Remote Interpreting

Everyone has an accent. No matter where you’re from, you sound foreign to someone—even in your native language. However, as an interpreter, you need to ensure yours doesn’t interfere with your ability to communicate. While you don’t need to erase your accent, modifying it can definitely make your job easier. And that’s especially true when it comes to remote interpreting.

 

The Unique Challenges of Remote Interpreting   

 

Over-the-phone (OPI) and video remote interpreting have created new opportunities for interpreters around the world. Yet even though it’s easier than ever to accept an assignment, remote interpreting has its challenges. Here are just three you need to be aware of:

 

  1. A wider pool of clients means a wider pool of accents. When you connect remotely, you may encounter unfamiliar accents that are difficult to understand—and the other parties may think the same about yours.

 

  1. Remote communication requires more mental energy than in-person conversations. (Yes, Zoom fatigue is real.) Your accent, which may not cause a problem in person, may add an additional hurdle for listeners who are struggling to maintain their focus.

 

  1. Technical glitches such as poor audio and video lags make any conversation taxing. Add in an interpreter with an unfamiliar accent, and one or both parties may be left wondering if they misunderstood what you said.

 

3 Tips to Improve Your Accent

 

Now that you know why accents can pose a problem for remote interpreters, let’s take a look at a few techniques that can improve yours. Again, you don’t need to scrub your regional accent or sound like a native in your second language. These are just tips to help you improve your communication skills.

 

  1. Listen to News Broadcasts in Your Target Language(s). Broadcast journalists are trained to speak in an “neutral” accent to ensure the largest number of listeners can understand them. You don’t need to sound exactly like one, but smoothing out your pronunciation like they do will make it easier for listeners to understand you.

 

  1. Practice Speaking Clearly. No matter your accent, speaking clearly is an essential component of interpreting. Practicing your pronunciation in your target language(s) can greatly improve your interpreting skills—both remotely and onsite. Try recording yourself and take note of where you can make improvements.

 

  1. Take Accent Reduction Lessons. If you prefer to work with an instructor, consider taking accent reduction lessons. Actors, public speakers, and foreign language learners from all backgrounds have benefited from the extra help.     

 

Remote Interpreting with Boostlingo

 

Once you’re ready to accept remote interpreting assignments, you need a platform that makes it easy to connect with clients. That’s where Boostlingo comes in. Our interpreting platform let’s you manage your onsite interpreting schedule, accept remote assignments, and track your hours. All you need is an internet connection, computer or mobile device, and a webcam.

 

Think Boostlingo is right for you? Contact today to start your free trial!

 

Languages Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a major crisis in the U.S. healthcare system: a lack of language support for limited English proficiency (LEP) speakers. Yet the success of the vaccine depends on reaching millions of residents—including those with limited English skills. That means healthcare providers must ramp up their efforts to hire medical interpreters who can bridge the language gap. While the demand for Spanish interpreters is a given, let’s look at the seven fastest growing languages that your patients may speak.

 

  1. Telugu – Up 86%

 

Telugu is a Dravidian language spoken by the Telugu people in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It’s also a scheduled language of India.

 

Around 415,400 Telugu speakers live in the U.S. The majority reside in NYC, Long Island, Central New Jersey, Northern Virginia, and Central and Southern California.

 

  1. Arabic – Up 42%

 

The official language of 23 countries throughout the Middle East and Africa, Arabic is spoken by 580 million people around the world.

 

Roughly 1.1 million Arabic speakers live in the United States. States with the largest Arabic speaking populations include: California, Michigan, New York, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, and Ohio.

 

  1. & 4. Hindi – Up 32%; Urdu – Up 30%

 

Registers of the Hindustani language, Hindi and Urdu belong to the Indo-Aryan language family. Both are official languages of India.

 

Hindi is the largest spoken Indian language in the U.S, with 863,077 speakers, while Urdu is spoken by 507,329 speakers. The majority live in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Texas.

 

  1. Chinese – Up 23%

 

The most widely spoken language in the world, Chinese is an official language of Mainland China, Singapore, Taiwan, Myanmar, Hong Kong, and Macau.

 

It’s also the third most widely spoken language in the U.S., with roughly 3.5 million speakers.

The metropolitan areas of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore-Washington, Seattle, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Delaware Valley all have large Chinese-speaking communities.

 

  1. Gujarati – Up 22%

 

Gujarati is a Western Indo-Aryan language spoken primarily in the Indian state of Gujarat. It’s also an official language of India.

 

Roughly 434,264 speakers live in the U.S. Most live in New Jersey and the metropolitan areas of New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia.

 

  1. Haitian Creole – Up 19%

 

A French-based creole, Haitian Creole is the official language of Haiti and is recognized as a minority language in the Bahamas, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.

 

In the U.S., approximately 856,000 people speak the language, most of whom live in

Florida, New York, Delaware, Illinois, Virginia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

 

Language Support and Boostlingo   

 

Finding an interpreter can be a difficult task, especially for a less common language. Fortunately, the BoostCare Telehealth platform makes it easy to connect with one remotely, either over-the-phone (OPI) or via video remote (VRI). All you need is an internet connection, computer or mobile device, and a webcam for video calls. Plus, our Boostlingo Professional Interpreters Network (BPIN) gives you access to interpreters who speak over 200 languages.

 

Want to learn more? Contact us today to start your free trial!

 

Interpreting Errors

Language barriers pose a major challenge when it comes to accessing health care. Limited English proficiency (LEP) patients often struggle to make appointments—let alone describe symptoms or understand recommendations. Medical interpreters can help, but healthcare professionals don’t always provide one due to the cost. Yet failure to do so can result in serious medical mistakes. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at three medical malpractice cases and how to avoid errors like these.

 

The Willie Ramirez Case

 

Often referred to as the most expensive medical interpreting error, the failure to understand one word changed the life of Willie Ramirez. In 1980, the 18-year-old arrived at a South Florida hospital in a comatose state. His Spanish-speaking mother explained that he was “intoxicado”—which meant suffering from food poisoning.

 

Doctors mistakenly believed that meant he overdosed on drugs or alcohol. But Willie had actually suffered from a brain hemorrhage and was left quadriplegic as a result. Had a neurosurgeon been called immediately, he could have avoided this fate. He won a $71 million settlement as a result.

 

This case highlights just one reason why family members don’t make the best interpreters. Had doctors connected with a medical interpreter who understood Spanish, Willie could have avoided paralysis.

 

The Tran Family Case

 

A nine-year-old girl in California arrived at the hospital with what seemed to be a serious case of the stomach flu. Her parents only spoke Vietnamese, yet the hospital failed to request an interpreter. Instead, the girl and her 16-year-old brother tried to interpret. A doctor sent the family home with a prescription and instructions in English. The girl later had a reaction to the drug and died of a heart attack. The doctor and the hospital settled the malpractice claim for $200,000.

 

As this case shows, children should never be tasked with interpreting—especially for their parents. They not only lack the proper vocabulary, but the maturity level to fulfill the role.

A medical interpreter could have given the parents proper instructions, and the girl likely would have lived.

 

The Teresa Tarry Case

 

A British citizen living in Spain, Teresa Tarry underwent an unnecessary double mastectomy because of a translation error in her medical records. A doctor found a benign lump during an exam, and wrongly believed that she had a family history of breast cancer. Teresa, who doesn’t speak fluent Spanish, claimed she was never offered an interpreter. She sued the hospital for €600,000.

 

As this case shows, even patients who speak the language may need assistance. An interpreter could have clarified Teresa’s family history, and she would have avoided unnecessary surgery.

 

Connecting with a Remote Interpreting  

 

Of course, waiting for an onsite interpreter isn’t always an option. Fortunately, over-the-phone (OPI) and video remote interpreting (VRI) make it possible to connect with one almost anywhere. And here’s where BoostCare Telehealth comes in. This easy-to-use, HIPPA-compliant platform let’s you connect with interpreters who speak over 200 languages in minutes!

It’s a fast, affordable alternative to onsite interpreting.

 

Want to learn more about how BoostCare can improve your practice? Contact us today to start your free trial!

 

Books Interpreters

One of the greatest things about being an interpreter is that you are always learning something new. Interpreters learn deliberately by attending continuing education classes and conferences, by looking up relevant terminology, but also unintentionally, just by virtue of doing their jobs. Any interpreter worth their salt will spend hours if not days preparing for new assignments, whether it is a medical appointment for an unfamiliar specialty or a complex court case. However, sometimes it is worth taking a step back and learning about the profession itself! To help with that, we prepared a selection of our favorite books about interpreting and interpreters. 

 

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything by David Bellos

This book will be of interest to new and experienced interpreters alike, as well as anyone interested in languages and communication. David Bellos writes about the history of interpreting and translation, language, culture and human connection. 

 

Healthcare Interpreting in Small Bites by Cindy Roat 

Written by Cindy Roat, a national language access consultant and a veteran interpreter trainer, this book is a treasure trove of useful insights and practical tips for medical interpreters. Even the most seasoned interpreter can learn from reading this book – and it is definitely a must-read for those starting out in the field. 

 

Interpretation: Techniques and Exercises by James Nolan 

This book has everything you need to know about conference interpreting, and more. Despite being aimed primarily at conference interpreters, it will be of interest and use to interpreters in any field. Starting out with an overview of interpreting modes and the difference between interpreting and translation, it moves on to guidance and practical exercises in interpreting everything from political speeches to idioms. 

 

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words by Ella Frances Sanders 

This book is an absolute delight and will be of interest to anyone interested in all things language and translation. Containing beautiful and quirky illustrations of over 50 words from the world’s languages, this book is a perfect escape into the peculiar world of untranslatable words. 

 

Daniel Stein, Interpreter: A Novel by Ludmila Ulitskaya 

This book, translated from Russian, tells the story of Daniel Stein, a Polish Jew who narrowly survives the Holocaust by working for the Gestapo as an interpreter.  While this particular book is a work of fiction, it does have a basis in real life – Daniel Stein is based on a real person, Oswald Rufeisen, a Carmelite priest. Daniel’s story is told through letters and other documents, letting the reader figure out the rest for themselves. 

 

Happy reading!