The Challenges of Being an Interpreter

The Challenges of Being an Interpreter in a Socially Distanced World

Working in language interpretation services has its challenges, however working as an interpreter during a pandemic presents more than usual. Interpreters predominantly work face to face and can be found at large events, international conferences, political summits, and more. Currently, many of these events are on hold, rescheduled, or even banned, while others are exclusively virtual. This does not mean, however, that there is no opportunity for interpreters to find work, but they must adapt to the new landscape.

In September 2020, we met with Lluís Cavallé, one of Language Department’s expert interpreters. Lluís works in English, French, Spanish, and Catalan, and has over 20 years of experience as an interpreter and translator. Lluís has a range of experience fanning across many industries and presently specializes in the audiovisual field. While the transition to online interpreting has been challenging, his background and interest in software, video games, and web localization made it easier.

Remote interpreting services are still essential for many people with limited English or other spoken languages. In March, many large conferences and events ground to a halt. In the past 6 months, the world has adapted to the ‘new normal’, and the events that Lluís once provided in-person interpreting services to have gradually recommenced with the help of remote services such as telephone and video conferencing. Lluís is now working from home on a range of interpreting projects, such as interpreting for clients in the private market, in social services, for negotiations, political summits, court hearings, social interpreting, and other events.

While moving to remote interpreting has become essential, technical difficulties such as poor video and audio quality can make things difficult. When providing telephone interpreting, some nuances can be lost without the cues of body language. Further, finding a quiet room to conduct simultaneous interpretations via Zoom is not always easy, and investments into quality audio equipment and reliable internet are necessary. 

When asked about other unique challenges interpreters may face, Lluís states that interpreters often work in teams of two, relying heavily on each other as booth mates and partners to simultaneously interpret. 

When working together both interpreters must be able to rely on and trust their colleagues completely. When interpreting simultaneously, interpreters use each other to note down dates, figures, or other technical information, or to help with documents and statements. Working in a booth together gives them the ability to visually communicate in a split second any information that may be missed via eye contact, a sign, or a scribble on paper.

While before the pandemic interpreters usually worked in pairs or a team in a booth, now at home they work solo. Working from home requires a completely new skill set. 

Lluís explains that while interpreters may not be experts in all fields, they will be proficient in many. One day they might be working to interpret at a medical conference about healthcare, and the next day may entail interpreting in a criminal law court hearing.

He explains, as mentioned in our previous blog post Translation vs Interpretation: The Unique Challenges of an Interpreter, preparation is key. You need to establish trustworthy resources, some of which may be supplied by the client who requires the interpreting services, and others you will need to research and find yourself. 

While working as an interpreter during a pandemic has its challenges, there is a silver lining. Transitioning to interpreting online means interpreters like Lluís are developing new skills and will be well-prepared for future online work. 

Is your business looking for medical interpreters, professional translation services, document translation service or interpreting service? Language Department’s experienced and adaptable team of interpreters is ready to assist you in your next interpreting project, be it in person or online, providing the highest quality service possible. 

Our team of ever-curious and professional interpreters from across the globe are capable of delivering high-quality interpreting services and other language services — fully ready to fulfill your requirements. Language Department strives to give people of any spoken language access to the resources they need and provide them with first-class customer service.

Want to know more about our translating and interpreting services? Contact us to get started.

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