Telephone Interpreting Guide

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Using a Telephone Interpreter – Tips and Guidance


Ensure that you use a reputable telephone interpreting agency.


Prior to using the telephone interpreting agency, check their costs per minute and clarify the minimum charge applicable to the service.


Ensure that you check with the telephone interpreting agency that their interpreters are fully qualified. Not all qualified interpreters are fully qualified to act as telephone interpreters. Since telephone interpreting is still a relatively new phenomenon then only a small portion of interpreters have this qualification. If however, the interpreter being assigned to you is not a fully qualified telephone interpreter then ensure that as a minimum they are a) a formally qualified interpreter and b) experienced in delivering this service.


The telephone interpreting agency will provide you and your participants with pin and telephone numbers for entry to the call. Ensure that these are all distributed in advance and that all attendees have received the relevant information prior to the meeting taking place.


Prior to the meeting taking place, arrange for an either a briefing for the telephone interpreter or, send them any information which you feel may be necessary for them to digest in advance of the meeting. This will help to ensure that the telephone interpreter is fully briefed and able to carry out their role effectively.


It is more effective to use a hand held telephone as opposed to a speaker phone as this will help to maximise the quality of the call (although it is not essential).


Ensure that you set the scene well prior to the telephone interpreting exercise taking place. Introduce all participants, including the telephone interpreter and highlight their reason for participating in the call. It would be helpful if you could advise all meeting participants that the telephone interpreter is there to provide objective interpretation only. They should not as such be asked for their opinion in matters or other such input.


Try not to rustle paper or make other potentially distracting noises whilst the interpreting is taking place.


Due to the costs involved in telephone interpreting, every minute counts! For this reason, ensure that the meeting runs according to a pre-planned agenda and that non-relevant conversation or dialogue is avoided.


If you are interested in using our telephone interpreting services, please get in touch.

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