Cafe Lingo

Immigrants have always made up a large percentage of the U.S. construction industry, and that’s no less true today. As of 2016, they accounted for nearly 25% of the overall construction workforce and 30% of the trades. In states such as California and Texas, the number of non-native workers rises to over 40%.


While their backgrounds and country of origin vary, limited English proficiency (LEP) is one thing many of them have in common. And that’s where construction interpreters come in.


Immigrants in the Construction Industry


Before we delve into how construction interpreters can improve workplace efficiency and safety, let’s get to know the workforce a little better.


Immigrants work at all levels in the construction industry—from unskilled laborers to master tradespersons. However, the concentration of immigrants is especially high in trades that are needed to build homes. The trades with the greatest percentage of immigrants include:


  • Plasters and stucco masons (54%)
  • Drywall installers, ceiling installers, and tapers (49%)
  • Painters and paperhangers (48%)
  • Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers (46%)


The large number of immigrants in these trades is due, in part, to native-born workers leaving the industry after the economic recovery in 2016. Yet despite the need for immigrant labor, language barriers pose a significant problem for construction companies.


The Role of Construction Interpreters   


Although it may seem more cost-efficient to rely on bilingual workers to communicate with their LEP colleagues, there are several reasons why construction companies shouldn’t.


First and foremost, construction interpreters have been trained in interpreting best practices and industry terms. Bilingual workers don’t have a background in interpreting and may not know all the terminology they need in both languages. That means they may misinterpret instructions or safety requirements.


Additionally, bilingual workers may leave out information, believing that it isn’t important to translate. This can lead to costly errors that set projects back and even result in dangerous workplace accidents. A construction interpreter, on the other hand, will accurately convey instructions without editorializing them.


Last, but not least, construction interpreters can assist when a workplace accident occurs. Regardless of how well workers follow safety instructions, accidents happen. When they do, workers need to be able to communicate exactly what happened for liability purposes. OSHA requirements cover all workers, and LEP speakers need to know their rights in a given scenario.


How Boostlingo Can Help


Given the importance of construction interpreters, you may be wondering how you can hire one. Fortunately, the Boostlingo interpreting platform makes it easy to connect with one on-demand either over the phone or via video remote. You can even schedule onsite appointments in advance. Plus, you’ll gain access to our Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN) of interpreters who speak over 200 languages. All you need to get started is an internet connection and a computer or tablet with a webcam for video calls.


Think Boostlingo may be right for you? Start your free trial today!


Interpreting requires a good memory. But no matter how strong yours is, it’s still easy to forget important details. And that’s especially true when you need to interpret larger chunks of speech. Fortunately, there are plenty of note-taking methods that can help you recall details and dialog.

While there’s no right way to take note, here are five strategies to try.


  1. Use theSubject, Verb, Object” (SVO) method.


Write down the subject, verb, and object of the first sentence in descending order, diagonally to the right. Then separate each new sentence or topic with a horizontal line.


This will help you remember the main parts of a sentence and their hierarchical relationship to each other.


  1. Write down keywords and abbreviations.


Instead of writing full sentences, jot down keywords and phrases that will jog your memory.


If you do need to write down a complete thought, use abbreviations where possible. To avoid confusion, write the first and last letters of the word. For example, “computer” can be abbreviated as “comptr”.


  1. Write down key vocabulary or terms in order.


By writing down the most important terms in order, you’ll have a visual timeline of the dialog. This helps you connect them back to smaller details and can even help you recall difficult vocabulary.


You can also try checking each term off as you say it. This will help guide you through the sentence and help ensure you don’t forget anything.


  1. Draw pictures and symbols.


Doodling can improve your memory, so feel free to sketch out some images as you listen.


You can also use symbols to signify the meaning of different words and phrases. For example, you can underline a word to indicate emphasis or draw a line through a word to indicate negation.


5 Group main ideas and supporting ideas.


Using keywords, write down the main idea of each topic as you hear it. Then write down keywords for the supporting points. Draw arrows to connect the ideas according to the flow of dialog. Think of it as “mind mapping” for interpreters.


More Note-Taking Resources for Interpreters


If you want a more detailed look at note-taking, check out:

You can test out these techniques at home by interpreting podcasts or videos as you listen. And remember, developing a note-taking strategy that works for you takes trial and error, and of course, practice.

Have any note taking tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

In the U.S., interpreters are typically classified as independent contractors. But that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from undergoing a background check before accepting assignments. While the laws around background checks vary by state, here are some general guidelines.


Background Checks for Medical Interpreters


To apply for a medical interpreter role, you’ll need to submit a resume, current CEU transcript, and your certification or equivalent qualification.


Before you’re hired, you must agree in writing to undergo a criminal background check. This includes checking arrest records, convictions of felonies and misdemeanors, warrants, and incarceration records. It doesn’t include credit history or financial records.


To run the background check, you may need to make arrangements with a third-party organization. Other medical facilities have a designated provider and will submit your information. You’ll likely need to pay a small fee ($10 – $20) for a statewide background check.


You must also provide vaccination records for Mumps, Measles, Rubella, Chicken pox (Varicella), Pertussis, and Hepatitis B, and undergo a Tuberculosis screening.


Some medical facilities will ask you to take a drug test.


Background Checks for Court Interpreters


To apply for a court interpreter role, the process will vary slightly based on whether it’s for a State or Federal court. Both State and Federal courts may ask for a resume, current CEU transcript, and your certification or equivalent qualification. However, the background check you undergo will differ.


Federal Courts


As of May 16, 2005, Federal courts require all contractors—including interpreters—to undergo a fingerprint background check. This is a nationwide criminal background check that’s performed by the FBI.


The FBI will collate all arrests, felonies, and serious misdemeanors. The report may also include some financial information such as credit reports. However, it rarely includes moving violations or small fines.


Fingerprint background checks cost around $90 and must be renewed every two years.


State Courts


State courts typically conduct a statewide background check. (See the medical interpreter section for details.) You may also need a fingerprint clearance card.


Background Check for Other Interpreters


If you work in a field other than medical or legal, the background check will depend on the federal, state, and the organization’s requirements.


In addition to criminal records, some background checks include credit reports, your financial history, and work history. Some organizations may also request references.


If you work around children, you’ll need to undergo a federal background check.


Final Tips on Background Checks


Although background checks sound scary, you likely have nothing to worry about. However, if you want to know what potential clients will see, you can run a background check on yourself.


Keep in mind that if you do have a criminal record, it won’t automatically disqualify you from being hired. Most employers will give you the opportunity to explain the situation and demonstrate how you’ve redeemed yourself.


And remember, clients must always ask you to submit authorization for a background check in writing before they conduct one!

Becoming financially literate is difficult—even for English speakers. It requires learning industry-specific terms, understanding financial products, and navigating complex regulations. However, it can be nearly impossible for limited English proficiency (LEP) speakers, unless they have access to information in their native language. Fortunately, remote interpreting options makes it easier than ever to better serve LEP consumers’ needs.


The Growing Multicultural Market


Before we dive into the benefits of remote interpreting, let’s get to know this growing market segment. Today, nearly 22% of U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home, up from 11% in 1980. And their purchasing power is on the rise. As of 2019, Asian Americans represent a $1 trillion market, up 267% since 2000. Meanwhile, Hispanic Americans make up a $1.5 trillion market—making them the largest and second fastest growing minority market in the country.


Yet despite their increasing wealth, many LEP speakers still don’t enjoy the benefits of

banking, lines of credit, and loans. This is due, in part, to cultural differences around banking and finance. In fact, countries as diverse as China, India, Nigeria, and Mexico all have large populations without a bank account.


Common Barriers to Financial Inclusion


Educating LEP speakers about financial services is the first step toward inclusion. But that requires providing educational materials and documents in their native language as well as assistance from someone who speaks it. That also extends to completing applications and resolving issues once they become customers.


While bilingual representatives and onsite interpreters can help, they may not always be available. When that’s the case, customers may need to wait for extended periods of time. Or they may be forced to struggle through a conversation in English. And these negative experiences hurt client satisfaction.


The Benefits of Remote Interpreting 


With remote interpreting, customers no longer need to wait. Thanks to over-the-phone (OPI) and video remote interpreting (VRI), you can always connect with an interpreter in minutes. Plus, remote interpreting makes it possible to help customers who need assistance:


  • In a less common language. Remote interpreting services aren’t limited to Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and other major world languages.
  • Over the phone. As more people bank online or over the phone, OPI has become as essential as onsite interpreting.
  • Outside business hours. Remote interpreters accept calls outside standard business hours.


Best of all, you’ll improve customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention—regardless of the language someone speaks.


How Boostlingo Can Help


With Boostlingo’s interpreting platform, you can quickly connect with an interpreter over-the-phone, via video remote, or schedule onsite appointments. All you need is an internet connect and a computer or tablet for video calls. Plus, you’ll get access to our network of professional interpreters who speak over 200 languages.


Think Boostlingo may be right for you? Contact us today to start your free trial!

When it comes to professional interpreting, specialization matters. You need someone who’s not only a trained interpreter, but has a deep knowledge of the field they work in. Just as you wouldn’t hire a lawyer to treat your illness, you wouldn’t bring a legal interpreter to a medical exam. So, what is a community interpreter and when would you need one?


Types of Community Interpreting   


Community interpreting is an umbrella term for interpreting services that are performed in community-based settings. It includes medical, legal, educational, and other types of social services interpreting.


Like most professional interpreters, community interpreters often have specialized training in one or more fields. For example, someone can be both a community interpreter and a certified medical interpreter or legal interpreter. However, there is a distinction between someone who has interpreter training in a given field and a community interpreter.


Community interpreters typically work with immigrants, migrants, and refugees who need assistance navigating public services. That means community interpreters must have a deep understanding of how a system works—in addition to their field of expertise. For example, a community medical interpreter may work with refugees who need to apply for free or low-cost medical care.


When Do You Need a Community Interpreter?


As noted above, you’ll typically need to hire a community interpreter when someone needs help navigating public services. Yet that’s not the only reason you may want to work with one. Community interpreters have an in-depth knowledge of the local culture, which can be a major advantage in certain scenarios.


Let’s use legal interpreting as an example. It’s unlikely that a legal interpreter in San Francisco will understand the relationship that a Los Angeles immigrant community has with local law enforcement. But a community interpreter may know that people in the area distrust the police, and can help improve cooperation during an investigation.


Whether or not you decide to work with a community interpreter will depend on your needs and how quickly you need access to one. When it’s an emergency or you need someone on short notice, it may be best to hire a remote interpreter, regardless of their location.


How Boostlingo Can Help


As you can see, finding the right interpreter can be a difficult task. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever with Boostlingo. When you use our interpretation platform, you can instantly connect with an interpreter over-the-phone, via video remote, or schedule an onsite appointment. Plus, you’ll gain access to the Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN) of interpreters who speak over 200 languages.


Think Boostlingo may be right for you? Start your free trial today!

With the recent explosion of podcasts, there’s something out there for everyone. So, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty to choose from when it comes to the language industry. The only trouble is finding ones you want to tune into week after week. That’s why we put together a round up to get you started.


Whether you’re an interpreter, industry professional, or an all-around language lover, here are seven podcasts that are worth a listen.


  1. The ATA Podcast


The American Translators Association’s official podcast offers an inside look at the organization’s events, professional development programs, and industry trends. Recent topics include court interpreting, socially distanced school outreach, and the ATA Honors and Awards program.


Where to Listen: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Audible


  1. Brand the Interpreter


Hosted by Mireya Pérez, a community interpreter and brand enthusiast, this podcast features stories of language professionals from around the world. Recent topics include video game localization, self-imposed limitations, and tips for conference interpreting.


Where to Listen: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Audible


  1. Globally Speaking


Created by localization professionals, this podcast explores how language, society, and business intersect. Recent topics include hyper-personalization in marketing, opening China to the global market, and the impact of Tinder on worldwide dating.


Where to Listen: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts


  1. Lexicon Valley


Lexicon Valley is all about language. Hosted by linguist John McWhorter, it features everything from pet peeves to neurolinguistics. Recent topics include the complexities of translation, gendered languages, and the origin of English.


Where to Listen: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Audible


  1. SlatorPod


Brought to you by, this podcast covers news and trends in translation, localization, and language technology. Recent topics include localization at Canva, speech translation, and multilingual meetings.


Where to Listen: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Audible


  1. Troublesome Terps


This roundtable-style podcast covers topics related to interpreting and the wider world of languages. Recent topics include how interpreters think, new ways of working, and interpreting in conflict zones.


Where to Listen: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts


  1. A Way with Words


Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, this global call-in podcast features conversations on linguistics, regional dialects, expressions, word origins, and so much more. Recent topics include the origin of the word “hipster”, conversational styles, and the history of human speech.


Where to Listen: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts



Have a favorite language podcast you’d like to recommend? Let us know in the comments!

Vicarious trauma, also known as secondary trauma, is a well-known occupational hazard among workers in helping professions. Although it’s typically associated with counselors and therapists, rescue workers, police officers, healthcare workers, and legal professionals are all considered at risk. Yet interpreters are often overlooked when it comes to evaluating the effects of vicarious trauma. That means they may have more trouble finding the support and resources they need to address it.


In this article, we delve into what causes vicarious trauma, why interpreters are at risk, and how to prevent it.


What Is Vicarious Trauma?


Vicarious trauma is a type of mental trauma that can occur when someone is indirectly exposed to a traumatic event through a first-hand account. A few common signs include:


  • Constant fatigue
  • Hypersensitivity to emotionally-charged material
  • Intrusive thoughts and imagery related to traumatic events
  • Engaging in behaviors to escape (overeating, drinking alcohol, shopping, etc.)


Anyone who has a close relationship with someone who has been traumatized can experience vicarious trauma. However, people who work in helping professions are at a greater risk due to their repeated exposure to traumatic stories.


Why Interpreters Are at Risk


Unlike other professionals, interpreters are tasked with restating the facts as closely as possible in another language. And that includes speaking in first person. For example, if someone is reporting a robbery, the interpreter would say, “I was robbed” instead of saying “She was robbed.” This can inadvertently put an interpreter into the mindset of the victim.


Legal and medical interpreters are at a higher risk of experiencing vicarious trauma because they need to recount stories from refugees, victims of crimes, and medical patients.


How to Prevent Vicarious Trauma


While it’s not always possible to prevent it, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. These include:


  • Scheduling time for regular self-care.
  • Balancing the types of assignments you take on to avoid burnout.
  • Speaking with a therapist


Undergoing training to learn interpreter-specific techniques can also be beneficial, which is why we’ve included a list of resources that may help.


Resources for Interpreters


American Sign Language (ASL):



Medical Interpreting



Legal Interpreting



Have any other recommendations? Let us know in the comments!

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 80% of interpreting assignments were performed onsite. The rest were conducted either over the phone (OPI) or via video remote. But that number flipped within weeks as industries scrambled to adapt to the “new normal.” While telemedicine made it easier for healthcare providers to make the switch, the legal system struggled to adapt.

Fast forward a year, and certain types of virtual legal proceedings are becoming the norm—and so is remote legal interpreting. Here’s how you can ensure that transition is as smooth as possible.


Choosing a Remote Legal Interpreter  


Remote interpreting options mean that the talent pool is bigger than ever. You no longer need to hire an interpreter who can travel within a limited radius. But that also makes it harder to decide who’s the best fit for an assignment. Before you hire someone, consider:


  • State Certification – In some scenarios, you many need an interpreter who is certified in your state. Even if certification isn’t required, you should still work with an in-state interpreter, as they’ll have training in state-specific laws.
  • Legal Specialization – Some legal interpreters have undergone training in a specific area of law such as immigration. If you need someone with a particular background, ask about their experience in the field as well as any references.
  • Remote Interpreting Experience – Not all interpreters have experience working remotely. Before you hire someone, ask about the remote training they’ve had and whether they’re comfortable working in a virtual format.


Now that you know a little more about how to choose a remote interpreter, let’s move on to how to prepare them for an assignment.


Preparing a Remote Legal Interpreter  


Although remoting interpreting makes it possible to connect someone on-demand, that doesn’t mean you should forgo scheduling a session. That’s because the interpreter still needs time to familiarize themselves with the case, review terminology, and gain an understanding of the session’s goals.


If you normally have rehearsals with an onsite interpreter, schedule those remotely as well. For example, say you’re a lawyer who has a client with limited English proficiency. You could schedule a remote rehearsal session with the client and the legal interpreter to help ensure both parties know what to expect.


Preparing for a Remote Legal Interpreting Session


Last, but certainly not least, you need to prepare for the session itself. Remote interpreting poses some unique challenges that can impact the outcome. You’ll need to address these to prevent interruptions. Before you start:


  • Check your internet connect to ensure there are no lags.
  • Test your camera and microphone, if it’s a video remote session.
  • Minimize noise and distractions.


Following these tips will help you recreate a professional setting within the virtual space.


How Boostlingo Can Help    


With Boostlingo’s interpreting platform, it’s easier than ever to find a legal interpreter, schedule a session, and conduct one over the phone or remote video. All you need is an internet connection and a computer or tablet with a web cam to get started. Plus, you’ll gain access to the Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN) of interpreters who speak over 200 languages.


Think Boostlingo may be right for you? Start your free trial today!

With COVID-19 vaccinations well underway, the end of the pandemic may soon be in sight. Yet barriers to getting vaccinated still exist, especially among low income and limited English proficiency (LEP) speakers. Although healthcare organizations have worked to improve access to Spanish medical interpreters, many are falling behind when it comes to other languages. And that’s left Asian communities, with their diverse language needs, struggling to navigate the healthcare system. Fortunately, remote interpreting options can bridge this barrier, and help ensure everyone who wants the vaccine can get it.


The Diversity of Asian Communities


Before we dive into the benefits of remote interpreting, let’s take a look at Asian communities in the U.S.


According to a 2019 Census Bureau population estimate, roughly 18.9 million Asians live in the U.S., making up 5.7% of the total population. States with the largest Asian populations include: California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, Florida, Virginia, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.


However, English proficiency and income levels vary widely within groups and significantly impact their ability to access healthcare.


Overall, 30.9% of Asian Americans speak English “less than very well.” Broken out by national origin, the following groups reported the same:


  • Vietnamese – 48.2%.
  • Chinese – 42%.
  • Filipinos – 19.8%
  • Asian Indians – 17.7%


Asians are also the most economically divided group in the county. In 2016, Asians in the top 90th percentile of income distribution had 10.7 times the income of Asians in the 10th percentile. African Americans made up the second most divided group (9.8), followed by Whites (7.8) and Hispanics (7.8).


When it comes to healthcare, vulnerable Asian Americans—including refugees and the elderly—are often faced with both language and income barriers. Lack of access to technology and transportation can make it difficult to even make an appointment in states such as Texas.


Bridging Language Barriers with Remote Interpreting


The good news is that language barriers are easy to overcome with remote interpreting. Options such as video remote (VRI) and over-the-phone (OPI) interpreting offer affordable ways to connect with a medical interpreter on demand. Patients no longer need to wait for an interpreter to arrive onsite, and healthcare providers no longer need to pay for travel expenses.


When you use Boostlingo’s interpretation platform, you never have to worry about privacy—it’s HIPAA compliant. Plus, you’ll gain access to our Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN), which supports over 200 languages including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Guajarati, and many other Asian languages.


Think Boostlingo may be right for you? Start your free trial today!

American Sign Language (ASL) has a complicated history in the U.S. Prior to 1817, hearing families of deaf children relied on informal signs to communicate. That changed for some when Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet opened the American School for the Deaf that same year. Adopting the methods of the National Institute for Deaf Children of Paris, he helped create a formal signing system for deaf students. But deaf African American children were excluded from receiving an education.


The Origin of Black American Sign Language (BASL)


While white children could learn ASL as early as 1817, it wasn’t until after the Civil War that African American children could do the same. In 1869, the North Carolina School for the Negro Deaf and Blind opened to serve the community. However, due to segregation, the students began learning a distinct form of ASL that would one day be known as Black American Sign Language.


Although school segregation was ruled unlawful in 1954, many schools in the American South remained largely segregated into the 1970s. That meant deaf African American students who lived in the region continued learning BASL.


Today, deaf African American students attend integrated schools and learn to use ASL in formal settings. Yet many still prefer to use BASL among family, friends, and within their community.


How BASL Differs From ASL


The two languages are mutually intelligible, but BASL has a few distinct features. These include using:


  • Larger signing spaces, which means signs are produced further away from the body.
  • Two-handed variants of signs.
  • More facial expressions.
  • African American slang.
  • More repetition.


To see for yourself, check out this two-minute video with Charmay, the 22-year-old deaf TikToker who went viral.


Interpreting for BASL


In some settings, an ASL interpreter with a background in BASL can more accurately interpret between sign language and English. That’s because an understanding of the cultural differences and nuances of BASL helps ensure no information is lost. Church services and Hip-hop concerts are just two types of events where BASL interpreting makes all the difference.


Preserving BASL for Future Generations


Unfortunately, BASL hasn’t always received the respect and recognition it deserves. Even today, ASL is often considered the standard for deaf signers.


As Carolyn McCaskill, a professor at Gallaudet University told ABC News, “White is right—that’s what I thought. That was what was prevalent.” A deaf sign language user herself, she wants to change that perception. McCaskill has already written a book titled The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL and is the founding director of Gallaudet’s Center for Black Deaf students.


Organizations such as the North Carolina Black Deaf Advocates (NCBDA) have also developed programming that fosters and protects BASL as well as members of the community.


So, what can you do to help it alive? By spreading the world about BASL and its unique culture, we can all help debunk the myth that it’s an inferior form of sign language!