4 Reasons Why Community Interpreter Training is Necessary

4 Reasons Why Community Interpreter Training is Necessary

Community InterpreterI’ve been studying Spanish for 6 years in school; I can definitely help my neighbor out at his appointment with the immigration office.”
“Francis from the English department has family who speak French at home, and he speaks with them. He should know enough to help out with the exchange student and her parents at this meeting.”
“I’m fluent in Arabic, interpreting the correspondence at the town meeting will be easy.”

The above situations highlight misconceptions about community interpreters and the need for community interpreter training. As the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) population continues to grow in the United States, many people require some language assistance in order to have full access to all public rights – be those social services, education or town meetings. But what exactly does it mean to be a community interpreter, and why is training necessary?


Community Interpreter TrainingBeing a Community Interpreter in the United States
The definition of a community interpreter can vary depending on where you are, but in the United States it generally refers to instances in which a professional interpreter is necessary outside of the Medical, Legal and Conference interpreting fields. This means helping LEP and Deaf peoples in everyday situations such as in school, with housing, social services, or public authorities, in business meetings and more. Being a community interpreter requires extensive knowledge and experience both with society and people within the United States, and those of the culture of the interpreter’s target language.


Community interpreterWhy Community Interpreter Training is Necessary:
4 Things You Can Anticipate 

You might ask why community interpreter training is necessary, especially if a budget comes into play, and the short answer is that interpreter training is the only way to ensure you are providing an accurate oral translation, both in terms of words and situational context, for a LEP/Deaf person. It is also the only way to cover all your bases in terms of avoiding potentially disastrous consequences resulting from a mis-interpretation.


4 standard reasons why community interpreter training is necessary are as follows:

1. Interpreters Have a Code of Ethics
The Interpreter Code of Ethics covers basic standards expected from professional interpreters, including client confidentiality and a commitment to accuracy. Standard procedures such as those in the code of ethics help ensure conversations can be carried out between two parties in a fluid manner, with everyone involved fully aware of what is taking place and what can and cannot be expected from the interpreter.

2. Differences in Dialects and Slang
Learning a language in school generally means learning the standard dialect of that language; however, not everyone you interpret for as a community interpreter will speak standard. Even learning a dialect at home, if you or your parents come from a non-English speaking country, does not guarantee you are familiar with every dialect for a particular target language. Different regions in a country also have slang terms that you are unfamiliar with – simple schooling or speaking at home may not make you aware of all of these nuances that you can expect to encounter from time to time in community situations.

3. Differences in Cultural Customs
Societal standards are different everywhere. What’s standard at a business or educational meeting in the United States may be very different from what an LEP/Deaf person from another country is used to. The people you are interpreting for may feel uncomfortable in certain situations and you, as the interpreter, need to have the knowledge and skills to be able to recognize and address these issues for both the English and LEP/Deaf persons.

4. Specific Industry Terminology will Likely Come Up
No matter what field you are interpreting for as a community interpreter, there are terms that are unique to those industries. Immigration offices will have their own unique vocabulary that is entirely different from what you would come across when interacting with law enforcement. As a community interpreter you need to know these terms in English, and be able to explain them in the target language in case the person you are interpreting for is not familiar with them - thus ensuring the full and proper meaning of the discussion is conveyed between both parties.


An Interpreter Training Program is the first step in becoming a Community Interpreter, and there are many options for those interested in pursuing this extremely rewarding career. Prepare for success as an interpreter in your community, and get the necessary, in person training in order to pass interpreter qualification exams with our Medical Interpreter Training, Business & Community Interpreter Training and Legal Interpreter Training Programs.

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