Phone Interpreting: 3 Do's & Don'ts for Immigration Interpreters


Phone Interpreting or Over the Phone Interpreting (OPI) is quickly demonstrating the importance of providing language accessibility services. Phone Interpreting is a popular form of remote interpreting, that allows the interpreter to provide services without needing to be being physically present themselves. As we continue to live through a worldwide pandemic with all the conveniences of modern technology, remote interpreting services like OPI and VRI (Video Remote Interpreting) are essential. According to the latest census bureau statistics (2020), there are currently 329.5 million people living in the United States, where 85.7 million or 26% account for the resident immigrant population; of whom 17 million report speaking a language other than English. Regardless of whether their stay will be permanent or not, they will require legal services and need to communicate with people outside of their family; in addition to the medical attention that human beings sometimes require, especially during a global pandemic. When it comes to increasing language accessibility services during immigration proceedings, phone and remote interpreting services provide the tools required for expansion. Whether you are considering a career switch or just starting out, here are some Do's and Don'ts to keep in mind while on the job:


1. DO prepare your work area before a phone interpreting session ✅

This may seem obvious, but there is a lot to consider before providing OPI for immigration services. Is your work area quiet and free of distractions? Excessive background noise- whether it's your crying baby, your barking dog that just wants to play, or something you cannot control like your neighbors lawn mower are all distractions that can have huge consequences. Ensuring your work environment is clear of noise pollution is an easy step you can take to eliminate confusion.

Before you start every phone interpreting session, verify that you have good phone connection. Dropping a call mid-session is unprofessional and causes more problems than it is worth. While many do not have a landline phone these days, it is the most reliable and recommended if you are going to provide phone interpreting long-term.

2. DON'T communicate anything other than the conversation ❌Remote phone interpreting worker is distracted

An interpreter's job is to remain impartial, especially when conducting remote over the phone interpreting sessions. If your Limited English Proficient (LEP) client tries to engage in a side conversation with you, do not engage. It is your job to clearly interpret and relay the conversation so both parties can communicate. Do not discuss anything unrelated to the phone interpreting assignment, and do not give advice during the call even if your client asks for it.


3. DO get as much clarity as possible before beginning an OPI session ✅

Get clear on how many people are on the other side of the call, how many people will be speaking on the call (some may just be listening) and what their names are. Once you have that information, write their names down and refer back to the list during the call. It is not only polite, but it keeps you organized in case people start talking too fast, or over one another. It is your job to ensure communication is clear, and everyone gets the correct information.


When interpreting over the phone during immigration proceedings the LEP (Limited English Proficient) client will rely on their interpreter to clearly relay everything that is said during their proceeding. While every interpreting assignment needs to be correct, the consequences of a misinterpretation or misunderstanding can be severe during the immigration process. Remote interpreting training can set bilingual people up for a rewarding career.If you or someone you know is interested in our online Business & Community Interpreter Training Course with live instructors, our classes are offered in SpanishPortugueseArabicRussianChineseHaitian Creole or Vietnamese languages.

Get the necessary online interpreter training in order to become a competent professional interpreter. Register now for one of our online interpreter training programs: Online Medical Interpreter TrainingOnline Legal Interpreter Training,Online Immigration Interpreter Training, Business & Community Interpreter Training

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