Team Interpreting

Team:  “Two or more people functioning together with a common goal, shared methods, and mutual understanding.” For many years interpreters worked alone on assignments.  This proved to be mentally tiring, emotionally stressful, and physically challenging. In recent years professional interpreters have begun the practice of team interpreting, sharing the responsibilities of the interpreting assignment.

Church interpreters can, and should, learn from the best practices of professional interpreters.  When possible, they should share the responsibilities of interpreting church services. Often one interpreter will interpret all of the music and everything up to the sermon time.  Then the other interpreter interprets the rest of the church service.  However, often they function individually.

Team interpreting involves sharing the total responsibility of interpreting the church service. This allows each interpreter to request help from the other when needed.

Assistance – The non-working interpreter should watch the working interpreter and provide assistance with hard-to-understand words or phrases when requested. Clues for getting assistance should be worked out in advance. The non-working interpreter should not offer help without being asked, unless a major error occurs or unless agreed upon in advance.

Switching – Interpreters should agree in advance when to switch responsibilities.  When it is time to switch, the non-working interpreter should approach the interpreting area and prepare to take over when the other stops interpreting.  Often a signal such as a tap on the shoulder indicates that he is ready.  Then the working interpreter decides when to step aside and allow the other interpreter to take over.

Try these techniques in your church.  You may be surprised how much team interpreting can help!  – Signing Off!

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