do you monitor calls for quality?

Yes, we regularly monitor calls to ensure interpreter quality and adherence to our Code of Ethics. We focus on the interpreter’s performance, rather than the conversation itself.

How can I find out the interpreter’s name?

The telephone interpreter will start the call by introducing him/herself, using a first name and ID number.

How do you bill for this service?

Usage is billed in one-minute increments, and charges commence when the interpreter comes on the line. Your paper or electronic billing statement will itemize the date, time and duration of the call, as well as the language, interpreter ID number, the personal code of the person who placed the call and our internal reference number.

Where can I find more information about working with an interpreter over-the-phone?

Our Tips area has information that will help make your interpretation experience successful.


If you have additional questions that are not addressed above, please contact us at +1 800 208-2620 or email