An antique telephone that's probably not used by our telephone interpreters

Telephone Interpreting: What is it and How Can it Help You?

COVID-19 is changing the rules of personal interactions. Over the last few weeks, many forms of face-to-face communication have become impossible, creating new technological challenges and making life particularly difficult when participants speak different languages.

Telephone interpreting is a service that’s ordinarily used by the court system, government agencies, call centres, police forces, emergency services and more. However, with COVID-19 blocking many traditional forms of communication, telephone interpreting has become an effective way to overcome language barriers while maintaining social distancing.

What is telephone interpreting?

Telephone interpreting is a fast and efficient way to communicate with non-English and limited-English speakers. Very simply, two people who wish to speak to each other but do not share a common language are connected to a human interpreter via the telephone. After each person speaks, the telephone interpreter converts their spoken language into the language of the listener, so both parties can understand each other.

Most commonly, telephone interpreting is performed consecutively, with the interpreter waiting for each speaker to finish before translating what they have said into the other language. However, there’s also simultaneous telephone interpreting, which is better suited to longer sections of speech, such as the delivery of presentations. By translating the speech while it’s being spoken, it cuts down the need for much longer and more expensive calls.

When can telephone interpreting be used?

Telephone interpreting can be used to facilitate conversations in a range of settings:

  • Healthcare – Telephone interpreting has always played an important role in the provision of healthcare to those who do not speak the native language. However, given the current crisis, many healthcare providers are relying on telephone interpreting more than ever before, particularly for more minor issues. In this case, professional medical interpreters are a must, as they understand the medical terminology used in both languages.
  • Virtual meetings – Business meetings around the world are now going online. By using the skills of a remote video interpreter, you can ensure that everyone has a voice. Video interpreters are much the same as telephone interpreters, but instead of interpreting via the telephone, they join the video call and interpret what’s being said in real-time. This allows participants to hear the speaker and ask questions in their own language with minimal delays.
  • Call centres – Businesses that operate overseas but do not have a multilingual contact centre use telephone interpreters to deliver customer services to non-English speakers. The NHS’ 111 contact centres are another area where the demand for telephone interpreters has increased.

How to get started

Do you need a medical telephone interpreter or someone to interpret your virtual meetings? At Linguistica International, our professional, mother-tongue telephone interpreters provide expert assistance for local authorities, government agencies, SMEs, healthcare providers and many more.

We offer immediate access and the best level of service at low rates. Read more about our telephone interpreting service or call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com for a free quote.