Phone interpreting offers a more cost-effective and faster way for two parties speaking dissimilar languages to understand one another. There’s always talk about faster and better communication because of the advancements in communication technology, such as faster Internet, social media platforms, smartphones and interactive web services. These tools help, but there is still a gap among cultures because of language barriers.
Translation companies address the language gap by providing translation and interpreting services. Phone interpreting is one of the services that help two parties in the same or different locations communicate and understand one another with the assistance of a human phone interpreter.
It is a three-way communication among the phone interpreter, the client and the other party. The process is quite simple, with the client hiring a translation company that offers phone interpreting. The clients request for a phone interpreter speaking a preferred language pair, such as English and Spanish. Once the connection is made, the client speaks in English for example, while the interpreter listens and later interprets the message in Spanish. The Spanish-speaker speaks in his language and the interpreter relays the message in English. The process involves consecutive interpreting.
Based on the demographic statistics from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) website, the U.S. population is about 322 million in 2017. There are 13.1million legal non-citizens while 11.1 million are unauthorized immigrants. The number of native-born U.S. citizens is 278.8 million while 20 million are naturalized citizens. The illegal immigrants live around the United States, looking for places to live and earn a living. Most of them barely speak English. Their stay in the U.S. is not permanent, but as human beings, they still need social services, such as legal and medical assistance. They still need to communicate with people outside their communities, people who do not speak their language.
According to the latest data available from Migration Policy Institute (MPI), about 1.7 million illegal immigrants who entered the United States between 2010 and 2014, which represent 15% of the total number of unauthorized immigrants in the country, are staying in 15 states including Alaska, Florida and Washington. These states are also home to 120,100 refugees or about 25% of the 491,400 refugees admitted to the country between 2010 and 2016.
Across the United States, about 22% of the foreign-born population ages 5 and older speak another language at home. Top languages spoken are Spanish, Filipino, Chinese, Arabic and Vietnamese. Other languages include Haitian Creole, French, German, Russian, Portuguese, Swahili and other Bantu languages, Korean, Amharic and Hmong. A significant number also speaks Beja, Kru, Somali, Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian, Burmese, Chin and Karen.
These are just some of the languages that are spoken at home. According to estimates, about 350 foreign languages are spoken in the United States. From this data, you can see the enormous need for translation and interpreting services.
Role of phone interpretation in society
Technology and communication are said to help make the world smaller as they bring people closer. This may be true but the language difference is still the primary obstacle for proper communication.
Take the United States as an example. The primary language spoken in the U.S. is English. But the nation, because it is a popular destination of immigrants, is multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual. A large number of immigrants, legal and illegal, are in the country, with many of them lacking in English speaking skills.
Phone interpreting is one of the ways for medical or legal facilities to provide foreign language speaking immigrants better services. Phone interpreting ensures that they fully understand what the doctor or health care provider and a legal officer or lawyer are saying through interpretation. The law mandates that only qualified translators and interpreters can provide language services to people with limited English proficiency (LEP). Their family members, relatives and friends cannot interpret or translate for them.
Government agencies, healthcare facilities and other organizations serving the public are required to provide translation and interpretation services that are easy to access. Phone interpreting is the fastest way to handle the language barriers that public servants face each day.
Advantages of phone interpreting
Phone interpreting service is growing, which shows that the service provides many benefits to users, individuals and corporations alike. For organizations that need regular interpreting services, hiring a translation company to provide phone interpreting will prove to be very cost effective. Clients can have timely and accurate interpretations at any time of the day. Phone interpreting removes the possibilities of deals going awry or receiving erroneous communication because of language barriers.
Over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) is a cheaper but effective way to provide interpreting services quickly. An organization or an individual do not have to wait for the availability of an onsite interpreter. It is particularly advantageous for short meetings or conversations between people staying in remote areas or for communicating with a person whose language is not commonly spoken.
Availability of more languages
Phone interpreting allows you to access interpreters for more language pairs, including interpreters for rare and less widely used languages, which may be the only language known by a refugee or immigrant. Even if older immigrants may have lived in the country for a long time, it is still possible that they have not learned the language of the new country and tend to speak only their mother tongue. Most of them are the ones that frequently need language interpretation assistance.
They are easily accessible any time of the day, in various locations, making it easy for clients to connect with people in real time wherever they are, regardless of time zones.
Very effective for emergencies
Phone interpreting is valuable in emergencies, such as a non-English speaker being arrested at an odd hour on the weekend and has to understand the process of posting bail. A doctor or medical practitioner may have some follow up questions to an LEP patient, get insurance details, give results of tests or reconfirm an appointment.
Effective for short conversations
For short conversations that do not need a full interpretation service onsite, telephone interpreting is a very viable option as it can provide the required language interpretation without waiting for an interpreter to be physically present.
Over-the-phone interpreting is especially valuable in giving an accurate interpretation for people in remote areas, provided there are telephone connections.
Access to professional interpreters
Phone interpreters are professional linguists. You are assured that they have the credentials to provide accurate translations of source and target languages. They have the proper training and experience in their field of expertise. Most of them used to work in their chosen field before they became interpreters and spent hours of rigorous training to qualify as an interpreter.
The flexibility of working hours and location
Phone interpreting can choose to work part-time. They do not have to be located in a specific area and can live where they can enjoy life the most.
Impartiality and confidentiality
Some people feel that the presence of a third party (like an interpreter) is as an intrusion when law officers are questioning them or having a medical examination. The ability of the phone interpreter to facilitate communication without being seen as well as the interpreter’s gender does not matter much when the conversation is done over the phone.
Keeping a professional distance
During emergencies, the phone interpreter, because he or she is not present in the scene, can concentrate on the task without getting emotionally affected by what is transpiring at the scene.
Various entities employ phone interpreting services. Many hospitals, health care providers, nonprofit organizations, private companies and government departments use phone interpreters to serve their clients, communities and their constituents. Some of the tasks of phone interpreters include providing news reports to foreign media correspondents, negotiating trade agreements, auditing foreign firms’ accounts for tax payments, negotiating treaties and describing symptoms and explaining treatment procedures to healthcare patients.
Although phone interpreting is a cost-effective solution for people and organizations requiring interpreting services, it is not applicable to some situations, like in meetings with lengthy discussions. Since the interpreting delivery is consecutive rather than simultaneous, the actual interpreting work takes time. One party has to finish talking and wait for the interpreter to relay the message in the desired language and wait again for the response of the other party, which the interpreter processes and interprets in another language.
A network of phone interpreters around the world
DayInterpreting, a division of Day Translations, Inc., understands the need for clear communication among people speaking different languages. We can help you address the language barrier between you and your clients quickly and effectively. DayInterpreting has a network of phone interpreters located around the world. They are native speakers and live in-country. If you need phone interpreters for different fields, including medical and healthcare, finance, law, business and IT, give us a call at 1-800-969-6853 or send us an email at Contact us. We also have phone translators trained for emergency services. Get in touch with us for your phone interpreting needs. We are open throughout the day, every day of the year for your convenience.
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