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Interpreting: Your Turn
HeatherRobinson,SuccessAcrossBorders
Kent,Washington,USA
Purposeandlearningobjectives
To show participants how mentally taxing and depersonalizing interpreting can be
To demonstrate to participants the importance of keeping their communication short and
simple when working through an interpreter
To introduce participants to the experience of being an interpreter
To allow participants to learn and practice the skill of physical positioning
Targetaudience
Those who communicate through an interpreter; from three people to an unlimited number of
participants
Time
30 minutes
Materials
Flipchart or chalk and board
Handout 1, “Interpreting: Your Turn!” for each participant
Procedure
1. Explain to the participants that they are going to perform a role play in which everyone
will play all three roles.
As the interviewer, they read the script as it appears on the handout.
As the interpreter, they do not read the script, but rather listen to what the interviewer
says and repeat exactly what is said, interpreting from English to English.
As the non-English speaker, they are silent but engaged.
2. Ask the participants to count off in threes. Each group will have a 1, a 2, and a 3 in it.
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3. Announce the roles for Round I as follows:
1s – Interpreter
2s – Interviewer
3s – Non-English speaker
4. Distribute Handout 1 and ask the participants to start. Tell them you will post the assign-
ment for Rounds II and III. When they finish Round I, they can move right on to Round II
and then III.
5. Post the role assignments for Rounds II and III as follows:
Round II Round III
1s Non-English speaker Interviewer
2s Interpreter Non-English speaker
3s Interviewer Interpreter
Debrief
When they finish all three rounds, debrief what they learned from the role play. Points to
mention:
It is very difficult to interpret correctly—to listen, retain, and reproduce language exactly.
It is important to speak in short segments that your interpreters find easier to work with.
There are advantages in physical position.
It is strange and dehumanizing for the interpreter to have to refer to him- or herself in the
third person—this is a good reason to treat the interpreter with kindness and respect dur-
ing pre- and post-sessions.
Interpreting:YourTurn
Reproducedfrom50ActivitiesforAchievingCulturalCompetence,byJonamayLambert,
SelmaMyers,andGeorgeSimons,editors.Amherst,MA:HRDPress,2000,2008
[Handout1]
Interpreting: Your Turn!
“I have asked the interpreter to sit next to you so that I can speak directly to you.”
“The interpreter will interpret everything I say, and only what I say.”
“Likewise, the interpreter will interpret everything and anything you say.”
“I will speak in short phrases so that the interpreter can interpret what I say more easily.”
“The interpreter might need to ask you to stop every so often so that he or she can interpret what
you have said.”
“What questions do you have about the interpreting process?”

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