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Interpreters Want to See You Shine

I love my job. I know, I am lucky! The agencies that hire me usually go beyond the norm. But their clients have no idea of the work we do, the preparation required, the pressure we perform under and the minimum requirements for us to deliver at the level they want. And that usually spells problems.

“Working Conditions”? What is that?

Performing without a booth at a large conference was never a consideration of mine. Who would EVER request that? Yup, it has happened. A group of interpreters is added last minute and there you are; a team goes without a booth. Interpreting from a half-booth in a stairwell? Been there, done that. More people than expected signed up for the event, so instead of moving the meeting to a larger venue, the organizers removed the interpreters from the room and placed them into the stairwell next door. A safety hazard, but the show must go on. How about standing up behind the AV console because the event planner forgot to hire the interpreters? (I thought I was getting a break!) Or working from the mechanical area where all the equipment is stored? For sure! Dark, hot, and you must be extra careful not to trip on a cable and disconnect something…

Unbeknownst to our clients, there are professional standards covering everything from the materials and dimensions of the booths we work in, the quality of the sound we are fed, the languages we speak (no, Portuñol is not a language), how long each professional can cover solo, to the recording of our voices, and much more. We also have Codes of Ethics to follow. There are Codes of Ethics for medical interpreters, federal and state court interpreters, conference interpreters, and the professional associations we are affiliated with also have their own Codes of Ethics.

Really! We are responsible professionals. Does that apply to 100% of us? No. There are exceptions, just like any other profession. Don’t let that one bad apple spoil your trust.

Lack of foresight affects everyone

I wish I could tell you that the mishaps I mentioned above took place in events for small, low-budget companies. No, it was exactly the opposite for each of those events – and there are many more examples. The reason such mishaps occur is because interpreting services are usually an afterthought. The impression we get is that when companies realize “some of those attending the event don’t speak English,” they do not have a full vision of the situation. Allow me to share some insights.

When “some of those attending do not speak English,” that means you will need to:

  • hire professionals who can interpret into the languages those guys speak
  • hire a pair for each language spoken, if you require their services for longer than 45 minutes at a time
  • provide proper working space for these professionals and

> that space must have a view of the speaker – whether direct or indirect

> if indirect, that means having monitors available in the booths or in view of the booths

  • provide some means of ventilation so the professionals can breathe (yes, really!)
  • count them among your guests or staff for food purposes
  • provide fresh water in the booths, in bottles for safety
  • know that interpreters need to study the material to deliver quality
  • know that professional interpreters are bound by Codes of Ethics, which include confidentiality
  • be aware that our work starts at least two weeks before your event, not when we enter the booth

Interpreters are all-knowing beings. NOT!

One detail most of our clients fail to understand is that interpreters are not necessarily subject matter experts. Yes, we speak at least two languages and we are fluent in both. But that does not mean we are able to discuss every subject under the sun in the same language of your speaker and with the same fluency. An example: would you be able to discuss Astrophysics with an authority in that field in your own language? There are subjects of which we all have a passive understanding.

And, please, be aware that delivering the presentation to us two minutes before showtime can be counter-productive. We need time to study your material to be ready, to help your politicians or scientists or physicians or researchers sound as intelligent in the foreign languages as they do in their own.

But we don’t have the material,” you say. Easy: provide to us a link to last year’s event, speakers’ biographies, the agenda and we will do the research, develop glossaries, study what is available. You can get more ideas in my 2016 article Embrace Your Interpreter.

I want to convey to you, our clients, that when you commission us, professional interpreters, to be your company’s voice and help you convert your ROI, we become part of your team. Treat us as such. After all, we are a big investment in your project.

We want to see you, the client, shine because that’s when we shine.


All photos by Gio Lester. All rights reserved.

The article first appeared on Gio’s LinkedIn
To learn more about conference interpreting from Gio, check out this webinar.

Featured Interpreter: Giovanna Lester

Q: How long have you been an interpreter and why/how did you get started in the field?

It was 1979 when I first started interpreting for my boss as part of my job. I did not know that was a profession or that it could become a career. The next year I was laid off as part of the company’s reorganization process, and I discovered that my knowledge of English could put food on the table. I started teaching the language, then my students (company executives) started requesting my services as an interpreter and that’s how I started. I had to do it all: simultaneous, sight, consecutive, chuchotage.

Q: What was your first interpreting job?

Interpreting in the office for American Express clients and VIPs in Brazil. In the US, I was expected to interpret as an escort for executives of the bank I worked at, and my first conference was the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative in 1992, under President Bush, Sr.

Q: How do you prepare for assignments?

Research. I am so extremely grateful for the Internet! Most of my work is for international conferences and confidential. Many companies do not understand our oath of confidentiality and refuse to give us material. But YouTube, search engines, TedTalks, and online publications make it a lot easier to fill in the blanks.

The first step, if the client refuses to send material, is to check into the company. Then check the previous year’s event or events in other companies in the same segment. If you can find who the speakers are going to be, check YouTube for any videos – that will help you with style, vocabulary, rhythm, accents, etc.

Recently, I attended a 2-day workshop by Darinka Mangino and Maha El-Metwally on computer aided interpreting and learned a few tools to help with glossary creation, term extraction and training. They will be put to good use.

Q: What was the funniest/most interesting experience on the job?

It was a financial conference in the gorgeous Gaylord Resort, in Texas. We had a special breakout session just for the Brazilian group and, unfortunately, the tech guy provided the team with the wrong transmitter. I had to start on consecutive so as not to waste time. Mind you, since we had the equipment, I left my notepad in the booth and all I had with me was a 3×3 inches “idea booklet” – a souvenir from one of the stands we passed on the way. Well, 30 minutes later, the right equipment arrived, but they chose to continue on consecutive –“It was more fun!”

Q: What was the saddest experience on the job?

Oh, that one almost had me in tears. It was an IME (Independent Medical Examination) for a case involving a severe head injury. After the physician evaluated the patient, it was his wife’s turn to ask questions. They were very young, less than 5 years married, in their early twenties, with all of their dreams still being born… And she asked the doctor when her husband would get back to normal. I had to take a sip of water before speaking.

Q: Which social media do you use, if any? If you do, what are your most favorite pages/accounts/groups to read?

I have three Twitter accounts – one is going to be retired soon. My personal account is @cariobana, and my business account is @ConVTI2019. Right now, I follow avidly @TranslationTalk, a rotationally-curated account with a new curator every Sunday. It has become a vice. @MadalynSklar is a marketing guru and I love the work she does; it is not T&I related, but there is much we, as entrepreneurs, can learn from her. @LinguaGreca, by Catherine Christaki, always has great stuff. @Ana Lucia Amaral covers business intelligence, cyber security and marketing. The other accounts are colleagues and associations – @fit_ift, @FIT_LatAm, @_abrates, @atanet, @NAJITOrg, @NAJITObserver – all organizations I am involved with. I mean, I have about 100 more I can put here.

And I belong to a plethora of groups on Facebook: medical interpreting, court interpreting, conference interpreting, fun groups, colleagues-helping-colleagues group… They are so numerous because I belong to groups in all of the three languages I am involved with – English, Portuguese, and Spanish (desperately want to learn more Spanish vocabulary).

Q: What are your favorite movies/literature in your target language? Can you recommend something to our readers?

 I left Brazil almost 35 years ago, and I am ashamed to say I have not kept up with its classical literature. I read mostly a style called “crônicas” – short stories that stand alone, sometimes shorter than one page. João Ubaldo Ribeiro and Luiz Fernando Veríssimo are my favorite. Their style is very contemporary and fresh.

My favorite movies are from the 80s, Gaijin, the history of Japanese immigration to Brazil, and Eles não usam black-tie (People like us).

Q: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming interpreter?

  • Learn the business side of the profession.
  • Read the Codes of Ethics: they are there to protect YOU.
  • Do not speak in anger. Develop a standard phrase for those situations, like “I understand and will look into it.”

Q: As a former Vice President of the National Board who advised candidates preparing for the medical certification exam, what can you recommend our readers and students aiming to get certified?

My first recommendation is to visit the IMIA website. The IMIA is an umbrella organization and candidates will find information on many areas related to Medical Interpreting, especially resources. The next step would be to visit both the CCHI and National Board websites for more resources and training materials. The tests are not necessarily one easier than the other: they both require 40 hours of training and focus during the exam itself.

Once the candidate chooses which exam to take – many take both – focus on the requirements of that one.

Q: What do you do to develop your professional skills? Webinars, conferences? If the latter, which conferences do you prefer and why? 

All of the above, books, workshops, listen to the radio and now podcasts in both languages I work with. I have not developed the courage to delve into podcasts in Spanish.

Recently, I went to the Cuba-Quebec 11th Symposium on T&I, in Varadero, Cuba, the 3rd Int’l Conference of the Panamanian T&I Association, in Panama City, Panama, the 10th Int’l Conference of the Brazilian T&I Association, in São Paulo, Brazil. I also attend non-T&I related events, such as Unbound (marketing), speakers’ workshops, etc.

I recommend that people join associations in the countries whose languages they speak. That’s why I am a member of the American Translators Association and of the Brazilian Translators and Interpreters Association. It is an affordable way to stay in touch with my languages. I also take courses in both languages. Right now, I am studying Comparative Law at a Brazilian online school.

Q: Is there anything you feel lacking in educational options out there? If you were to choose the topic for a new webinar or course, what would it be?

Jonathan Hine’s business essentials. There is plenty of training on how to be a good professional, but very little on how to run your own business, what tools are available to assist us, how to negotiate fair prices and working conditions. Also, contract negotiations. That is a hard one. Most freelancers in our profession believe they can not negotiate terms and that the agencies have an anvil over their heads. That attitude must change if we really want to be respected as professionals.

Q: What would you like changed or improved in the industry?

Do you have a year??? Just kidding. The number one thing is to teach end users of interpreting services that interpreters are human beings. That interpreters are not always subject matter experts and don’t know all the words in the dictionary. That if clients want to be understood, they have to pace themselves and allow for the interpreting process to take place: stop interrupting the interpreter with extra information!

And payment is not a luxury, it is how we make a living.

Basically, I think most professional training is right on and there’s little improvement needed, but our clients need a lesson on how to use our services. Yes, it is a generalization, so take it with a grain of salt from someone who has been active in the profession for over 39 years, in different countries, in different settings.  

Q: What is the most important to be successful as an interpreter, in your opinion?

Learn to listen actively. Don’t focus on how you are going to frame what was said as much as on the essence of what is being said. Notice the difference in verb tense: be in the moment.

That is, assuming you have the required ability to deliver what is expected of you: a clear message, nearly as eloquently delivered by the speaker as possible.

You can find Gio on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Interpreting: Stepping into the Booth for the First Time

By Gio Lester

The text below is aimed at individuals who have been trained but are stepping into a booth as professionals for the first time. These are my thoughts —nothing scientific about them, just good old experience, gut and gumption.

So, the first thing you need to do is RELAX. The second is practice. You have most of the skills and now it is a matter of aligning those you have and maybe adding a few more.

There are a few sites on the internet to help you (later) and a few things I can share:

  1. Remember, at a conference, you will not interpret word for word: Pay attention to the whole message.
  2. Breathe. You will start to speak after a complete idea is put forth: Good Morning is a complete idea; The good, kind, honest [??] is not a complete idea because you do not know the noun all those adjectives apply to (doctor, professor, man, kid?).
    • Learn to pace yourself
    • During your practice, play with decalage [time between hearing the message in L1 and delivering it in L2] and allow yourself time to understand the message
  3. It is important for conference interpreters to identify the speaker’s style.
    • Loves to fill in the gaps: You know, well, let me just tell you… >> they allow you to jump through these empty nuggets of sound and get to the real subject with less pressure.
    • Runs like the wind: Speaks at 180-210 words a minute >> if they are also like the example above, that means you can breathe easier, otherwise, there isn’t much you can do other than switch more often with your colleague.
    • Knows how to present: You got an ally, just pace yourself.
  4. The conference website is a treasure trove of information you can use to strengthen your performance. Even last year’s website, especially when the material on the current event is hard to come by.
    • Look up who the speakers are.
    • Check if YouTube has any of their previous appearances and listen to them (accents, language vices, speed).
    • Copy their bios and read them. Try to summarize the texts because very likely they will be read at breakneck speed:
      • Mary Strider Naggut-Lo, President and CEO of Lo & Behold Inc., has a Ph.D. in Martial Arts, a BA in Marketing; served as Marketing Manager at We Got It International, with headquarters in Qatar, General Marketing Advisor at News For You, with main offices in Austria, Head of Marketing at One, Two, Take Off, Inc, with offices in Paris …. >> write down the relevant information: name, current employment, most important degree; summarize the rest. Held many administrative positions at various international organizations [or whatever works in your case]. Do listen during the actual event in case there is an update.
    • Unusual vocabulary: You can find out a lot about the company and speakers and create a glossary based on that.
    • Check their competition online just for extra vocabulary.
  5. At a conference, you are helping the speaker tell a story so
    • Listen attentively.
    • Write down specific data (dates, numbers, amounts – things you might forget – MAR 20, 2K = 2000, >5 = more than 5 [I am especially horrible with numbers!].

Here are the websites I use when speaking about interpreting. I strongly suggest you check them out but choose only one or two to work with at a time—you do not want to overload.

Once in the booth, you and your colleague will take turns on the microphone because your brain will melt after 30 minutes (not literally) and you will not notice—just like the frog in boiling water. And yesit is a generalization but with lots of data to back it up. There are a few instances when one can go for longer than 40 minutes without losing quality, and that will depend a lot on the speaker and the interpreter’s knowledge of the subject. Another thing to mind in the booth is your manners, but that would take a whole new article; for now, just read the second link below.

Still curious? Here is more on simultaneous interpreting:

About the author:

Brazilian-born Giovanna “Gio” Lester, Co-Chair of NAJIT’s PR Committee, started her career in translation and interpreting in 1980. Gio is very active in her profession and in the associations she is affiliated with. In 2009, she co-founded the Florida ATA Chapter (ATIF), served as its first elected president (2011-2012), and later as president of its interim board. As an international conference interpreter, Gio has been the voice of government heads and officials, scientists, researchers, doctors, hairdressers, teachers, engineers, investors and more. Gio has been a contributor to The NAJIT Observer since its inception in 2011, and its Editor since 2016. In 2017 she was appointed Chair of the Miami Dade College Translation and Interpretation Advisory Committee, which she had been a member of since 2014. In 2018, Gio was elected to the Executive Committee of the Brazilian Association of Translators and Interpreters,  Abrates, as its General Secretary. You can follow her on Twitter (@cariobana) and she can also be reached at

This article first appeared on

ATA Members to Vote on 23rd ATA Division

By Tram Bui, Administrator of Southeast Asian Language Division (SEALD)

The typical role of a professional association is to enable individual practitioners to collaborate, learn from each other, and speak with a (hopefully) unified, collective voice. For 60 years, the American Translators Association (ATA) has been the voice of translators, and more recently, interpreters practicing in the US. Over the years, divisions were formed to make collaborations easier among linguists who speak particular languages or who have a common topical interest.

I lead a group that has petitioned the ATA to form a South East Asian Language Division, and our request has been accepted. Most professional linguists who work in these languages have learned their trade with limited access to formal skills training and have not had the opportunity to collaborate with their linguistic and cultural peers. Many, if not most, have earned a post-secondary degree, either at the bachelor or graduate level, but have struggled as they sought to provide services professionally. Most have been troubled when observing other linguists, who were providing services for a fee, fall short of industry standards. Both clients and the profession suffer when this happens.

Our Goal: Our vision is to promote professional practice standards that are consistent with the ATA’s stated norms and values. We want to do this in a forum, and in an adapted way that encourages learning with a culturally relevant approach.

Our Challenge: In the US, despite a large number of immigrants from this region who are monolingual and who often have a common experience of refugee status, there are relatively few members of the ATA who use these languages professionally. Most linguists who practice in these languages do so independently, without a connection to, or awareness of, a larger collective. There are several reasons for this, and in end, professionalism and job prospects suffer.

Our Request: If you work in a South East Asian Language, please join us! Whether you want to learn or share your experience with others, you have a place in our division. If you are an ATA member, regardless of your working languages, please consider supporting our new division by voting for its formation. We hope to attract more linguists to the ATA, particularly those practicing a language used in any of the ASEAN countries. The major languages in these SE Asian countries are Burmese, Hmong, Lao, Indonesian, Khmer, Malay, Nepali, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. Finally, if you have ideas for content that can be shared or be adapted, we would love that too.

We RISE when we UPLIFT each other.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tram Bui is a NBCMI Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI- Vietnamese) with over 15 years of experience. She was born in Saigon, Vietnam and emigrated in 1975 as a political refugee. She now lives in Arizona. She is a voting member of the American Translators Association (ATA), an active member of the Arizona Translators and Interpreters Association (ATI), Interpreters Guild of America (IGA), and the National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare (NCIHC).

She can be reached by email at:

Featured Interpreter: María (Mila) Baker CMI, CHI™ Spanish, M.A. in Spanish and TESOL

Q: How long have you been an interpreter and why/how did you get started in the field?

I have been an interpreter for approximately 5 years. I had just moved to Huntsville, AL, where I currently live. I had finished my Masters degree, and had been doing some translation work for private clients while in college. I figured I would continue to do that, so I looked up language service agencies in Huntsville and emailed them my resume. One of these agencies contacted me back 20 minutes later, to ask me if I was interested in becoming a medical interpreter. I said yes… and the rest is history.

Q: What was your first interpreting job?

I first started interpreting in outpatient settings. My first assignment involved pediatric oncology.

Q: How do you prepare for assignments?

I try to find out as much as I can about the appointment. Normally the first thing I do is look up the address and find the best way to get there. Knowing what type of clinic or facility I will be working in (for example, a neurologist’s office), I think about three things: symptoms (what kinds of complaints patients might have), diagnoses, and medication. Based on this, I can review key terminology, and even carry it in my notebook for a quick glance. The last thing I do is pick what clothes to wear. I think how we present ourselves still has an influence in how seriously we are taken as professionals, although some think it shouldn’t.

Q: What was the funniest/most interesting experience on the job?

I’ve had many interesting appointments, but I will never forget going to a urologist with a male patient. It turns out he was there for a consultation about sexual dysfunction! This was something I knew very little about at the time, and I also feared the patient might be uncomfortable having a female interpreter. Fortunately, the patient had a really good attitude, and trusted that I was a professional. That appointment really made me think about gender roles in various cultures, and how we need to be sensitive and professional in these cases.

Q: What was the saddest experience on the job?

The saddest experiences I’ve had were generally end-of-life cases. I understand why that area of work is not for any interpreter, and we must be very self-aware and know our own limitations. In the end, I come out stronger and better as a professional, but it is always sad.

Q: Which social media do you use, if any? If you do, what are your most favorite pages/accounts/groups to read?

I use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. They all serve different purposes. I follow groups for interpreters and translators on Facebook. On these groups, people share articles of interest, but more importantly, they ask questions. I help answer them when I can, but I mostly learn from other answers. I keep LinkedIn updated for possible clients and fellow interpreters and translators. I also look at the job postings, not necessarily because I’m looking for a job, but I like to stay in touch with the job market (Indeed is another good platform for that). I like to follow professional organizations from all over the country, such as CCHI or ATA on Twitter. I find out about conferences and other events, as well as opportunities for professional development. I also like to follow translators like Xosé Castro and Jeromobot because they are very good at marketing themselves and their work, and I think I can learn from them.

Q: What are your favorite movies/literature in your target language? Can you recommend something to our readers?

I may be biased here because it is where I come from, but I think everyone should read some storytellers from Argentina, such as Jorge Luis Borges, or Horacio Quiroga. If you are into poetry, I think Mario Benedetti (from Uruguay) is a must.

Q: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming interpreter?

Get involved in the industry. Join professional organizations and be as active as you can. You can make some important connections that way, and more importantly, advocate for our profession to get the recognition it deserves, and for professional interpreters and translators to be valued and appreciated. I am part of at least one regional and one national organization, and they are very enriching experiences.

Q: How did you prepare for your certification exams? What was the most difficult? What are the differences between CCHI and NBCMI certification exams and preparation? Can you share resources that helped you prepare? 

There isn’t much we can share about the exams themselves (the content is confidential), but the single best resource, generally speaking, is the candidate handbook, which is available for both exams. I didn’t take any classes specifically to prepare, but I know there are some available. Both exams have a theoretical component: we have to study anatomy and physiology, and especially ethical principles and standards of practice. Both exams are heavy on ethical content.
But there is also a practical component, having to do with interpreting (and translation!) skills. You can study the protocols and procedures on a theoretical basis, but then you just have to PRACTICE. When it comes to skills, both exams require good consecutive interpreting skills, including note-taking. I practiced taking notes and interpreting while watching the news, or shows that I enjoyed. I even took notes while talking to my husband! It’s all about taking advantage of every opportunity: if you’re going to watch TV or talk to people anyway, you might as well use those situations to get better. I also used these opportunities to practice simultaneous interpreting, which constitutes one of the differences between these exams: so far, the NBCMI exam does not include a simultaneous interpreting component, while CCHI does. It is important to understand the differences between these two modes, and when to use each. Other than that, my preparation was rather similar, as the exams have more similarities than they have differences.

Q: What do you do to develop your professional skills? Webinars, conferences? If the latter, which conferences do you prefer and why? 

I try to take advantage of every resource available. If I don’t find the topic engaging, I try to find something else to read or another webinar to watch. I have also been attending the conference held by the Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators (TAPIT) for several years, and I recommend it to anyone in the Southeast and beyond. I also like to attend big scale conferences like the IMIA or ATA Conferences, because they are generally an occasion where interpreters, healthcare providers, and agencies meet, so there are many perspectives to hear.  And of course I learn a lot from attending and organizing our conference with the Interpreters and Translators Association of Alabama!

Q: Is there anything you feel lacking in educational options out there? If you were to choose the topic for a new webinar or course, what would it be?

I think we don’t talk enough about quality control or quality assurance for interpreters. The topic is raised for translation, but not for interpreters, and it is quite complex, as it is not easy to measure, and it is not only in the results, which are typically not durable. In case of translation, you have a document to review. When we interpret, our words are gone as soon as they’re spoken, unless they’re recorded. It is necessary to talk to interpreters about how to monitor our own performance at all stages of the assignment.

Q: What would you like changed or improved in the industry?

There are many things I would like to see changed. I would like agencies to treat interpreters fairly (they don’t always do), I’d like interpreter rates to have a legal minimum established, although I know it’s unlikely to happen any time soon. I would also like certification (in any setting, for translators and interpreters) to be a requirement. The law is not clear enough about what “qualified” means, and that opens the door to many people without enough education to act as interpreters and translators.

Q: What is the most important to be successful as an interpreter, in your opinion?

I think the most important thing is humility, in two senses. One is cultural humility. We have to be sensitive to cultural differences but we are not anthropologists. I don’t believe interpreters should try to “explain” other cultures, as within each cultural group there is also a great deal of individual variation. We can merely point out possible cultural differences, be aware of their existence, and help healthcare providers be sensitive to them.
We also need the humility to stick to our role as interpreters. We may have other ways in which we think we can help, often with the best intentions, but they are not part of our role. The main way we help LEP patients is by putting them on equal footing with English-speaking patients. We must monitor our will to intervene or put the spotlight on ourselves. Things go smooth when each party does what they’re trained to do, and nothing else.
You can find Maria on Twitter and LinkedIn

Happy Birthday to the Nation of Nations!








This 4th of July, we remember some quotes by famous Americans about our beautiful land of immigrants.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
―Emma Lazarus, writer and translator


“America has always been a symbol of hope, tolerance and diversity —and these are values we must work very hard to uphold”.

―Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani Yoghurt


“Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.”

―Tim Cook, CEO


“As you know, I’m an immigrant. I came over here as an immigrant, and what gave me the opportunities, what made me to be here today, is the open arms of Americans. I have been received. I have been adopted by America.”

―Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and politician


“Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.”
―John F. Kennedy


“I am the grandson of immigrants from Japan who went to America, boldly going to a strange new world, seeking new opportunities. My mother was born in Sacramento, California. My father was a San Franciscan. They met and married in Los Angeles, and I was born there.”

―George Takei, actor


“I arrived in the U.S.A. in 1935, to San Francisco. I got the boat from China, and I didn’t even speak English. I could read a little, perhaps write a little, but that was all. It was a 17-day journey, and I learnt to speak English from the stewards.”

―I. M. Pei, one of top America’s architects


“I call myself Zimerican. I was born in the Midwest to Zimbabwean parents. My father was a professor at Grinnell College in Iowa.”

―Danai Gurira, actress

“I came here to the US at age 6 with my family from the Soviet Union which was at that time the greatest enemy the US had, maybe it still is. It was a dire period, the cold war, as some people remember it. And even then the US had the courage to take me and my family in as refugees. This country was brave and welcoming and I wouldn’t be where I am today or have any kind of the life that I have today if this was not a brave country that really stood out and spoke for liberty.”

―Sergey Brin, founder of Google


“I came to America because of the great, great freedom which I heard existed in this country.”
―Albert Einstein


“I come from a part of New York that was almost entirely immigrants. I was born in America, but all of my friends’ parents, everybody’s parents, including my own, had come to America from Europe. ―Christopher Walken, actor


“I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.”

―George Washington


“I have an immigrant mentality, which is that the job can be taken away at any time, so make sure you earn it every day…immigrants come here they have no safety net-zero. I landed here with $500 in my pocket. I had no one here to pay for me.”

―Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo


“I liked the America of Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton – it was all a dream, of course, but a very alluring dream for a young man from China.”
―I. M. Pei, one of top America’s architects


“I was born in Europe… and I’ve traveled all over the world. I can tell you that there is no place, no country, that is more compassionate, more generous, more accepting, and more welcoming than the United States of America.”

―Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and politician


“My folks came to U.S. as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien.

―Leonard Nimoy, actor


“My mother was an activist, so was my father. They came from a generation of young Somalis who were actively involved in getting independence for Somalia in 1960. So I remember when I was five how busy our house was. People would come in the middle of the night, meetings after meetings, and protests and all that. I grew up in the midst of all of that. And she instilled that in me. The fact that nobody can take your self-worth unless you give your consent. I am the face of a refugee. I was once a refugee. I was with my family in exile.”

―Iman, fashion model


“One more thing I would say with regard to immigration generally: There exists on the subject a fatal miscomprehension. Unemployment is not decreased by restricting immigration. For unemployment depends on faulty distribution of work among those capable of work. Immigration increases consumption as much as it does demand on labor.”

―Albert Einstein


“On my father’s side, I’m descended from immigrants, one of whom was a Syrian refugee from the Armenian genocide, and my mother was an immigrant from Germany whose visa had expired and, for a year and change, was undocumented here in the U.S.

―Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit


“Our attitude towards immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal. We have always believed it possible for men and women who start at the bottom to rise as far as the talent and energy allow. Neither race nor place of birth should affect their chances.”
―Robert F. Kennedy


“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
―Franklin D. Roosevelt


“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources–because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.”
―Lyndon B. Johnson


“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights and previleges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.”
― George Washington


“The truth is, immigrants tend to be more American than people born here.”

―Chuck Palahniuk, writer


“To this day, my father worships JFK and LBJ for what they did to have the laws changed so that his family could come. I was 12 when I came, and I remember thinking it’s truly a different world. You know, you go from bicycles to cars, from shopping in the village market to supermarkets and from Chinese to English. We did not know the alphabet. So we started from step one, and it was a culture shock on top of a language barrier. We were each given an English name, hence — I’m David. And my father did it very simply, Dae He is D-A-E, and he just thought David was the closest thing. My training has been entirely American, while culturally I am a large part Chinese.”

―David Ho, scientist, heavily influenced the understanding, investigation and treatment of HIV/AIDS worldwide


“We came to America, either ourselves or in the persons of our ancestors, to better the ideals of men, to make them see finer things than they had seen before, to get rid of the things that divide and to make sure of the things that unite.”
―Woodrow Wilson


“We showed up here with the equivalent of $50 and a piano. We came halfway around the world without money, without a set job, no place to live and couldn’t even speak the language. What saved us was my father being a musician and slowly meeting other musicians and gigging on weekends, everything from weddings to you name it to make money.”

―Eddie Van Halen, one of the most well known hard rock musicians


“When [my family] came from England during the war, people said, “You are welcome here. What can we do to help?” I am a beneficiary of the American people’s generosity, and I hope we can have comprehensive immigration legislation that allows this country to continue to be enriched by those who were not born here.”
―Madeleine Albright


“When you get to know a lot of people, you make a great discovery. You find that no one group has a monopoly on looks, brains, goodness or anything else. It takes all the people – black and white, Catholic, Jewish and Protestant, recent immigrants and Mayflower descendants – to make up America.”

―Judy Garland


“You who are so-called illegal aliens must know that no human being is ‘illegal’. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?”

―Elie Wiesel, the writer, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor


Michigan Supreme Court: July 31, 2018, Court Interpreter Written English Exam

Notice from Michigan Supreme Court:

All uncertified interpreters are required to take and pass a written exam before they may take the oral proficiency exam. The 135 multiple-choice questions are designed to measure basic, general English language proficiency, and court and ethics knowledge. This helps to predict whether candidates are ready for the oral exam. Candidates for all languages take the written exam at the same time. At this time, there is no fee to take the written exam.

The next written exam will be given at the Hall of Justice in Lansing on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Approximately two weeks before the exam, you will receive your registration confirmation, the scheduled time of the written exam, and travel information and parking directions. This information will be sent to you by email.

The application deadline is June 29, 2018. Your application must be postmarked or faxed no later than June 29, and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The following links may be helpful in preparing for the exams:

Overview of the written exam, sample questions, and resources (exam registration form is found on page 19)

Code of Professional Conduct for Foreign Language Court Interpreters in Michigan Courts 

Links to videos that demonstrate interpreting and how to handle some situations (right side of page – Video Clips)

Michigan’s Courts Learning Center for information about the court system

National Center for State Courts (NCSC)

If you require special accommodation due to a disability, you must request the accommodation in advance. In order to do that, please contact Denice Purves at

Please note: No person will be allowed to take the same written exam version more than once within a

12-month period.

How to Overcome Test Anxiety: Tips for Interpreters

When interpreters prepare for interpreting exams, we practice interpreting. But what are we doing to practice controlling our test anxiety? As someone who’s taken many interpreting exams (and didn’t pass them all) and prepared many interpreters for exams, there are a few things I’ve learned about managing test anxiety. Test anxiety can affect your performance in an exam to the extent that you fail, so it’s worth considering.

Anxiety can come in the form of fear, no matter what the stakes may be. When I took my healthcare certification exam, as a seasoned healthcare interpreter I was sure I’d pass. But there was that lingering thought: What if I actually fail? What if I’m exposed as a fraud and I realize I’m not actually competent to do the work I’ve been doing for the last decade? When I took my court certification exam for the second time, I just wanted to get it over with and couldn’t bear the thought of failing again. When I took my grad school exit exams, the weight of knowing that I wouldn’t graduate if I didn’t pass felt physically crushing at times. Sound familiar? I’ve got some tips to get you through it.

Practice: When you sit down to do your interpreting practice, take the opportunity to practice your anxiety management as well. As much as possible, practice in a setting that is like the testing environment. Somewhere where you’re not too comfortable. In grad school, this was easy for me because I practiced in the interpreting lab, which was the very space I knew I’d be taking my exams. But in addition to the physical testing environment, I also made an effort to get into the mindset of exam day, and I’d go through all the things I might be feeling.

When I was preparing for my court and healthcare certification exam, I didn’t have the advantage of practicing in the actual physical space where I’d be taking the test. But you can do some things to emulate the environment, like sitting up straight at a table, timing yourself and recording yourself, making sure that you are doing your practice without stopping. That means no stopping and starting 30 seconds into the practice, five thousand times, whenever you feel you’ve messed up! Yes, practicing the same small part over and over can be a helpful part of practice, but your practice should include simulating the test, which means doing the interpretation from beginning to end in just one go.

Before you begin your practice, take a deep breath. Engage in something that works to calm yourself. Whatever it is, do it every day, every time you practice, well BEFORE the day of your exam. That way, when exam time comes, you’ll already have trained yourself to calm your nerves.

Noting things: Not taking actual notes, but just making mental notes to yourself about what’s happening when you feel anxious, in an objective way. I have a lot of trouble falling for that “hook” – that thought that yanks me into a downward spiral of panic. For example, when I start thinking “ohnothistestisimpossible and Idon’tthinkIcandoit and Ican’tdoanythingright and Ican’tcontrolmybreathing and nowmymouthisdryandmyheartisracing and everyonewillbedisappointedinmewhenIfail and they’reallgoingtolaughatme, I need a figurative hammer to smash that downward spiral. Simply stating in my mind what is happening does the trick for me. So instead of falling for that hook, I simply tell myself, “Now I’m taking a test.” That’s it. And it breaks that cycle so I can focus on the task at hand.

Self-compassion: Having a positive mantra can be helpful. When I’m trying to find some positive aspect of a difficult situation, mine has been, “I’m learning so much.” I use it a lot since I always seem to be learning so much, stumbling up some kind of steep learning curve. But self-compassion isn’t necessarily positive self-talk. Self-compassion is simply recognizing what you’re feeling in any given moment, and that it’s okay. When I feel my heart begin to race as I sit down in front of that mic, I can simply tell myself, “Right now I’m having a moment of anxiety.” This has been more helpful to me than resisting the anxiety, which seems to intensify it. Leave room for some positive self-talk, but also leave some room for, “This is really difficult,” and even, “I don’t know if I can do this.”

Practicing on the day of the exam: I’ve recommended in past posts to not practice the day of the exam, and that’s something that works for me. I don’t want anything undermining my confidence on exam day. On the other hand, I’ve heard other trainers recommend that you practice with something that is easy for you on exam day. Surely this is to boost your confidence. If that’s the case, I’d practice with something you know is easy for you because you’ve practiced with it before.

When I took my healthcare and court certification exams, I didn’t practice on exam day. When I took my exams for grad school, I did shadowing on my exams days (there were four), just to have the feel for listening and speaking at the same time. I also had the habit of shadowing every day before I began my practice, so that worked for me.

Practicing interpreting is a necessary part of what we do to get better. When we have the skills to confront our anxiety, we can overcome it on exam day.

By Liz Essary

This article first appeared on

IEO prepares interpreters for court certification exam, as well as NBCMI and CCHI certification exam.

How Public Speaking Skills can Help Interpreters

Besides being an interpreter and a translator for over 20 years, I have also taught public speaking courses and presented at interpreters’ symposiums and other professional meetings.

Speaking in public requires a high level of involvement with the subject matter and the preparation of the adequate delivery, depending on the objective and the occasion.

Communication facilitated by interpreters is a dynamic process, not a mechanic one.  Interpreters aim at transferring the “meaning.”  Since it occurs in a group context, the opportunity of a connection is automatically established.

Interpreters can greatly benefit from speech making skills and strategies on how to manage their nervousness in public.

As interpreters, we face many situations; we meet a variety of people with different backgrounds and understanding of the language exchange.  This may occur before the actual interpreting session and once assignments have been completed.  We represent an agency or ourselves.  Whether functioning as a medium of communication or as cultural brokers, we are in a position to enhance our professional image and degree of effectiveness through the acquisition of speech building skills.

Here are some of the skills interpreters can benefit from:

  1. Focusing on the purpose of the meeting – this step helps with staying on track
  2. Organizing the ideas/concepts in a logical manner
  3. Varying the tone and pace to keep the attention going
  4. Providing visuals, if necessary or helpful – this step strengthens the retention degree of the information.
  5. Interacting and involving others in the conversation – this step helps in making sure everyone is on the same page
  6. Complying with time limitations
  7. Displaying confidence by concentrating on our objective
  8. Communicating in an ethical manner – interpreters have a powerful profession and can, therefore, exercise an influence

This is a work in progress.  There is always something new to learn and abilities to refine.  Of course, there is also the element of nervousness that we want to get under control. These skills enhance the degree of credibility and a trust-developing connection.  The end result is a more gratifying experience for the interpreter and a lasting memory in the minds of the people encountered.

How can we reach a level of comfort? We can start by allowing a degree of tension that can energize us.  We can also draw inspiration from previous encounters. Experience makes us stronger.  By adopting a process of visualization, we can envision the encounter to be a gratifying learning opportunity.

Will my voice tremble? Will all eyes and ears heavily concentrate on me? What if I forget something? What if they ask me a challenging question? Most of us have heard one or more of these little voices inside our heads before walking into an unknown scenario.

There are also techniques we can adopt to decrease the level of tension:

  1. Write down your fears. Then, look back at the list and scratch out, one by one, the fears that will not likely produce a catastrophe or another terribly embarrassing moment.
  2. Mentally practice the answers to inquiries you can anticipate.
  3. Utilize relaxing techniques: prayer, breathing exercises, muscular or mental relaxation are some examples.
  4. Have on speed-dial someone who can give you a word of encouragement.
  5. Focus on the moment as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  6. Engage in opportunities to talk and share with other interpreters.  This is one of the most effective ways to realize we have similar concerns and that we can draw strength from one another.

I like the approach to nervousness that comes from cognitive therapy, which allows us to transform a negative thought into a positive and constructive one.

According to the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy (2009), cognitive therapy is a short-term form of remedy to treat a variety of psychological and psychiatric conditions.  We can identify distortions or perceptions resulting into negative thought patterns; then we can work on changing our gloomy thoughts into optimistic ones. Anderson (2014) points out that we can visualize the best part of the day, or encounter, and be thankful of the event.

How can I apply cognitive therapy to intimidating scenarios?  I build a mindset that allows me to focus on the positive side of the experience. I know I am capable to doing a good job and answer potential questions.  I continue to engage in opportunities for professional development; so I have acquired knowledge and confidence.  The encounter will go well.  I will research the areas I discover I know less about.  I will be even more prepared the next time around.

If you tend to be a perfectionist, and I will personally welcome you to the club, remember that we are the ones who tend to be more conscious of our movements and register correctness.  A less than perfect exchange is not the end of the world (I am not referring to the interpreting session per se, of course).  A slightly disappointing event can still help us put things in perspective and accept the frustrating moment as part of life, yet with a possibility of an even better outcome the time around.


By Rita Pavone

This blog first appeared on


Join our webinar on Public Speaking Skills for Interpreters by Rita Pavone on May 22.

If you can’t make it, the video recording will be available after.

Featured Interpreter: Robin Byers-Pierce, CSC, BEI IV, Court-Certified, VRI Manager at Bromberg

Q: How long have you been an interpreter and why/how did you get started in the field?

A: I started interpreting in 1975. For a simple reason: The Rehab Act of 1975 was passed requiring interpreters for certain situations, and the government realized they did not have many. A federal grant was given to several universities around the country to establish interpreter training programs. NITC, National Interpreter Training Consortium, was founded and offered scholarships to people who were interested in going into the field of interpreting. Pre-existing ASL skills were not required but preferred for the first few rounds of awards. I was accepted into the program and started school for the spring semester.

Q: What was your first interpreting job?

A: I have generally worked as a community interpreter. One of my first jobs was interpreters for a Skills Training Center that taught auto mechanics and carpentry skills.

Q: How do you prepare for assignments?

A: This depends on the job. For medical and legal, I review relevant terminology. Often we go in without any information, but I try to obtain as much as I can before the appointment. Agencies can often provide some background information.

Q: What was the funniest/most interesting experience on the job?

A: My favorite all time job was interpreting for Tommy Chong (Canadian American comedian). He made fun of me and made a prop of me plus had me teach the whole audience a bad word. Actually, he kept repeating it and instructed the audience to follow along. I was quite amused and entertained.

Q: What was the saddest experience on the job?

A: Hands down, interpreting for a mother in childbirth and the baby was stillborn.

Q: Who is your role model and why?

My two role models are Reuben Pois and Annette Long. From my grandfather, I learned how to sign, and his great sense of humor shaped me. My mother taught me so much. Her wisdom and kindness shaped me into who I am now. She also taught me how to be an interpreter, and for all of that, I cannot begin to express my thanks. I did send her a thank you card later in my life for my birthday every year for not killing me when I was a teenager. Her self-control was admirable.

Q: Which social media do you use, if any? If you do, what are your most favorite pages/accounts/groups to read?

A: I do use Facebook, but mostly it is a mode for me to contact colleagues and stay in touch with family and friends.

Q: What are your favorite movies/literature in or about ASL? Can you recommend something to our readers?

A: My favorite book is Seeing Voices by Dr. Oliver Sacks. The book is divided into two sections, and for anyone working with the Deaf community, the first part of the book is a must. Although there are many newer studies, The Signs of Language by Edward Klima and Ursula Bellugi are still my favorites.

Q: Which stereotype about Deaf culture would you like to eliminate? What are your favorite things about Deaf culture or ASL language?

A: I would eliminate the stereotype that all people with hearing are the same. Just as with the general community, there are nice people and not so nice people.

I love the visual-spatial nature of the language. An event can be relayed with clarity in ASL that no spoken language can convey.

Q: What advice would you give to an up and coming interpreter?

A: Knowing the community you serve is primary. Don’t expect to save the world – you are “The Equalizer”, you make the world the same for hearing people or English speakers as it is for Deaf people or non-English speakers.

Q: How did you prepare for your certification exam? What was the most difficult? Can you share resources that helped you?

A: RID and the BEI offer materials to study. I highly suggest interpreters obtain and know the material. The Code of Ethics and the Canons of Ethical Behavior of all fields are similar, and knowing the correct ethical decision is crucial.

Practice interpreting television and radio. Professional speakers are trained to be clear and very fast. If you are comfortable with this rapid pace, when you go in for your test – it will seem slow.

Q: What do you do to develop your professional skills? Webinars, conferences? If the latter, which conferences do you prefer and why?

A: I consider myself a learn-a-holic. I am always seeking ways to enhance my interpreting skills which include adding vocabulary and an understanding of a variety of fields. All of the above is how I do professional development.

Q: Is there anything you feel lacking in educational options out there? If you were to choose the topic for a new webinar or course, what would it be?

A: One thing I like about the IEO and the webinar series is that they are for interpreters who already have the basic knowledge. Conferences are so often providing training for those at an entry level that it is hard to find something of interest to us vets.

Q: What would you like changed or improved in the industry?

A: I love the field that I have chosen. Though I love road trips, the daily grind of 100-500 miles a day was tedious and environmentally unsound. VRI solved this problem, and as the platforms improve their stability, it gets better every day.

Q: What is the most important to be successful as an interpreter, in your opinion?

A: Be thick-skinned. People will take their frustrations out on you. Know the difference between critique, which will help make you better, and someone who is taking their frustration out on you. Learn something every place you go.


Robin on LinkedIn.

Featured interpreter: Karla R. (Shetter) Grathler, CMI – Spanish, Farmworker Health Program Coordinator at Shawnee Health Service

8-hour long interpreting for labor had me as exhausted as future mom to be

Q: How long have you been an interpreter and why/how did you get started in the field?

A: I have been an interpreter in the U.S since 2007. I started in the field when a local language services agency was hiring medical interpreters.

Q: What was your first interpreting job?

A: My first interpreting job was our local hospital in Carbondale, IL

Q: What would you like changed or improved in the industry?

A: Better hourly rates for full-time medical interpreters. It seems like the high pay rates are mostly for freelance interpreters in big cities. To require National Certification to perform as Medical Interpreters. I see many bilingual individual who perform either as freelancer or as part of the interpreters’ staff who have not even taken the minimum 40-hr training. To me, this poses a legal danger for organizations and may cause more harm than benefits to the patients due to the risk of miscommunication leading to misdiagnosis and wrong medical treatment.

Q: What was the funniest/most interesting experience on the job?

A: Funniest: At the end of a very long and stressful day, I was interpreting for a medical visit and instead of interpreting into the opposite language, I was repeating what the patient said in Spanish and what the doctor said in English. Both of them looked at me puzzled and then we all started to laugh. I deeply apologized and brought my brain back to the right!!

Interpreting for a delivery: Interpreting for a pregnant patient who was in labor during my whole shift. I ended up as exhausted as the brave mom-to-be. It was exhausting to interpret statements conveying feelings of pain and discomfort for 8 hours straight.

Q: What was the saddest experience on the job?

A: To interpret for when a doctor had to give tragic news to a mom. Her baby did not make after a horrible car accident.

Q: How do you prepare for assignments?

A: I try to have a good night sleep as much as I can. I keep myself hydrated during the day. Learn about the reason for the medical visit and review possible terminology.

Q: Which social media do you use, if any? If you do, what are your most favorite pages/accounts/groups to read?

A: I use LinkedIn. I think it is good way to network with other professionals. I am a member of the IMIA as well. I love the articles posted on the IEO site. I share most of the articles with my interpreter staff at our monthly meetings.

Q: What are your favorite movies/literature in your native language? Can you recommend something to our readers?

A: I am reading “El Filtro Burbuja: Cómo la Red decide lo que leemos y lo que pensamos”. Escrito por Eli Pariser. Very interesting narration and viewpoint of how media feeds the people exactly what they (the people) want to hear. The way we are exposed to information, news etc. is mostly according to our likes and preferences. We tend to limit ourselves nowadays and we are not opened to go beyond our likes and preferences.

Q: What advice would you give to an up and coming interpreter?

A: I would advise anyone who wants to become an interpreter to expose him/herself to different cultures related to the language pair he/she will be interpreting in. It is important to be fluent in the used languages, but also to be familiar and understand the cultural differences. Another important advice would be to build a terminology list of colloquial terms in both languages, this way when speakers utilize those kind of terms, the interpreter will be ready to convey accurate interpretation and perform his/her conduit role fully.

Q: Which stereotype about your native culture would you like to eliminate? What are your favorite things about your native culture or language?

A: I am originally from Lima, Peru. Something I have been asked before is if Peruvians have seen tall buildings, if we use technology, do we have cars, other than llamas, LOL!! I explain that Peru as many other countries has both rural and urban areas. I tell them llamas are mostly in the highland and they are used as pack animals and for their wool.

My favorite thing is the beauty of our geography in the three main regions. The coastal region bounded by the Pacific Ocean, the highlands located in the Andean heights and the Amazon Jungle. And I love my Spanish language. It sounds so beautiful to me. If you asks people from other South American countries, they would say that Peruvians speak like if they are singing.

Q: Who is your role model and why?

A: My role model is my mom for sure. A woman who did not have the opportunity to even finish middle school but when she became a mom she sacrificed everything she had to create opportunities for her daughters. All of us have college degrees and each of us are contributing to our communities in different ways. I feel that is the legacy my mom wanted to leave for us.

Q: What do you do to develop your professional skills? Webinars, conferences? If the latter, which conferences do you prefer and why?

A: I am constantly reviewing my medical terminology. I make sure I write down and find the correct equivalent in the target language to be prepared for the next time I come across the terminology. I attend as many webinars as I can. I maintain contact with other interpreters through IMIA and

Q: Is there anything you feel lacking in educational options out there? If you were to choose the topic for a new webinar or course, what would it be?

A: More medical interpreting education on mental health. Interpreting for counseling scenarios to me is a different ball game. The interpreter is constantly interpreting messages that convey feelings and emotions for almost an hour non-stop. I wish there were more resources to help prepare for interpreting situations like those.

Q: How did you prepare for the certification exam? What was the most difficult? Can you share resources that helped you?

A: I studied as much medical terminology as I could. I had someone reading 3 to 4 sentence statements out loud for me and then I would interpret.

I also recorded statements in both English and Spanish, then I played those so I could interpret.

Resources I used were: Medline Plus,, IMIA, a voice recorder.

Q: What is the most important to be successful as an interpreter, in your opinion?

A: The most important is to love what you do. To have a heart for service. We have such a big responsibility to make sure what the two parties that speak different languages are communicating with accuracy and completeness, so the outcome they are looking for is positive and effective.


Featured Interpreter: Caroline Croskery, English/Farsi

“Interpreter! INTERPRET!!!” he shouted

With this interview we are starting a new rubric Featured Interpreter. The goal of it is to advocate the importance of our profession, share useful tips and experiences and highlight some of the best professionals in the field.

Caroline Croskery has been speaking Persian for many years. She was born in the United States and moved to Iran at the age of twenty-one. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Iranian Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she graduated Cum Laude. For many years, she has been active in four fields of specialization: language teaching, translation, interpretation and voice-over acting.

During her thirteen years living in Iran, she taught English, translated, and dubbed Iranian feature films into English. After returning to live in the United States, she began a career as a court interpreter in 1998 and is currently a Missouri State Registered Farsi court and medical interpreter.

Q: Caroline, how long have you been an interpreter and why/how did you get started in the field?

A: I began as a court interpreter for LA County Superior Courts in 1998 after becoming a State of California Registered Farsi Interpreter through the Judicial Council of California. In 2016 I became a Missouri State Registered Farsi Interpreter. I am a court interpreter, a medical interpreter, as well as a literary translator. I translate bestselling novels from Persian (Farsi) into English and have thirteen books on Amazon.

Q: What was your first interpreting job?

A: My first day on the job is a day I remember well. I had taken a language exam and gone through an orientation that dealt with ethics and overall dos and don’ts of interpreting in the courtroom. But I arrived on the job with no actual experience. I remember not being sure about what to do.

The court proceedings began and I was standing there next to the defendant waiting for something to happen. I guess I thought that things would stop and I would have the opportunity to consecutively interpret what had been said.

Then the judge shouted something that jolted me into action like a race-horse out of the gate.

“Interpreter! INTERPRET!!!” he shouted. And I was off! My career in simultaneous court interpreting began with a jolt!

Q: What was the funniest/most interesting experience on the job?

A: I was called to interpret for senior citizen who was a serial jay-walker. This time, she was certain that she was going to be put away for life. She was so frightened of the judge that it was all I could do to assuage her fears and assure her that the judge would deal with her fairly. I informed her that talking to the judge was her only good option. She finally gulped down her reticence and together, we walked into the courtroom.

The judge knew this lady. He had seen her there many times before. This time, his tactic was to perform a little drama and hopefully scare her out of repeat offending!

Putting on very serious airs, the judge announced in a deep, scary voice, “You’re back! I see that you have violated the law again.”

“Yes, sir,” she answered, shaking with suspense.

Drawing out the weighty words, the judge interrogated her, “And what did you do?”

Bypassing the interpreter, she blurted out her confession, “Johnny Walker! Johnny Walker!”

Everybody in the courtroom smiled. The judge talked with her in length about the danger she was creating, not only primarily for herself, but for the oncoming cars and traffic as well. She was fined, and hopefully learned her lesson.

Q: What was the saddest experience on the job?

A: Most certainly the saddest experience I have ever had on the job was a case involving both murder and grave mental illness. The saddest part for me, is knowing that this might have been avoided if the perpetrator had been under psychiatric care to begin with.

Q: What would you like changed or improved in the industry?

A: Two things come to mind. New interpreters need mentoring, as I did. Perhaps a requirement for new interpreters to spend 20 hours in an actual courtroom before their first day on the job. They could be given an on the job orientation packet to accomplish, to acquaint them with various courtroom roles and procedures. Necessary forms could be translated for court use, which would also acquaint them with the specific vocabulary used in that courtroom.

Secondly, I believe that ALL interpreters should have state qualification in order to enter the job force. We have too many people entering the field of interpreting who are not qualified and cannot pass the state exams.

Q: How do you prepare for assignments?

A: Simultaneous interpreting involves levels of skills. Knowing two languages at native level is not sufficient to be a good interpreter. The other skill is a more mechanical skill: the ability to listen while speaking. A simultaneous interpreter must listen at the same time he or she is speaking.

To warm up before an assignment, while driving in the car, I switch on an English talk radio station. English is my mother tongue. I practice simply repeating aloud, the exact words I hear on the radio. I do this for about fifteen minutes. Then I switch to a Farsi talk radio station. I do the same thing. Then I begin interpreting what I hear in Farsi, into English. Finally, I switch back to the English talk radio station, and interpret what I hear in English, into Farsi.

The mechanical aspect of listening to language while speaking gets more and more automatic the more you practice. But there is still a third element, and that is the supervisory role the brain must have over this whole mechanical procedure, so that you are listening not only for the words and sentences, but that you are also hearing what is being said – you are comprehending what is being said. An alarm can go off in your mind when something goes awry, something doesn’t make sense, etc.

Q: Are you certified? If yes, how did you prepare for the exam? What was the most difficult? Can you share resources that helped you?

A: There is currently no “certification” for the Farsi language, although I was tested in both English and Farsi in order to become what they call State “Registered” Farsi Interpreter. The written exam was in English. But I had oral examinations in both English and Farsi.

One preparation resource that I enjoy greatly is called The Interpreter’s Gym by Steven Sanford of Boston, MA. This is a free tool that you can find on Sound Cloud.

Q: What is the most important to be successful as an interpreter, in your opinion?

A: It is most important to be conscientious, diligent and have a good attitude for success as an interpreter. An interpreter must have boundless energy, a sharp mind and a caring heart. An interpreter has no ego; the interpreter isn’t a character in this movie at all. The interpreter is a facilitator of communication for parties that would otherwise not be able to communicate. An interpreter can never pass judgement into the work. Whatever fly might fall into the ointment, an interpreter’s job is to bring the issue to the attention of the judge for the judge to decide. An interpreter must love language to the point of never allowing a day to go by without learning something new.

You can contact Caroline via email


Types of People You’ll Meet at Interpreters & Translators Conferences and How to Network with Them

Updated on 10/17/19

One of our favorite things about attending a conference is to meet fellow linguists. They come from all over the globe, speak many different languages, and have unique personalities. Their reasons for being at the conference vary as well.

Check out the list below of the different types of attendees you may encounter at a conference. Have you met/can you relate to any of them?

1) The Professional

Business Working GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Nobody knows conferences better than the professional interpreter and translator. After all, they’ve been going to conferences for years. They may even be a part of a committee or two. A conference not only allows them to satisfy their continuing education requirements, but they’ll also be able to catch up with colleagues and friends and get updated on the industry.

How to: Talk about the industry innovations, or ask them about some tips for certification exams.

2) The Social Butterfly

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What better way to put your charisma on display than at a conference full of people? The social butterfly knows this better than anyone. They’re a networking machine with a gregarious personality that helps them make contacts, acquire leads, and close deals. Warm and friendly, the social butterfly makes great impression and is hard to forget. They are the ultimate schmoozer.

How to: Networking with them is easy. Just catch their glance, smile, and enjoy, as the social butterfly will initiate introductions and communication. Unless they are stopped on the way to you by admirers and multiple buddies.

3) The Learner

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Conferences are an information sponge’s dream, and rightfully so! With so many presentations on a wide range of topics, there is plenty to learn. You’ll be able to spot the learner quite easily. Running from session to session so as not to be late for one, the learner can be seen holding coffee in one hand and a smartphone, notebook, and pen in the other. The learner is a note-taking pro and is never afraid to ask questions.

How to: Ask them what they think about the workshop you both attended. You are likely learn something new from them!

4) The Networking Introvert 

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If it was up to them, they’d have stayed at home with their cat. But don’t let this mislead you. They knew fully well what they are getting into, and they would love to connect and chat with you, but are somewhat dreading to start. Especially, if they are new to the event or the industry. Everyone looks like they know each other; everything seems connected and buzzing with joy of recognition. The horror!

How to: Even if they seem disengaged, or occupied browsing their phone, don’t hesitate to approach them with a friendly introduction. A simple “Hi! My name is (_________), nice to meet you! Is this your first time at the (name of the conference)?” will do the trick. Introverts are often full of useful info and great professional expertise.

5) The Educator

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You can see them running a session or simply mingling with peers. They usually look very distinguished and confident, as this is most likely a hundredth conference they’ve been to, and they trained many of its attendees and speakers. At one of the previous ATA events we had an honor of dining with a veteran translator who had attended some of the first ATA conferences, and the chat was so interesting that it became the highlight of the conference for us. Whether they present at this conference or not, educators are a great source of knowledge and fun stories.

How to: Look sharp and ask many questions.

6) The Presenter

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A presenter might look confident, but no one is immune to stage fright, be they new or seasoned speakers. Especially at such major conferences as the annual ATA gig.

How to: Make the presenter’s day by telling them how interesting their speech was, and what you liked about it specifically.

7) The Exhibitor

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Sitting in a booth all day can get lonely. Not everyone knows that, but exhibitors are more than happy to greet anyone approaching their booth with a curious gaze and/or questions.

How to: Stop by even if you are only interested in a sugary pick-me-up or yet another stress ball. The goal is to have all the swag gone by the end of the conference anyway. The exhibitors are the only attendees here who have to work non-stop. Show them some love by asking about their job and exchanging business cards to connect on LinkedIn. Who knows, it might become some of your best connections at the conference.

8) The Businessperson

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When going to a conference, the goal of the businessperson is simple: to make money. This can be achieved a few ways. They can interact with people whom they can pitch and sell their product to. As a freelancer, they can pass along their resume or business cards. The businessperson can also use conferences as an opportunity to establish partnerships and relationships with other business people.

How to: Ask what they like most about their job. Business people love talking about their business.

9) The Intelligence Operative

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Conferences bring all types of language companies together under one roof. Whether they’re selling services, training programs, or software, it’s inevitable that representatives from these companies will be checking out their competition. These intelligence operatives will gather information, even posing as potential customers, by asking questions and collecting a rival’s marketing materials.

How to: Ask if they know of any job openings for a professional linguist.

This year Interpreter Education Online again will be exhibiting at the main national event for translators and interpreters, American Translators Association (ATA) 60th Annual Conference. We look forward to connecting with over 1,400 translation and interpreting professionals from throughout the U.S. and around the world, and seeing our old friends. Find IEO booth #3 and ask us about the conference discount we offer on all our courses!
If you are missing the event this year, follow the workshops and get connected with participants by using #ata60 on Twitter.

What is happening to my brain?

I can remember how to say “Compass Rose” and “boatswain” in Spanish at the drop of a hat, but I cannot remember what I ate for lunch 2 days ago.

I can recall every word of a 2-minute narrative by a witness and render it fully into English, but I cannot recall what someone said to me (or what I said to someone) a week ago.

Because I am an interpreter!

Well, I am no neuroscientist or neuro-anything, but it doesn’t take much to realize my brain—and, by extension, my memory—does not work like most other people’s brains. Why? Because I am an interpreter. It’s that simple. I have been using my brain in ways that people who are not interpreters will never use theirs.

Scholarly articles on the bilingual brain are fascinating. In fact, they make me wonder how we can ever do what we do. One such researcher, Narly Golestani, from the Brain and Language Lab at the University of Geneva, has mapped the brain of interpreters during simultaneous renditions using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRIs), confirming what most of us already know intuitively: “Simultaneous interpretation is an extremely demanding task that requires exquisite control of the language system in order to comprehend and produce speech concurrently in two different languages.”[1] This, of course, can be said of consecutive interpreting, although the concurrency of the process is somewhat different inasmuch as we must be perceiving or understanding the message in one language, retaining that information while converting it to another language, and within seconds be producing the converted message.

Beyond language

Golestani told Geoff Watts, a former biomedical researcher-now-journalist, during a visit he made to the Geneva lab: “There’s been a lot of work on bilingualism. Interpretation goes one step beyond that because the two languages are active simultaneously. And not just in one modality, because you have perception and production at the same time. So the brain regions involved go to an extremely high level, beyond language.”[2]

But why do I remember some things so well, and forget others so easily? Well, neurological research has found that we store information in two different parts of the brain. “It appears the hippocampus provides temporary storage for new information whereas other areas [of the brain] may handle long-term memory. Events that we are later able to remember appear to be channeled for more permanent storage in the cortex (the outer layers of the brain responsible for higher functions such as planning and problem-solving.)”[3] Could it be that I have nurtured my brain’s cortex more than my brain’s hippocampus, so I can store all that vocabulary and other linguistic data I need to perform my job as an interpreter?

Rapid and short-lived or slower and long lasting?

Susumu Tonegawa from the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics in Japan has conducted research that “points to the existence of complementary memory systems. One allows rapid memory formation but has limited capacity, and thus needs to pass information that should be retained to another system that is longer-lasting but slower-acting. This frees space in the hippocampus that can then be reused.”[4] And there you have it! My memory’s storage capacity is not unlimited.

“Psychological studies of human memory make a distinction between Short-Term Memory (STM) and Long-Term Memory (LTM). The idea of short-term memory simply means that you are retaining information for a short period of time without creating the neural mechanisms for later recall. Long-Term Memory occurs when you have created neural pathways for storing ideas and information which can then be recalled weeks, months, or even years later. To create these pathways, you must make a deliberate attempt to encode the information in the way you intend to recall it later. Long-term memory is a learning process. And it is essentially an important part of the interpreter’s acquisition of knowledge, because information stored in LTM may last for minutes to weeks, months, or even an entire life.”[5]

Because we are interpreters!

I always say that if I do not need to remember something in order to do a better job as an interpreter, I won’t. I really don’t need to clutter my brain’s cortex with useless memories, like what I had for lunch 2 days ago. Well, maybe it’s not that simple, but as an interpreter, I know for a fact I need a lot more language-processing information in my long-term memory than people who are not interpreters, so I will purposely let any trivial recollections fade away from the short-term memory in my hippocampus.

So if anything like this is happening to you, don’t worry. We are not absent-minded. We’re interpreters!

[1] Narly Golestani, Barbara Moser-Mercer, Alexis Hervais-Adelman, et al. Brain plasticity in interpreters.

[2] Geoff Watts. The amazing brains of the real-time interpreters.
[3] Simon Makin. Where does the brain store long-ago memories?
[4] Ibid.
[5] Weihe Zhong. Memory Training in Interpreting.


By Janis Palma, federally certified English<>Spanish judiciary interpreter
This article first appeared on

Online vs. Onsite interpreter education: Finding the right path for you

We see this question quite often. It’s not easy to find the right option, especially if you’re preparing for a complex certification exam and need to select the best possible training out there. As practicing interpreters, we know exactly how hard it is to allocate time for classroom training, which requires commute. As Michiganders, we also know how tricky getting to class can be during snowstorm season or heavy rains.

But apart from these obvious perks of online education (and ‘e-learning’ being a trendy buzzword), there’s a more scientific proof of online training benefits, too.

According to the 93-page research report from the U.S. Department of Education, students in online training perform better than those receiving onsite instructions. For 12 years researchers studied online and classroom performance for the same continuing education courses, for topics ranging from healthcare to the military. On average, online students would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, with classroom students scoring in the 50th percentile. That’s a significant difference for a court or medical interpreter certification test.

Barbara Means, an educational psychologist and the lead author of the report, said that the study’s major significance lies in demonstrating that “online learning today is not just better than nothing — it actually tends to be better than conventional instruction.”

Since 2009-2010, when this research was published, online education has developed dramatically, offering even more material, interactive features, collaboration tools and value.

Let’s analyze the pros and cons of each arrangement to see which option suits you best:


With classroom interpreter training costing a steep average of $10,000, online courses provide a significant relief to your budget, varying in cost from $169 for a single-topic course to $2,200 for the most comprehensive and extensive training programs. E-Learning also eliminates the cost of travel.


It’s always useful to preview courses before paying. We offer virtual tours during which our Course Administrator demonstrates the courses’ content and answers any questions.


When you have a full-time job and a family to take care of, there will inevitably be times when you have to skip a class. Studying online, you can complete courses at your own pace, whenever and wherever it’s convenient.

IEO courses are easily accessible from iPads and iPhones, allowing you to study anywhere, for example, during breaks between your court assignments. With an average CE single-topic course requiring approximately 6 or 8 hours of your time over the course of 2 weeks, it’s perfectly possible to fit your studies into even the tightest schedules. With so many choices for continuing education, interpreters don’t have to put their assignments on hold to stay current in their field.

Personalized approach

According to experts, online education provides learning experiences that are more tailored to individual students than is possible in classrooms. If a student has mastered some of the content already, they can skip over that part instead of getting bored in the classroom. Furthermore, with a teacher available through Skype, email and other platforms, students can ask questions and receive individual help any time they need it.


While students have more chances for face-to-face discussion with an instructor onsite, e-Learning students can access the materials when it suits them, which creates a more positive engagement.


In traditional classes, students must often wait to practice their skills until they complete the homework. The interactive nature of online learning allows students to apply their new knowledge immediately to complete tasks.


In a classroom setting, you always run the risk of falling into a passive learning slump, where you simply accept all of the information coming your way without seriously engaging. That said, with the right teacher and fellow students, the dialogue that exists in a classroom setting can help you stay engaged and retain more knowledge.

On the other hand, online courses require their own set of skills for maintaining focus, like finding a way to detach from your daily routine and really concentrate on your studies.


Onsite wins this one, with some people choosing classroom learning for the chance to network with their peers and develop soft skills unrelated to the curriculum.

Although online education doesn’t offer you the sense of community or multi-sensory experience you get in a classroom setting, IEO invites you to socialize with colleagues and trainers by joining the conversation on our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages. You can also participate in our Twitter Terminology contest for a chance to win a discounted course or a free webinar.


For most people, discipline is the main factor when deciding between classroom and online learning. Just like how the trendy work practice of telecommuting is not for everyone, online education requires a stronger will, goal-orientation, and ability to focus.

We hope this information will make it easier for you to make the right decision according to your personal goals and preferences, and we wish you best of luck on your career path. If you still have any questions, we would be more than happy to answer them!


Elena Kirillova,

Special for Interpreter Education Online

Medical Spring and Legal Summer

Are you happy that winter is almost over and spring is around the corner? If you are organizing a list of things to do, like spring cleaning or working out to get the beach body, do not forget to add getting your CEUs to the list. And we have something to help you: this year IEO offers medical spring and legal summer of webinars. You can choose either of the packages for a discounted price of $65 or sign up for both! To learn more about our webinars, click here.

Medical Spring (expired)

March 7: Choosing the Right Path: Advanced Ethical Decision-Making for Interpreters by Manuel Higgenbotham

April 4: Five National Language Service Quality Measures by Izabel Souza

May 9: The Interpreter’s Elusive Quest to Maintain Register by Natalya Mytareva

Legal Summer (expired)

June 6: Vocabulary-Building Resources and Techniques for Court Interpreters by Ernest Niño-Murcia

July 11: An International Perspective – Family Law Terminology for Translators by Suzanne Deliscar

August 22: Immigration 101: An Interpreter’s Perspective by Francesca Samuel

To purchase separately, or learn about CEUs offered, click here. 

Top 7 Interpreter Education Online Blogs of 2016

Dear fellow Interpreters,

Thank you for your feedback, and constant support. In 2016, you were most interested in video remote interpreting, certificates for continuing education and certification, vicarious trauma, finding your niche, and webinars. Here is the list of the blogs that you considered most useful in 2016 (click on the title to read the article):

1. Rejuvenate Your Career!

It is an all too common feeling – you’ve worked hard to get where you are in your career and then, suddenly, it starts to feel a bit routine. So how do you revive both your career and your enthusiasm? There are many easy ways to accomplish a sense of job rejuvenation.

2. Do You Have a Niche?

In any profession, there is typically extensive training and a process for learning information and applying it. But what happens once you have completed the training and are a working professional with experience? Continuing education is something we have talked about before and will always rally for, but is there something else you could be doing to improve your client base and expand your market appeal?

3. The New Health Epidemic

You won’t hear about this on the news. You aren’t likely to encounter it on social media either. The epidemic sweeping the nation isn’t a new virus, or a rare re-surfacing of an old one. It is, quite simply, stress. That’s right, The World Health Organization has deemed stress the “health epidemic of the 21st century.” While work-life balance has always been a struggle, it has become increasingly necessary and yet nearly impossible to accomplish.

4. The Value of Webinars

It’s no secret that webinars have been a growing trend in every industry for a while now. Attending a live seminar or conference is obviously beneficial, as is taking an online training course. But a webinar speaks to the heart of our fast-paced and steadily increasing business world’s main need: “get it done now, and move on to the next task.”

5. Certificate vs. Certification for Interpreters: What’s the Difference? part 1

Being bilingual does not automatically indicate or equal the ability to interpret. Just as the needed skill sets for interpreting as compared to translating are remarkably different, a similar case can be made for bilingualism not being a sufficient guarantee of competency for one to work as an interpreter. This is particularly true for Heritage speakers.

6. Interpreting in Immigration Settings: Be prepared, don’t be swayed

When working on an immigration case, the last thing attorneys want to worry about is an interpreter who is not competent or professional. We asked an immigration attorney Leonid Garbuzov for his input on what makes a great immigration interpreter.

7. Q&A with Eliana Lobo on VRI interpreting

Q: What are some of the difficulties commonly faced by remote interpreters?

A: Challenges for the interpreter include managing the flow, enforcing the use of the pre-session (providers may already be mid-task or mid-conversation when the video connection brings up the image). Often, this leads to their wanting to have the interpreter jump in mid-sentence. The challenge is finding a way to enforce the use of the pre-session and have it be viewed as part of your customer service rather than insisting on having things proceed according to the interpreter’s wishes. Confirming language preference, confidentiality and the patient and provider name are all steps that are part of the pre-session, which leads to greater patient satisfaction. Finding your voice and having professional scripts to use in your delivery helps.

We love to hear from you! Help us provide you with more useful and relevant info in 2017, or simply share your experience:

Happy New Year! 

Q&A with Eliana Lobo on VRI interpreting

Q: What are some of the difficulties commonly faced by remote interpreters?Eliana Lobo Headshot

A: Challenges for the interpreter include managing the flow, enforcing the use of the pre-session (providers may already be mid-task or mid-conversation when the video connection brings up the image). Often, this leads to their wanting to have the interpreter jump in mid-sentence. The challenge is finding a way to enforce the use of the pre-session and have it be viewed as part of your customer service rather than insisting on having things proceed according to the interpreter’s wishes. Confirming language preference, confidentiality and the patient and provider name are all steps that are part of the Pre-Session, which leads to greater patient satisfaction. Finding your voice and having professional scripts to use it in your delivery helps.

Q: What are the differences between remote video interpreting for healthcare and remote video conference interpreting?

A: For healthcare, interpreting is meant to facilitate understanding and trust between parties. In a conference situation, accuracy and speed are the prized elements. Also, you will have a partner in the booth with you for conference interpreting, but not when you interpret in a hospital or clinic. Again, being able to manage the flow to insure accuracy and understanding are key elements for the healthcare interpreter.

Q:  How long does an average interpreting call last?

A: There is no average length of call, just like there is no average patient. Call can last as little as a couple of minute, because the onsite interpreter arrives and takes over, and they can last for several hours, depending on the nature of the encounter.

Q: How will VRI impact the profession in the coming years?

A: VRI is the fastest growing market segment for healthcare interpreting. Other sub-specialties in the interpreting world are also using VRI in growing numbers (court, social services, schools and conference centers). For interpreters working onsite, their work will become more challenging as the simpler requests will increasingly be shunted to the phone or video, leaving the difficult and challenging assignments to fill an increasingly larger proportion of the onsite interpreter’s daily schedule.

Q: Interpreting is interpreting, so why would it be important for a medical or legal interpreter to take a course on VRI or attend a webinar on the same topic?

A: The short answer is to improve one’s knowledge and therefore, competence. The longer answer lies in whether you consider yourself to be a professional interpreter or not. All professions require certification and continuing education. Doctors, nurses, teachers and lawyers, are all required to get certified and maintain their certifications by pursuing continuing education and working the minimum hours per year to keep their skill set and certifications in good order. Are you certified, or qualified nationally as a healthcare interpreter? Are you certified, or registered by your state’s Administrative Office of the Courts as a court interpreter? If so, you should be pursuing continuing education to maintain your credentials.

Did you know the video remote interpreting is the fastest growing segment within language services? Do you want to stay viable and well trained in best practice for the new employment opportunities? Then getting trained in new technologies is a great way to achieve your goals.

Click here to register for the webinar on What you Need to Succeed as a Remote Interpreter, presented by Eliana 

Interpreting in Immigration Settings: Be prepared, don’t be swayed

When working on an immigration case, the last thing attorneys want to worry about is an interpreter who is not competent or professional. We asked an immigration attorney Leonid Garbuzov for his input on what makes a great immigration interpreter. Below are some of his suggestions about what attorneys and judges expect from the interpreter.passport-315266_1280

  1. Be Prepared

Nothing is worse than an interpreter that comes unprepared. Always bring a pen, paper and a legal dictionary.  Brush up on your legal terminology.  Don’t be late and don’t schedule other assignments for the same morning or afternoon as your immigration hearing, as you never know how long you will be there.

      2. Learn Your Terminology but Don’t Be a Know-It-All

While you should not expect the attorney, immigration officer, or the judge to explain legal terminology, you have to be sure that you understand the subject matter.  One illustrative example from my experience was an interpreter who mistranslated a question about an immigrant’s potential ties with “guerrilla organizations”, and asked whether he ever belonged to a “gorilla organization”.  When in doubt, it is better to ask.  If you realize that a mistake has occurred, you have to notify the judge, hearing officer, or the attorney immediately, and explain and correct the mistake.

      3. Do Not Add or Take Away From What’s Being Said

Another mistake is when an interpreter tries to add personal comments in order to make the subject matter easier to understand.  While the hearing officer, the client, or the attorney may not always be clear, it is not the interpreter’s job to “second-guess” and help them.  In one instance, when a client of mine with a serious mental impairment could not respond to an immigration officer’s questions, the interpreter tried to tell him that he was answering incorrectly, and even attempted to suggest what the correct answer should be.  Such conduct by an interpreter is never appropriate.

       4. Be Confident

Finally, it is important to not get riled up and to keep a professional demeanor.  This is especially important when an attorney—particularly the one who speaks the same language as the client – decides to challenge the accuracy of your translation.  It is important to know that these challenges are not uncommon and that they do not necessarily mean that an interpreter made a mistake or a misstatement.  An interpreter must remain undeterred by these tactics, must keep his/her voice clear, and must continue to interpret to the best of his/her ability without being swayed by these challenges.    

By Leonid Garbuzov of Garbuzov Law Firm, PLLC, special for IEO

IEO offers a comprehensive course developed by professional immigration interpreters and immigration attorneys. Immigration interpreting presents unique sets of challenges and requirements, so it’s essential for any interpreter to learn the protocol and legal concepts to understand and succeed in this field.    

Deaf Awareness Week

love-683926_1920Today, we celebrate the start of International Week of the Deaf 2016. An initiative that launched in 1958 in Rome, Italy by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). Since then it has been celebrated annually by the Deaf community all over the globe.

Last week of September of each year sees a highly concerted move towards global advocacy and awareness. WFD aims to spread its message as widely as possible to ensure that its campaign is noticed through media coverage.

In honor of the Deaf Awareness Week, Interpreter Education Online (IEO), leading healthcare and legal interpreter training organization, is offering a special discount for ASL Interpreters. In partnership with CEUs on the GO, IEO offers courses that offer RID CEUs. And from now through September 25, 2016, ASL Interpreters will receive 20% off any course taken through IEO.

Contact us for a coupon!

Terminology Contest: Who’s the most proficient of them all?

Every day we post a medical or legal term of the day for our interpreters. If you are on Twitter, follow us and join for the contest: respond to our Term of The Day with your translation into your target language. ASL interpreters can record and post videos with interpretation of the term.

Those who will tweet the most number of term translations or ASL interpretations in the end of each month have a chance to win 30% discount off any of our single-topic courses or free access to any of our webinars!


Certificate vs. Certification for Interpreters, part 2

All 50 states have well established prerequisites, testing and certification processes for their court interpreters. To find out the requirements for your state, look for the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) site for your state. If you Google “AOC interpreter certification” and the name of your state, you will be directed to the site for additional information and the testing dates that are relevant for your area.

Unlike court interpreting in the U.S., where all 50 states have a process overseen by their respective AOCs, medical interpreting has only had state certification since 1991 for one state. The State of Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) certified medical and social service interpreters. National healthcare interpreter certification is only available for specific languages, and has only been available since 2010. Oregon has skipped implementing a state process and requires national certification for healthcare interpreters working in state hospitals. This is a growing trend in many states.

For more information regarding Washington’s state certifications for medical and social services interpreting, visit:

DSHS-WA currently certifies medical interpreters in the following eight languages:

  • Cambodian
  • Chinese Cantonese
  • Chinese Mandarin
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese

DSHS currently certifies social service interpreters, medical interpreters, translators, DSHS active and potential bilingual employees and licensed agency personnel in the above languages.

For all other languages, The Department authorizes social service interpreters and medical interpreters using a screening test.  All other languages are screened and authorized by DSHS, but only the eight languages listed above are certified languages for medical interpreters in the State of Washington.

The national certifying bodies also certify only in specific, high demand languages. Beginning in 2010, two national certifying bodies, Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) and the National Certification Board for Medical interpreters (NCBMI) began certifying interpreters whose second language is Spanish.

Each year since then has resulted in the introduction of an additional language certification test. Currently, CCHI has certified approximately 1,800 healthcare interpreters nationally as CHIs, and NBCMI has certified approximately 1,300 medical interpreters nationwide.

Combined, both of these national certifying bodies, CCHI and NBCMI, offer healthcare interpreter certification for seven languages: Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean. Pre-requisites to register for the written and oral proficiency tests include a high school diploma and a minimum of 40 hours of medical interpreter training.

For the Deaf community, the certifying body that assesses and certifies ASL interpreters is known as Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Although there is currently no medical sub-specialty training for ASL interpreters, they do offer specialized training in interpreting for mental health. However, contrast their number of certified interpreters with the spoken language certifications and you will be impressed.

Currently in the U.S. there are more than 16,000 RID certified ASL interpreters! The prerequisites for obtaining and maintaining certification are stricter for ASL interpreters than for spoken language interpreters. Among the stricter prerequisites for ASL are a college degree plus six units of CEUs every year to keep ASL certifications current.

(source: )

If you are an interpreter, I urge you to pursue national certification. If you supervise a program or own an interpreter agency, I strongly urge you to encourage your staff and agency interpreters who work for you to pursue national certification.

Eliana Lobo, 

Special for IEO

The Constitution, the Rules of Engagement and the Playbook: A nonprofit framework

team-1317270_1280The number of nonprofit organizations registered with the IRS increased 2.8% from 2003 to 2013, for a total of 1.41 million organizations.[i] Meaning that even during the recession they showed momentum, and they contributed an estimated US $905,9 billion to the economy (2013).[ii]

Professional associations are a type of nonprofit and they aim to serve the needs of specialized groups. In exchange for their services they earn exemptions from the government according to IRS and states’ rules and regulations. The IRS offers a wealth of information on non-profits, how to incorporate, required language, how to choose the type that fits your objectives, etc. See the reference section below for a collection of related websites.[iii]

Once you identify the form your entity will take, it is time to develop the documents that will guide it into the future.

The Articles of Incorporation are your association’s constitution. It will define its name, place of business, objectives, how it will be governed, and terminated. Click here for some useful information.

Another important document is the Bylaws. It defines the rules of engagement. For example, in the Articles of Incorporation the association determines that Board members will be elected by voting members. In the Bylaws you determine how often these elections will take place, how they are staggered to allow for  old and new members to work side-by-side, how long the terms are, how many times one can be reelected, how the elections will be carried out, how to handle board vacancies, how to handle members’ complaint, etc. Click here to see samples.

The third document you need is your Procedures Manual, the playbook. In it the association defines routine procedures to avoid duplication of tasks, increase efficacy and efficiency, appoint who is going to do what and how. Keeping with the elections theme, in the Procedures Manual there would be templates for the documents used during election: notice to members, package for candidates, calendar of elections; rules on how to establish an Election/Nominations Committee, etc. I found a good starting point for a Procedures Manual here.

Another important point: all documents are organic and should be updated as needed. The growth and maturity of the organization are to be reflected in those documents for the good health of the organization.

It is important to understand that a non-profit is a business: You have a product, goals, stakeholders (you call them “members”). You need a corporate identity; instead of departments, you have committees; you will need administrative personnel. You will need to define talking points, long-, short- and short-short-term goals, then, you assign those to someone. Meaning, identifying the need for an action is not enough, you need to assign the action to someone who will be held accountable.

Finances are a very important part of your growth and continuity. Once you reach a strong financial position (3 times your operating expenses, for example), create a Reserve, an Operational and a Projects accounts. The Reserve Account is a guarantee for the future of the organization and should not be tapped except for emergencies; the Operational Account includes petty cash, recurring payments, etc.; and the Projects account is supposed to cover expenses with the entity’s main goal(s). The way the Board decides to divvy up the treasury, determines how funds are to be allocated from there on, i.e. funds coming into the entity are to be divided into each of those accounts. They can be accrued and divided at the end of a previously agreed upon period, but all accounts should receive a portion of funds coming into the treasury. You also need to plan for continuity. The three framework documents, the reserve account and elections are your strategic pilars.

The strength of your organization rests with your members. Keeping them engaged and committed is vital for a vibrant organization. Showcasing your members’ talents is a great way to foster loyalty and commitment. In the organization I presided, board members were encouraged to participate in at least one committee. Committees were chaired by non-board members and the board member became the liaison to the Board, providing direct access. Through committee work, members become familiar with the workings of the organization and, later on may serve on the Board. Members will become engaged when there are well defined goals that meet their needs, when they see their work recognized, when their involvement has a specific beginning and end, when their dues are turned into value beyond the actual cost.

Creating aggregate value for their membership is easy to accomplish through relationships with other associations and vendors. Offer those associations and vendors the opportunity to speak to your members or to sponsor an event, such as providing refreshments in exchange for their name on the program and promotional material as sponsors. Offer also to speak at their meetings. Contact the American Translators Association (ATA), International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters to see about continuing education points. Some presentations can cross professions: medical terminology can be used by translators and medical, court and conference interpreters.

Just like a family or other organic groups, there are phases in the life of an organization.  Once I was point-blank asked if I was sick because I chose to leave a leadership position. Leaders also have to set goals and realize when it is time let other voices have their thunder.

It is emotionally cathartic to go through the experience. And it is very important to know the signs. Sometimes the signs do not come from your organization, but from people close to you who miss your presence in their lives; sometimes it is the organization that is acting like a well-reared teenager. Either way, the moment comes to let others have the strength of their voices heard. It is your moment to feel proud, step back and enjoy.


By Gio Lester, special for Interpreter Education Online


[i] Non-profit Sector in Brief 2014 ––.PDF




Other References:

National Center for Charitable Statistics:


Certificate vs. Certification for Interpreters: What’s the Difference? part 1

quality-control-1257235_640This week’s blog will be the first part of a four-part series. We’ll be looking at the difference between interpreter certification versus interpreter training (that often leads to a certificate).

Part 1 will clarify the difference between what it means to be a certified interpreter as compared to having obtained a certificate of training. Part 2 will detail all of the currently available certifications for interpreters, at both the state and federal levels, for ASL (American Sign Language) and for spoken language interpreters. Part 3 will cover training requirements related to these certifications and how to find quality training for yourself locally. We’ll look at quality training for interpreters and translators, and look at courses specifically created for interpreters who work in healthcare and the courts.  Part 4 will review quality trainings available online.

Being bilingual does not automatically indicate or equal the ability to interpret. Just as the needed skill sets for interpreting as compared to translating are remarkably different, a similar case can be made for bilingualism not being a sufficient guarantee of competency for one to work as an interpreter. This is particularly true for Heritage speakers.

Increasingly, more and more hospitals are moving to a policy of only allowing certified interpreters, even if booked through an agency, on-site. All 50 states individually require all interpreters to be certified or registered as a court interpreter with the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts).

It is important for interpreters to understand which certifications provide valid credentials so they may choose intelligently among the options that are available to them.

So, let’s understand what it meant when someone says they are “certified.” Many people conflate the meaning of ‘certified’ with having a ‘certificate.’

A certificate of completion, or a certificate of attendance, is not the same thing, nor is it equal to being nationally or state certified. Being certified means your proficiency has been assessed impartially by a third party. It is official recognition by the certifying body that you possess certain qualifications and meet certain standards. A certificate, on the other hand, attests to attendance and successful completion of a course of study or targeted training. Certificates are issued by the same entity that offered the training, rather than an impartial third party who developed and administered the proficiency tests.

There are many national certifications available to spoken language and ASL interpreters, for specific practice areas such as court, conference and healthcare, but there aren’t nearly as many certifying bodies.

Here below are the acronyms you should be looking for as you research interpreter trainings, as these organizations are the only certifying national bodies for interpreters. ASL interpreters do not have a medical sub-specialty credential yet that is offered by their national certifying body.

The official certifying bodies for each sub-specialty are as follows:

For ASL:

For spoken language interpreters in courts:

  • AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts), each state has their own AOC

For spoken language interpreters in healthcare:

For spoken language interpreters in conferences:

For Translators:

Becoming certified offers many advantages in terms of employability, rates paid, as well as your own professional development. All certifications require continuing education units to stay viable, and these CEs need to be completed within specified time-frames. This ensures that all certified individuals keep their skills sharp and up to date to deliver the best language access services to clients.

You should visit the site for the organization that administers the certification tests for your area of specialization. They will spell out what is required to obtain, as well as what is required to maintain, your certification.

Just because you are certified in one sub-specialty, does not mean you can skip the certification process for a different sub-specialty. Someone who is court-certified is not sufficiently trained in medical terminology and medical ethics/standards of practice/HIPAA to do the job in a healthcare setting, even though they may possess excellent language skills in English and the target language, and excellent conversion skills for either consecutive or simultaneous interpretation. They would still lack subject matter expertise, bilingual medical terminology and knowledge of process for clinics and hospitals. The same holds true for a healthcare interpreter attempting to interpret for a court session. Acting outside your area of specialization could put your client or patient at risk, or compromise the case should it even go to appeal.

Part 2 of this blog will detail all the available certifications by practice area, so you can decide for yourself which one would be the best fit for you.

Eliana Lobo, 

Special for IEO

Teaching a child Sign Language

Deaf children born to hearing parents are traditionally deprived of language for several years, if no one in the child’s family knows Sign Language. The deprivation can be prevented with the means of the most readily available language for Deaf children – Sign Language. Parents can learn along with their children to help promote the innate ability of children to cope, learn, and adapt to anything and everything life throws at them.

Children cannot begin to use speech until after their vocal chords mature. On the other hand, babies can begin to learn Sign Language from birth. If a parent were to start with ten basic signs, their child will be able to start communicating right away. Experts say that a child should have mastery of 25 words by the time they are 2 years old. If a parent were to use those 25 words from the day a child is born, the child could have those words mastered before other children of the same age. A parent could add a modest 3 words per week after 6 months. That would mean a child would know more than 100 words before they turn 2 years old.

The Nyle DiMarco Foundation was created by the famous Deaf actor, winner of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 22 and the winner of Dancing with the Stars 2016. Its website states, “The Foundation aims to improve access to accurate, research-based information about early language acquisition–specifically, the bilingual education approach. Through the early intervention process, the child’s language and literacy development should be the focal point.”

There are also several children stories in ASL that can help teach your child different concepts: language, literacy, numbers, facial expressions, and various school readiness skills. Parents can learn, too. Another positive side effect: your little one will not be able to pick up the words the neighbors use to curse at each other. All kidding aside, teaching your child Sign Language from birth will help to improve their language and communication skills. It will prevent your baby from crying in frustration, since you will know what they want they first time they sign it.

Chip Watts

Communicating in a New Era

Effective communication has always been a necessary tool for personal and professional encounters. Essays, books, blogs, and more, have been written about how to learn to communicate better. Most of these tips include things like paying attention to your tone, being focused on the conversation at hand, being an engaged listener, knowing what your body language is saying, avoiding overly emotional conversations until enough time has passed to look at a situation objectively, and much more. These are all very useful and relevant guidelines to effective communication.

But with the advancement of technology come new obstacles in the already challenging world of communication. Emails have become the preferred method of communication for most businesses, allowing for quick responses, group meetings, and a lot of other helpful professional uses. Email, however, does not include body language or vocal inflection, and can commonly be misconstrued. Not only does email lack the physical and audible elements of communication, but how an email is written, signed, addressed, and the fonts, caps, punctuations, etc. used can all create hurdles in your meaning coming through the way you intended.

Email is not the only technological advancement, either. Businesses are also turning to instant messaging and text messaging as faster, more efficient modes of communication. This creates entirely new barriers in communicating effectively, and can be tricky when trying to remain professional.

Communication is a difficult but inherent part of all daily routines, whether at work, home, school, or at a restaurant. As we advance and move from words to emojis, reliance on text over face-to-face, translating software, and near-daily word additions to the common dictionary, communication continues to change which requires a constant need for understanding how to communicate with efficiency and courtesy, while still remaining true to your intention. Interpreter Education Online is a leader in helping interpreters better their knowledge and education in order to help communication in different languages. But we also promote healthy business practices and offer monthly webinars on various topics to improve your general understanding of communication in the workplace, and personal advancement. Join the conversation on LinkedIn and Facebook, and let us know what works for your effective communication!

Webinar Series: Up Next!

IEO has recently implemented a new series of webinars for interpreters, which kicked off with Bruce Adelson’s highly acclaimed “Interpreter Standards of Conduct and the Law.” Up next, we will be featuring “Interpreter Self-Assessment” with Eliana Lobo.

This webinar is for both novice and experienced interpreters to learn how to self-assess their own skills, and how to design skills and drills practice to improve weak areas. The presentation is geared towards working interpreters, showing them how to enhance their remote persona as well as assess their own interpreting skills. Tips and techniques for improved performance on the job and self-assessment will be offered. The opportunity to practice specific skill building exercises will be made available to the attendees in the form of a group exercise. Links to additional practice drills and skill building videos are also provided. Suggestions for how to utilize these resources and measure and assess one’s progress will be shared along with a worksheet to print out and use to track progress and skills improvement over time.

Eliana Lobo is a native speaker of English and Portuguese, with a master’s degree in Bilingual Education from Brown University, where she taught Portuguese as a Teaching Fellow, and awarded a Fulbright Grant to conduct research in Brazil. An experienced court and medical interpreter, Eliana is a WA state authorized medical interpreter, a certified Trainer of medical interpreters, and a CoreCHI healthcare interpreter. Currently, Director of Multicultural Awareness Programs & Services, a division of Bromberg & Associates, Eliana was formerly the Supervisor/ Trainer of Interpreters for seven years at Harborview, a regional trauma center/ teaching hospital, with 49 staff interpreters.

Eliana is a member of NCIHC’s “Home for Trainers” workgroup, hosting webinars for medical interpreter trainers, (the winner of ProZ’s 2014 Community Choice Award, for “Best Training Series”) .
The webinar will take place on Tuesday, June 21st, from 1:00 PM EST until 2:00 PM EST and is available for registration starting today! The cost is $35 until June 17th, when late registration will take the price to $45. Slots fill up quickly, so be sure to keep an eye out. And let us know how webinars better you as an interpreter! Join the conversation on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Joining the Workforce

It can be a very daunting idea – joining or re-joining the workforce.  Whether you are just leaving college and about to enter into the workforce for the first time, or you have been working for a long time but had to take a break because of having a baby, going back to school, or a myriad of other reasons, it is a challenge that could scare anyone.

There are many easy steps, tips, and advice blogs out there for just that purpose. There are also counselors, statistics, and professionals that specialize in the category. The good news for those entering the workforce for the first time is that colleges are better preparing students for a long term career, and large companies like Google are starting to hire people just out of college or even high school.  For those re-entering the workforce, experience and ability to self-assess are valuable assets to employers.

So how do you prepare and what can you tell yourself to best equip you for the task at hand?

Get to know the industry. So many sites exist online, like LinkedIn, Facebook, and more, in addition to the blog after blog, customer review, and online transparency of most companies today. Look at the company in depth, see who is competing for the job you’re going for, and truthfully take a look at your skills in comparison. Risk taking could be a bold statement to employers if you have the right attitude and passion for the job and the company.

It’s incredibly important to remember to be true to yourself. Just as companies are becoming more transparent thanks to online blogs and reviews, people are also pretty visible online now. What you do is documented in social media pictures, posts, and other things you may not even know about. Own who you are, own your mistakes, and look at them as opportunities.

The bottom line is that preparing yourself is the first step, and that starts with education and research. We at Interpreter Education Online can offer both if your field of choice is Interpretation or Translation. Even if not, we may be able to point you in the right direction! Join the conversation on Facebook and LinkedIn!


The Future of Online Learning

Society often has its ways of “predicting” the future. We see it in films, books, and scientific studies. Some predictions are incredibly accurate while others completely miss the mark. One prediction, however, has not only been accurate, but continues to grow beyond its original scope – that is the future of online learning.

In 2010, online learning was on the rise, with over a million students more than the previous year in college classes. In 2011, nearly 30% of all college and university students were enrolled in at least one online class. That number has only continued to grow.

As the technology advances and our ability to access and utilize technology becomes easier, learning and training take on new forms yearly. What was the new trend last year has quickly become old hat as new trends take over. The access to smartphones and tablets has increased substantially and most employees have at least one, if not both. In business, this means that training employees has never been more cost efficient or effective. Through these advances, businesses are able to create in demand training that can even go so far as to offer real-time training at the push of a button. The decreasing cost of HD cameras, video editing software, and ready availability of access to clouds and increased bandwidth make it surprisingly easy for even the smallest of businesses to train their employees at a fraction of previous costs.

Video content is predicted to be the most in-demand kind of training in the next ten years and short term, real-time training is expected to take over. With 24 hour access to the internet and the ability to work on one’s own schedule, it seems that businesses should be paying close attention to this trend and utilizing it to the best of their abilities.

Interpreter Education Online has been a force in the online learning community since its inception, and continues to adapt to these training trends.  Our new series on webinars offer a concise list of in-demand subject matter for low cost and easy access. Check out what we have to offer and join the conversation on Facebook and LinkedIn! Your voice matters!

Know the Law

Interpreters are faced with many difficult challenges. Those in the medical, community,  and legal fields have many laws, rules, and guidelines to follow, on top of the interpreter code of ethics. In the hospital or in the courtroom, an interpreter and his or her accurate interpretation can sometimes mean the difference between life and death, or innocent or guilty. More and more hospitals are turning to certified interpreters, and the legal field is doing the same. But certification doesn’t necessarily ensure that each interpreter stays up to date on laws, or their varying applications at the Federal and State levels.

Did you know that a new study has shown medical errors are now the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer? It’s astounding, to say the least. And the news is filled with stories about court cases being compromised because of a wrong interpretation or lack of proper interpretation.

As the demand for interpreters grows, so do some organization’s oversights in hiring qualified and certified interpreters. So what can you do to ensure you are doing everything you can to adhere to all the laws, rules, codes, and guidelines of the industry?

Continuing education is always helpful, as is knowledge of terminology and procedure. Courses such as these are offered at Interpreter Education Online.

We are also offering an exclusive webinar on May 24th, with Bruce Adelson, a former DOJ prosecutor and expert in federal compliance. This webinar, entitled “Interpreter Standards of Conduct and the Law”, will go over the essentials of HIPAA, codes of ethics, and federal law. It is an imperative learning experience for medical and legal interpreters alike. The webinar is $45 if you register by May 20th, and $55 after May 20th. This is the second webinar in a new series with more to come every month. Join us May 24th and beyond, and join the conversation on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages!

The Value of Webinars

It’s no secret that webinars have been a growing trend in every industry for a while now. Attending a live seminar or conference is obviously beneficial, as is taking an online training course. But a webinar speaks to the heart of our fast-paced and steadily increasing business world’s main need: “get it done now, and move on to the next task.”

A webinar allows you to learn a great deal about a specialized topic while at the comfort of your desk or home computer. It cuts down on travel time and still allows you to participate via live chats and the live broadcast. It takes an hour or two out of your day compared to half a day or even a full day.

The benefits are not just ease of access and comfort, either. A study shows that webinars in the professional community are 87% as effective or more effective than in person or online learning. In addition, 76% of trainers use the same materials in their webinars that they do for online or in person training.

Interpreter Education Online is happy to join the trend. Kicking off May 3rd is our first webinar, hosted by renowned CEO and interpreter Jinny Bromberg. It deals with Vicarious Trauma, the emotional residue of exposure to various traumatic situations that many professions, including interpreters may carry with them. Accredited by CCHI for CEUs, this webinar is only $30 and lasts for one hour.

On May 24th, hugely successful federal consultant and advocate Bruce Adelson takes on our second webinar, covering HIPAA for interpreters. This webinar is $45 and lasts for one hour, also accredited by CCHI.

Visit our site today and join the conversation on LinkedIn and Facebook!

The New Health Epidemic

You won’t hear about this on the news. You aren’t likely to encounter it on social media either. The epidemic sweeping the nation isn’t a new virus, or a rare re-surfacing of an old one. It is, quite simply, stress. That’s right, The World Health Organization has deemed stress the “health epidemic of the 21st century.” While work-life balance has always been a struggle, it has become increasingly necessary and yet nearly impossible to accomplish. The introduction and progression of technology and supply-demand keep professionals engaged in their work 24/7, leaving little room for balance. And it’s not only individuals who are suffering from this epidemic. Businesses are spending countless amounts of money to try to alleviate stress in the workplace.

It may seem like stress is just an inevitable part of life, and maybe not that serious. But the cost of managing stress and its symptoms is more than the treatment of cancer, smoking, diabetes and heart disease combined.  It is a one trillion dollar health epidemic. A little more serious than we thought! Doctor Andrea Purcell explains that stress causes a scientific hormone imbalance, which can lead to any number of symptoms and illnesses. Addictive behavior, depression, obesity, insomnia, allergies, skin disorders – to name a few – can all be brought on by stress.

So what can you do? Those memes you see online about taking it a day at a time, living a life of gratitude, and shifting your perspective are all correct. Stress is managed by changing habits, taking time for oneself, and understanding your needs. It sounds like a simple solution, but it is challenging to add time for meditation, exercise, or any other activity/mindset that could help relieve the damages of stress.

Challenging, but not impossible. Do yourself a favor, and take a moment out of every day to check in with your stress levels. Address problems as they come up, and pay attention to the world around you. Disengage from your phone for a while. Learn something new, and expand your horizons. Interpreter Education Online is a great way to give you a mental shift and put your focus on furthering your education or easing the difficulty of training a bilingual staff. Let us work for you! Join the conversation on LinkedIn and Facebook today!

Announcing Webinars!

Interpreter Education Online has been a proud provider of comprehensive online training and testing for interpreters around the world for years. Now we are adding webinars to our array of options and already have an exciting layout of upcoming webinars.
Our first webinar is scheduled for May 3, 2016, and will be presented by our own Jinny Bromberg. Jinny is the Executive Director of IEO, President of Bromberg & Associates, first State Court Certified Russian Interpreter in Michigan and a passionate language access champion. Her Webinar, Vicarious Trauma, will be presented May 3, 2016 at 1:00 pm EST. It will last for one hour and costs $30.00. The Webinar will cover different types of stress, focusing on Vicarious Trauma. Many interpreters do not realize that they can be severely affected by Vicarious Trauma and the outcome could be serious. We will discuss what VT is and its impact on interpreters. We will also examine the ways to cope and overcome VT.
We are very excited to announce that our second webinar will be hosted by Bruce Adelson a well-known expert on compliance. Here is a sneak peak at Bruce’s webinar: Interpreter standards of conduct and the law intersect more than you may know. Often, these intersections reveal conflicting messages, expectations, and requirements. We will use the recent case of an American Sign Language interpreter’s unexpected HIPAA violation to discuss the surprising contradictions between interpreter communication transparency and federal law.
This webinar will be May 24th, 2016 at 1:00 PM EST and will cost $45.00. Registration for both webinars will open next week.
We would really like to hear from you! What topics would you like to see covered in future webinars? Let us know by visiting our site and commenting on Facebook and LinkedIn!

Do You Have a Niche?

In any profession, there is typically extensive training and a process for learning information and applying it. But what happens once you have completed the training and are a working professional with experience? Continuing education is something we have talked about before and will always rally for, but is there something else you could be doing to improve your client base and expand your market appeal?

Of course! There is a niche in every market, and interpreting is no different. Finding your niche market can be a game changer for your career. Entrepreneur says that targeting a niche market allows professionals to “focus on meeting the needs of a smaller group of customers without compromising their chance to increase the appeal to a broader market.” This is a great way to serve clients on a large scale while still advancing your learning and abilities in order to stay a long term player.

According to Want Words, the strength of this kind of marketing lies here: “The power of the niche is the old “big fish in a little pond” theory. It’s more likely that you’ll become well known for something when you focus in one small area.” Interpreters everywhere can find unique subject matter that they can become experts at in order to create demand. For instance, Abigail Dahlberg has made a name for herself by being an expert in waste-management German to English translation.

Where would your niche be? We can help you find it! If you are a medical interpreter, have you thought about delving into the world of mental health, or specifically well versed in prenatal and neonatal care interpreting? What about honing your skills as an interpreter for expert witnesses? There are opportunities everywhere to expand your niche market and make yourself more broadly appealing and dynamic.

Let Interpreter Education Online help you find your niche today. Visit our website, and join the conversation on LinkedIn and Facebook!

Rejuvenate Your Career!

It is an all too common feeling – you’ve worked hard to get where you are in your career and then, suddenly, it starts to feel a bit routine. So how do you revive both your career and your enthusiasm? There are many easy ways to accomplish a sense of job rejuvenation. And here are some of them!

Start by following this ancient saying: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. That’s right. A huge part of rejuvenating your career is simply a shift in attitude and outlook. You often hear about changing an attitude having a positive impact on your life, but it’s true. Changing how you see your current standings and how you view your future path can lead you to try new things and be bolder in the workplace. Start making new decisions that challenge you and create new goals for yourself.

Another important aspect of revitalizing your career is ensuring that your PR is up to date. The market is consistently changing as new social media platforms trend and emerge, and you want to be sure that you are on top of the changes. In a social media savvy era, not having a search worthy or resonating online presence can be a huge pitfall to your career goals. There is free literature online about current trends, so take advantage of those resources!

Something that will always be instrumental in rejuvenating any career is updating and continuing to grow your individual skillset. No matter how much you have learned in any given field, there is always room to learn more. As times change, so do aspects of any industry, and keeping yourself up to date on training and continuing education can only lead to career advancement.

We are huge advocates of continued education at Interpreter Education Online. For instance, If you are an interpreter looking for something to rejuvenate your career, take a look at our VRI course. Video Remote Interpreting is on the rise and a huge asset to the skillsets of interpreters. However you choose to do it, start rejuvenating your career today, and join the conversation on Facebook and LinkedIn!

What is Your Body Saying?

We often think our minds and bodies are saying the same thing, but it may be surprising to know that our bodies are often times doing the exact opposite of what our minds are thinking. Body language, or the lack of knowledge about your personal body language, is one of the leading causes of miscommunication both in the workplace and in everyday life. Knowing what our bodies are saying is an important aspect in making sure we are being heard and seen the way we want to be.

Here are some helpful tips on getting to know the language of your body. For instance, crossed arms and legs are almost always a sign of being closed off from the person to whom you’re talking, and will likely put them on the defensive. Without knowing it, you may be pushing someone away simply by crossing your arms.

Mirroring is an important technique in achieving a successful interaction through body language. It simply means you take on the attributes of the person with whom you are speaking or interpreting for. This creates a sense of comfort and ease and a familiarity that doesn’t have to be forced to be appreciated.

Another technique for aiding in positive body language communication is the physical and vocal recognition of the conversation. If someone is speaking to you, and you simply remain silent, the person speaking is not getting any kind of “feedback”. When we use nods, filler words like “yes, uh-huh, I see”, etc, we are giving feedback without an opinion. This eases access to the communication and can help ensure the communication is more honest.

There are many more techniques – people write full books on this topic. But these are good starting points. Starting soon, Interpreter Education Online will be rolling out new courses, including Acting Techniques for the Interpreter, which will help interpreters to become more knowledgeable on properly expressing body language. Visit our website today and join the conversation on LinkedIn and Facebook!

IEO Via Webinars!

You, our valued reader, have known IEO as a leader in online learning and continuing education for interpreters and translators, offering a variety of e-learning courses, proficiency tests, and resources for interpreters at any stage in their professional career from beginners to certified and seasoned professionals. Soon, the list of resources will be growing as we add live webinars.

That’s right! Starting in April, IEO will be offering webinars on various topics, from a variety of presenters, professionals, teachers, and industry experts from all around the world. These webinars will help to advance your skills, knowledge, and career goals in just a short time!

This is an exciting time to for IEO, and we hope you will be a part of it. We look forward to your suggestions on webinar topics and your feedback to the webinars you are going to attend in the next months.

And of course, we look forward to helping you with your specific needs, whether they are testing your proficiency, preparing for a certification exam, obtaining continuing education credits or testing your bilingual staff! Our site is available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, and at your service, so come grow with us! Join the conversation on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages today!

Spring Forward

Spring is upon us, and as we get ready to shake off the winter blues, extra pounds, and last year’s troubles, it’s essential to have a sturdy grasp on ways to get the best out of the change in season. Every year Spring brings the promise of something new, something to appreciate, and much to look forward to. So get on your forward thinking path today, and change your perspective to one that leads to a healthier lifestyle!

Something we need to be healthy is sleep. It’s incredibly difficult to get the amount of sleep our bodies require, but we have to find a way to do it. Naps are a good way to make up for lost sleep, as well as re-training the body on how to sleep for a consecutive eight hours.

Obviously, eating right is a clear path to healthy living. But on any given day, and according to the source, eating right can change definition. One way to consistently eat better is to shop at your local farmer’s market and eat the food that is in season. You’ll get the best nutrients and also be helping the local economy. Small businesses have to thrive in the spring as well!

Did you know that you can actually start living a healthier, more positive lifestyle simply by practicing random acts of kindness? It’s true! Take that extra moment to say “thank you”, or to hold the door open for someone. Help someone across the street. Set out to achieve at least one random act of kindness each day and see what it does for your outlook.

Exercise is a big factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I think we’re all aware of that. But it’s hard to fit into an already busy day in which we are sleep deprived. So walk more. Simply by walking, you increase your metabolism and rejuvenate your body. It’s definitely a start!

And take control of your future. Don’t wait for things to come to you. Make them happen! If you are an interpreter or organization who uses interpreters or wants to test your bilingual staff’s proficiency, get over to our courses and either take a course to further your education or sign up for a language proficiency test. After all, there is no time like the present, and Spring is in the air! Join the conversation on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Attitude of Gratitude

For those of us living in a four-season climate, winter can really get you down, can’t it? After the warm fuzzy feelings of the holidays wear off, we’re left with a lot of humdrum winter blah. But, with spring just around the corner, we thought it important to remember to keep an attitude of gratitude. While the clouds may still be sending down snow or sleet, we get the choice to radiate sunshine!

Gratitude has been a much talked about topic for a while now. Psychologists and scientists have even proven that a grateful attitude can improve a person’s overall well-being! People who adopt this attitude tend to enjoy life more, and find ease and simplicity in day-to-day functions. Sounds fantastic, right? So how can you start feeling more grateful?

There are a lot of articles and tips on how to go about achieving and maintaining an attitude of gratitude (just ask the Huffington Post!), but one sure fire starting point is a gratitude journal. Encouraged by self-help gurus everywhere, taking a moment to reflect each day on just one small thing for which you are grateful will set you on the right path.

It is important to remain realistic, however. No one can be happy all of the time. It takes complete self-honesty. Take serious stock of what you have, what you think you should have, and what you have been taught to think you should have. There are huge differences between the three. Once you start to realize that the “what you have” list is the reality, you can better accept and be grateful for all you have and will accomplish.

At Interpreter Education Online, we know that achieving goals and feeling better equipped for life’s challenges is important to you. We offer courses, lessons, and a wide variety of other resources for interpreters, translators, and organizations in order to help you thrive. Join the conversation on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

What is Your Brand?

Business practices are constantly changing with the times to ensure success, and branding is one of the most important components of a consistently successful business. The times may change, but the brand most likely will not. Why? People are paying for the brand more often than they are paying for the product. So what is your brand? What does it say about your company? How can you improve it? And why is it called branding, anyway?

Most people are familiar with the origin of the term, but for anyone who isn’t, here is a rundown: Originally, branding was a technique used by animal owners to make sure there was no confusion over propriety. The word brand actually comes from the Old Norse term for “burn”. Now branding has become the overall compass of a business, in a less literal way, it is still used in order to ensure propriety is intact.

As an educational organization, we like to not only provide insight and discussion topics, but we like to take the extra step and create a one-stop-shop on information regarding the subject matter. That is part of our brand. Your brand defines your business. It starts with a sharp, precise logo. It continues with a promise to your consumers and employees. It is a reflection on you, your practices, and your products.

Over the years, branding has become more and more important, as the business world leans more and more towards social media and online networking for product sales and exposure. With so many businesses emerging daily, it is imperative to have a definitive brand. Is your brand a household name yet? Can your logo be recognized on a billboard from a mile away? Is your brand in sync with your mission statement and core values?

This weekend, take a moment to look at your brand versus some of your competitors’. How does yours compare? Check out Interpreter Education Online’s website to learn more about our brand, to enroll in a training course, or to post to our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Acting Techniques for the Interpreter

We’ve drawn a parallel once before of the similarities between the skill sets of actors and the skill sets of interpreters. While the two are very different fields, many techniques used by actors can be utilized by interpreters. There are many occasions while interpreting that either suppressing or conjuring emotion may be helpful. Also, vocal techniques and physical adjustments can aide the interpreter in getting the job done as healthily as possible.

There are many famed acting technique teachers, all with their own methods. Uta Hagen, for example, uses “substitution” as a main technique, which can be incredibly helpful for interpreters. It involves recreating a memory in the mind that is the opposite or the same (depending on the circumstance) of the situation for which one is interpreting, in order to bring the emotion (or lack of emotion), of that memory into the interpretation.

There are also several public speaking techniques that can be useful to interpreters. One trick for successful speaking in public is admitting nervousness. Both in acting and public speaking, we tend to let nerves get the best of us. When we acknowledge the nervousness, we can often use it to our advantage instead of letting it be our downfall.

Emotional life is a difficult thing to have a handle on. Whether it’s interpreting in a courtroom or running a successful business, emotions are a part of human life and will always creep in when least expected. There are many articles and blogs on how to manage emotions in the workplace, but it is surprisingly easy to achieve emotional management when one puts acting techniques into play.

Interpreter Education Online will be unveiling an all new set of courses in the coming months that feature in-depth studies on these techniques as well as other focused lessons. Keep your eyes peeled, and in the meantime, join the conversation on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Save Your Voice

As interpreters, it is exceedingly important to know and understand our voices. Singers are taught that the voice is their instrument. It is the same for anyone who spends long amounts of time speaking. All too often, a little tickle in the throat will go ignored, only to result in the loss of voice. How can we be of any service to the people for whom we are providing interpreting if we can’t speak?

There are many articles, blogs, and books about successful voice techniques. But we’d like to sum a few up for you. One thing that is agreed upon across the board is the avoidance of spicy, fatty, or creamy foods. Though these can often be the tastiest, they can erode and or coat your vocal cords in a way that makes speaking more difficult.

According to Live Science, it is very damaging to clear your throat often. While it may seem like a temporary relief, it actually rubs the vocal cords together, and can create long term damage over time. Instead of clearing your throat before speaking, think about taking a sip of water and a deep breath. Also, dryness has a serious effect on your vocal ability, so invest in a humidifier at home, and make sure to avoid smoking at all costs. Smoking is one of the most damaging things you can do to your voice.

These may seem like common remedies, many that you may already be familiar with. However, did you know that stress is a huge factor in your vocal wellness? It’s true! The more stress you have in your life, the less you are able to project and protect your voice. So remember last week’s article on stress relief? Try practicing some of the techniques we talked about then. Meditation, working out, and yoga are all very healthy ways to relieve stress and strengthen your voice.

Interpreter Education Online is going to be unraveling some courses centered around specialized techniques just like these, so keep your eyes peeled. And as always, there is no time like the present to keep up to date on your interpreting knowledge by taking one of our courses! Join the conversation on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

The Stress of Stress

We have all been there. One more phone call or email seems like it might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. On edge, tired, and not looking forward to the day ahead. We’re human, and we deal with stress. Whether you are a certified interpreter, an interpreter in training, or the head of an organization that utilizes language services, you can relate. It is important for everyone to learn how to reduce stress, but it is particularly important in this industry, as miscommunication can lead to dire outcomes.

So we at Interpreter Education Online are giving you some ideas and resources to help you deal with your stress. Anxiety and stress is responsible for 70 million Americans’ lack of sleep, which can lead to diminish confidence and capability. Psychology Today offers five useful tips, the first being to remember that “this too shall pass”. Keeping that one phrase in mind can make a huge difference.

Another article from suggests that finding the cause of stress leads to easier stress management. If we can identify the source of the problem, more often than not, we can better manage the problem. We should look at our habits, our routines, and our basic mental outlook when trying to seek the source of stress.

We’ve probably all heard to simply “breathe” during a stressful situation, but did you know that breathing deeply can actually alter the state of your brain? WebMD shares ten tips for relieving stress and the number one activity they recommend is meditation, including deep breathing. It only takes a few minutes a day but can completely change your outlook.

One thing that will always cause stress in our lives is putting something off. That gnawing feeling of knowing there is something that has to be taken care of won’t go away until we do what we set out to. So if you have been putting off furthering your education, or testing your interpreters for language proficiency, don’t wait any longer! Take a course or proficiency test with Interpreter Education Online and join the conversation on our Facebook and LinkedIn Pages!

Passion and Productivity

It’s the age old question in business: does passion lead to productivity? There is no concrete answer. In fact, many businesses still debate the topic. What is not in question, however, is that passion for something implies that a person is enthusiastic about it. It would stand to reason, then, that someone who is passionate would be more productive, would it not?

Most businesses and organizations would say yes. When an employee is passionate, their work ethic increases. They are more apt to get things done on time and within scope. When a person feels strongly about something, he or she is more likely going to act in a greater capacity. While action does not necessarily mean the outcome is productive, it does mean there is an abundance of outcomes. More work, more choices, more solutions. That sounds like productivity.

Passion in the workplace can be determined by many factors. One that is widely agreed upon is culture. The culture of a working environment starts from the top and trickles down. Employees need to feel that they are doing work for someone who appreciates not only the work being done, but the cause itself. A passionate leader is more likely to have a passionate workforce. Among other methods to enhance workplace culture, fostering creativity is a proven way to get the desired result. Keeping up with information technology and training employees is another wise practice.

Culture is not solely dependent upon the leader, though. It takes a village, as they say, and employees have just as much at stake in contributing to it. An employee can easily choose to find at least one aspect of the workplace favorable, and build upon that aspect. It is our responsibility as leaders and workers to choose happiness where we can.

So what does all this mean to you? The answer is simple: find something small each day to be passionate about in your work or workplace. Whether it is a particular client that makes you smile, an employee that exceeds expectation, or the view from your office window, build upon that morsel. Keep employees up to date on their training (we can help with that at Interpreter Education Online), and find something to appreciate each day! For more information or to share your thoughts, visit our Facebook and LinkedIn pages today!

Learn as You Go

There is a certain point we reach in our lives when we think to ourselves, “hooray, I’m finished with school!” It may be true for some people, that after high school or college, education is not thought about again. But for the vast majority of us, regardless of our career fields, continuing education is a necessary element of productivity. According to Reference for Business, “Employers depend on continuing education as a tool for ensuring a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce. Individuals use continuing education for upward career mobility, job enhancement and personal enrichment.”

In short, continuing to learn after required schooling is not only a current business trend, it is a forward thinking way of life.

There are many reasons for seeking further education past high school or college. Many skill sets are not taught in schools, but are required for jobs. Much can be learned through hands on experience, but that experience opens doors to new questions and learning opportunities. Continuing education is also an effective way to increase focus, performance ability, and mental well being.

Many fields actually ask employees to maintain education in order to stay in their jobs. The healthcare industry is a prime example. Standards of practice and medical procedure must advance with the times to ensure all professionals in the industry are giving first rate care to patients. As we grow and change throughout life, so must our knowledge base.

And, as we have said many times before, we live in a technological era. New inventions and apps are being released daily. No schooling can prepare and train people for advances as they come along. It is the responsibility of not only a company or organization, but also the individuals, to further the educational process and help every industry to grow. Interpreter Education Online offers many courses for continuing education requirements, as well as courses for new interpreters and language testing for organizations. What will you do to ensure your future is full of knowledge? After all, knowledge is power! Join the conversation on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Rise of the Interpreter

It’s a new year and a good time to look at what is trending in the job market. Whether you are looking for a language service provider or you are looking to become an interpreter, the language service industry is all the buzz. This week, The DC posted an article about immigration escalation and projections. The amount of foreign born people in the US from 1880 – 1970 increased by only 40%, while the amount from 1970-2060 will have increased by 715%! That is a jaw dropping number, and a good indicator that language services will continue to grow as the country does.

The industry on a whole is in a massive state of expansion. Technological advances make language services more accessible, and therefore businesses are starting to utilize them more. Interpreters and translators are among the fastest growing career paths in the country and that is predicted to continue at least for the next decade.

What does this mean to you? If you’re already an interpreter, it means work towards certification and maintaining your certification! If you’re a decision maker in a company, big or small, it means now is the time to enlist the help of these service providers to ensure your business stays on top of the game. It also means utilize and train those in your staff who may by multilingual. If you are an individual looking to get into the industry, it means taking the leap now. According to, the expansion of cognitive and life skills is only one of many reasons to learn new languages.

The benefits of being part of the language service industry, in whatever way you can, are clear, and will only continue to remain so. At Interpreter Education Online, we encourage the growth of the individuals and the organizations looking to get the most out of interpreting by offering a wide array of courses and testing catered to your needs. Connect with us on LinkedIn and Facebook today, and visit our website to get started!

Be the Change

The end of a year always brings with it a mixed bag of emotions. There is the gratitude for that which we have learned and gained. There is sadness for that which has been lost. There is hope for what is to be. It is a time of celebration, reflection, and overcoming. This year there have been many memorable moments for us here at Interpreter Education Online, as a company and as members of the human race. Some were wonderful and some were not. This year saw the welcoming of a new course administrator and a new presence in the language services community. The year also brought into question the basic rights of refugees and immigrants. We look back at what we have done, what we could do, what we will do, and what we know we are powerless to.

We want to hear from you, the community. We’re answering these three candid questions below, and ask you to join in on our social media platforms with your own answers!

  1. What challenges were faced this year that were more daunting than those of years past?

Our Answer: Technological advances both challenge and help what we do and how we do it. While technology advanced last year and the years before (and will continue to), its common use creates a new daily standard in the industry.

  1. What was your proudest personal achievement of the year?

Our Answer (from Bailey, our Course Administrator): For me, joining a team of people so skilled in their arena and being able to learn immensely from them was a huge gift. I have many accomplishments in my history, but they are in a different profession. The opportunity to see things as a newcomer, soaking in every word and nuance, and learning to understand something at once foreign to me, was not only an achievement, but an honor.

  1. What do you hope the New Year will bring?

Our Answer: We plan to develop more courses and more testing options in 2016. We also hope that more and more organizations and individuals will enlist our services, of course (shameless plug), but we also hope that tolerance will be taught. The world cannot be changed overnight, and our ancestors have been trying to initiate proper change since the dawn of time. But we can teach tolerance each and every day, individually, in our interactions with others. The change has to start with us: tolerance, appreciation, and unity are our goals for 2016.

So take a chance. Put yourself out there. Answer these three questions in the comments on our website, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages, and help be part of the change you wish to see in the world!

Put it in a Jar

We do it every year: make a New Year’s resolution that just fizzles out somewhere along the way. We get pumped up about making a huge (or even minor) life change, set our sights on it momentarily, and then seem to either forget about it or give up once the moment passes. Sound familiar? So this season, try something new. Rather than making “resolutions”, make “rememberlutions”, as Buzzfeed calls it. The idea is to fill a jar with your most memorable moments and achievements from the year. It’s creative, productive, and as science is discovering, healthy!

That’s right. According to Emotionally Resilient Living, “Acknowledging your achievements, even in a small way, increases positive emotions such as self-respect, happiness, and confidence.” When you take even a brief second to recognize that you have achieved a goal, no matter how large or small, you are acknowledging your own creativity and ability to succeed. The positive thinking that follows this tiny adjustment goes a long way towards sustaining your mental and physical health.

The Huffington Post says that in addition to a healthier outlook and more goal-oriented perspective, “the biggest benefit that positive emotions provide is an enhanced ability to build skills and develop resources for use later in life.” How about that? Changing your thought process from negative to positive can actually enhance your skillsets!

Research shows that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them. Only 8%! There are many reasons behind why so many fail to meet their goals, but it seems that consistently working towards goals rather than making lofty “wishes” in a dark and gloomy month is a solid way to go.

As you celebrate the holidays and reflect on the year that has been, remember to recognize your achievements. As you look on the year ahead, think about starting a jar of achievements and memories. You’ll be amazed when you open it this time next year! And as you start setting attainable goals for yourself, remember that Interpreter Education Online offers interpreting courses on your schedule, and at your price! Until December 31st, if you purchase 3 Single Topic Unit courses without instructor evaluation, you will get a fourth free! Leave your comments on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Define Success

Success is a very challenging word to actually define. Albert Einstein said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” George S. Patton defined it as “how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” And Winston Churchill’s definition stands out as a favorite: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

But what does that word mean to you? A popular motivational site has given us 20 new definitions of success, including “Success is understanding you cannot keep what you don’t give away”, “Success is believing you can”, and our favorite, “Success is understanding the difference between need and want”. Even the Business Insider, which publishes many stories on the subject, has a staff with differing definitions. They’ve released an article which includes 9 very “successful” people’s definitions of the word. Everyone from the Harvard Business Review to individual bloggers like Marie Forleo continues to define and re-define the word.

So what does it mean to you? That’s the bottom line. We all are raised with a different idea of what it means to really “make it” in the world. Rarely do we find our childhood aspirations are the reality of our adulthood. Should that be followed with disappointment or self-loathing? That depends on how you measure your own accomplishments. Does being successful mean being rich? Or does the richness of your life itself count as success? Does owning a corporation and a private jet mean you have arrived? Or does raising a family hold an equal value?

When we change our own view of what success is, we allow ourselves to follow things in life that enrich us, fulfill us, and result in a personal success that cannot be defined. At Interpreter Education Online, we believe in the self-starter, in the businesses that want to use outside the box thinking for comprehensive training of their employees, and in the success of achieving personal goals. It’s why we offer courses that are available on your time, with your needs in mind. Take a moment this holiday to think about your definition of success, and if it may need tweaking. And remember to visit our website, LinkedIn page, and Facebook page for special holiday deals and to leave your thoughts and comments about success to motivate others!

Hiring in a New Era

We’ve talked a lot about the myriad of changes that have been made in society in the past few years. Technology continues to evolve, requiring businesses to do the same. Old practices are becoming passe and new traditions are being made daily. As a business owner or HR executive, what are you doing to ensure you are building the right team for the future of your company? On the flip side, as a job seeker, what should you consider?

Here are some helpful hints we’ve found:

1. Hiring based on a college degree or GPA is no longer as important as it once was. Google, one of the world’s most admired companies, is the leader in this trend. There are many reasons behind this strategy, but one example is the real life versus school life mentality. So when you are posting your next job opening or applying to one, think if a degree is as important as real world experience.

2. Hiring individuals who possess a strong creative side is proving favorable over a strong academic founding. Why? According to CareeRealism, creativity allows for new perspectives when approaching problems and their solutions. A creative mindset can often bring a fresh thought process to any team, and that can lead to moving in successful new directions.

3. Hiring based on skills and knowledge may not be enough to decide who the right candidate is. LinkedIn includes two areas of equal importance when evaluating potential employees: Personality Characteristics and Motivation. While skills and knowledge are necessary for the position, they can often be learned with proper training. Many organizations, like Interpreter Education Online, exist just for the purpose of furthering professional education. Motivation and personality characteristics are more deeply rooted, and can tell you more about a candidate than their skillsets. Advice to job seekers: let your personality shine.

These are the top three trends we found. Do you have any helpful tips from your hiring process? Post comments and insights on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages!




As we head into the holiday season, we would like to take a moment to express our gratitude. Our students and instructors, supporters and readers, friends and family, we are grateful for all of you. In a time where so much is in turmoil internationally, it is important for us to remember and express our gratitude. Thank you! Have a happy holiday!


Education in an Electronic Age

There is no doubt that we are living in the age of technology and gadgets. Every time you turn around, a new item is available to make life “easier”. It’s gotten to a point that we are expected to be familiar with and to own many of these things, like smart phones, tablets, social media, GPS systems, and more, if we want to be a working part of society. Even those of us who have been resistant to the change are starting to bite the bullet and take our first steps into technology. We see the change happening in every industry. In Medical Interpreting, for example, many hospitals and care facilities are embracing video remote interpreting (VRI) in addition to on site. In the automotive industry, autonomous vehicles are just around the corner. So with all this change and all these new things, how is anyone to keep up?

Modern businesses deal with a similar dilemma. Employees need knowledge on products and systems in order to help the company grow. Industries can use these technological advances to increase their bottom line, but only if they have employees that know how to use them. What are these companies, and us, the public, to do? Enter electronic learning, or e-learning.

E-learning has become the fastest growing form of training for corporations. From classrooms to boardrooms, e-learning companies and products are pumping out high quality training at a fast rate. Initial and ongoing education is much more accessible this way, and available at any time, on any schedule. E-learning courses can be created on any topic at all, and can be offered at affordable rates. This makes the educational process not only easier for everyone involved, but desired by any involved. Its scope and capability are boundless, as anything that wants to hold up to the future needs to be.

What does this mean for you as a working professional or business owner? It means there is no time like the present to take inventory of where you are in regards to where you want to be. Are you achieving the success rate you set for yourself or your company? Are you keeping your company or skills on the forefront of modern technology? If not, how can you get there? Let Interpreter Education Online get you started on the right path today. We offer courses for interpreters, translators, and corporations that will get and keep you up to speed. Start on the right track today by visiting our course links and posting or commenting on our Facebook and LinkedIn Pages!

Communication in the Age of the Acronym

Ask any successful business person what the key is to maintaining success and you’ll be told: Communication. We’ve heard this a thousand times, haven’t we? And of course we all know the basics of communication. But times are changing and we are living in a technological era. Most of our conversations are had over text, email, messenger, etc. We rarely pick up the phone and have long conversations anymore. Full words have been replaced with acronyms. Communication has gone from full thoughts to mere letters to imply thoughts.
Where does that leave us in the business world when trying to communicate successfully?
Most of the miscommunication in the workplace comes from the misinterpretation of meaning. In an email, we can only read words, statements, sentences. We are not able to read vocal inflection or intent of the sender. Likewise, when we send emails, we are sending words, sentences, statements. We are not able to send our intent or tone.
Here are some helpful tips to keeping communication open and maintaining happy business relationships. First, take a breath before reading emails. So often, we open mail in the midst of some busy moment and we are already multitasking and preoccupied. Taking a moment to breathe before each email clears our minds of the myriad of things we may feel before even looking at the first word. Second, take a moment before replying. Make sure any reaction you have to an email or message is a reaction based on fact, not based on what you think the email implies. Third, and most importantly, read your emails twice before hitting send. Make sure your intent is coming across as clearly as possible. Be sure that you clear up any language that may come across as harsh to someone who will not be hearing how you’re saying what you’re saying.
Communication is a critical element in business and in life. When all else fails, go back to the cardinal rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. This week, take a look through some of your email exchanges to see where you could have changed wording or taken something a different way. How can you improve communication in the future? Training yourself to be the most successful professional you can be never stops. Please share your thoughts with us on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Where Does the Time Go?

That’s a question we ask ourselves daily. Do you wake up each day with a feeling of being able to accomplish the difficult tasks set in place for you? We certainly all hope to start our days that way. But how often do we find ourselves getting ready for bed at night and wondering, “Where did my day go?” Time management is one of the most evasive practices in any industry. The desire to achieve all that is in store for us and the reality of what can be done, don’t always merge into one. So what can you do to more effectively manage your time and make the most of each day? So many lists of how to properly manage your time are in print, on the internet and flooding social media. We’re even giving you links to some of them in this article! No single technique works for everyone. At Interpreter Education Online, we like to practice The Three A’s: Assess, Adjust, Accept.

Assess your day before you start. Make mental notes of the tasks at hand, the resources with which you have to accomplish each task, and the reality of your abilities within the limitations. Assessing your daily schedule gives you the opportunity to step back and see the big picture before over committing and setting unobtainable goals.

Change is natural. Adjusting to change is where we often find ourselves in a tough situation. You have to be prepared for changes, and be willing to adjust to them. Adjusting does not mean being unfaithful to your goal, it just means taking control of each situation and allowing reality and the ideal to merge. When our plans change, or something isn’t going as we expected it to, is when we tend to lose the most time. Prioritize the key elements of any task and trim the edges to allow for change.

Acceptance is the underlining key to time management. When we accept that things will rarely ever go according to plan, that our abilities are not always given enough room or breath, and that each new day brings new opportunities to learn and grow, we make room for peace of mind. At the end of the day, time management means not only achieving more, but also peace of mind and the freedom to enjoy the little things in life. Are you practicing these three techniques? Start implementing The Three A’s today, to save yourself time and energy and to give yourself more time to accomplish your training goals!

The Bottom Line – Hiring Interpreters

The demand for Interpreters in the medical and legal fields is on a massive rise. It is predicted that in some areas of the US, we will see a nearly 50% increase in the need for interpreters. As the need for interpreters grows, so does the education, awareness, and qualification process. Colleges are offering interpretation as a major; interpreter training seminars are available online and locally in many places; and technology is enhancing every day to ensure the language needs of this century are met.

So with this increase, what is the bottom line for hiring interpreters? While in the vast majority of states the medical and legal fields do not currently require certification for hiring, it seems that they might in the near future. Miscommunication in a legal or medical encounter can lead to lives lost, people wrongly imprisoned, and unlawful deportation. With such critical circumstances, each organization needs to take the utmost care in hiring the best interpreters they can; hence the growing demand for certification.

Certification is the best way to ensure the quality of interpreters any organization hires is tested rigorously and approved. So why are so many interpreters and companies hesitant to go after the certification? Lack of requirement is one reason that holds people back from making the commitment. Cost, length of training, and fear of not achieving, are other reasons. These are the same reasons many people do not go into the rewarding careers that could change the world; astronauts, doctors, scientists. At the end of the day, the time, money, and energy spent to achieve a worthy goal are merely necessary steps on the ladder of success.

If you’re an interpreter or an organization that works with interpreters, start getting ready for the certification exams now! There is no time like the present. It will only help ensure better and safer communication in the future. Not sure where to start? Let Interpreter Education Online help you with Interpreter Assessment Testing, Language Proficiency Testing, Prep Courses for certification exams and more. Visit our website, and please share your thoughts with us on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

The Debate Over Understanding

Lately there has been a lot of debate over translating Shakespeare’s work from his style of English to contemporary English. The contention is that Shakespeare doesn’t need interpreting. Isn’t the first canon of any interpreter to accurately render the message from one language to another without adding omitting or changing any of the content of the message? Which begs the question: What exactly is interpreting? What remains true for all interpreters is that when speaking for another person, we speak in first person. We essentially experience what the person for whom we are interpreting is describing. In a way, it makes the two worlds, acting and interpreting, very similar. An actor interprets, in first person, the words of a character, created by a playwright, but the actor adds his or her own bit of personal story to it. And don’t we do that as interpreters? Of course we remain professional and we maintain ethical boundaries, but a part of us feels the story we are telling.
So what is the debate really about? And how does it relate to what we do? It comes down to a matter of universal versus personal circumstances. In each industry, actors and interpreters are called upon to properly portray the meaning, purpose and intent of the person or character. Acting will never mean the difference between life and death, but all the same, one word changes the context of an entire paragraph. One word changes the context of an entire line of thought and can mean the difference between sick/healthy, or imprisoned/free!
So looking forward, will you be interpreting for an expert witness? What if you’re in the emergency room interpreting? Political negotiations? End of life discussions? Have you considered all complications you may encounter? How can we, as interpreters, ensure that we are telling the proper story? It starts with education, and continuing that education as the times change. What can you do this weekend to ensure you are accurately bringing understanding, skills and training to everything you do? Let us know what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and how others can do it too! Post your comments on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

What Does Accreditation Mean to You?

What does accreditation mean to an interpreter education program? Interpreters must spend a lot of time, energy, and money in order to become certified. Certification allows for more job opportunities and life experience. If certification can be such a game changer for interpreters, shouldn’t educational systems strive for the same goal? In our opinion, being accredited by Certification organizations means something great. It means we can ensure that our services are indeed helping interpreters gain and retain their certification. Being able to provide Interpreters with accredited training allows the educational organization to offer more than just training. It means we can offer a few small things that every working person needs: peace of mind, confidence, and the feeling of accomplishment.
Did you know that out of all the training organizations for interpreters, only four are accredited by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters? Interpreter Education Online is thrilled to be one of those organizations.
In this era, people of all cultures and languages reside in the same places. At some point or another, everyone needs medical attention. Ensuring that we do our part to help bridge the gap between language barriers in healthcare settings is one of the main reasons we became accredited and strive to always be. This article is not about boasting, it is an encouragement to every training organization to do the tough work that gets the accreditation. Because, like the professionals who utilize our services, we also enjoy: peace of mind, confidence, and the feeling of accomplishment. Don’t you?

This weekend and coming week, try to find some unique ways to improve your business or skills. And let us know what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and how others can do it too! Post your comments on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Instant Celebrity

In the past week, the Pope’s visit to the U.S. and other areas has of course made headlines. As popular as he may be, however, the apparent star of the show is the Pope’s charismatic interpreter, Monsignor Mark Miles. Twitter and other social media is a buzz with comments about Monsignor Miles, and for good reason. In an age where LOL and IDK are common forms of speaking, the attention to the beauty of language is a welcome addition to the headlines.

As the interpreter for the Pope’s star continues to go strong, other recent or fairly recent interpreters who have gained a social media following are being rejuvenated. Take former Mayor of New York’s passionate Lydia Callis, for instance. Hers is still a household name for her on point interpreting during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Lately, her articles and updates have resurfaced. She is using her abilities and contacts to the advantage of the hearing impaired community, and bringing awareness to the interpreting community.

And what about Jonathan Lamberton, the certified interpreter who garnered all the attention during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press conference about a possible Ebola outbreak? His interpreting sent the twitter feeds flying, when people had a difficult time grasping why the ASL interpreter was signing with someone in the audience. Jonathan has been using his celebrity to bring awareness to the field as well.

So what does this mean? Our technology age brings about the need for celebrity in all forms. Fifteen seconds of fame lasts a lot longer than its name suggests. Will this fad continue? And will the outcome be more international focus on the interpreting community? We want to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts on the rise of celebrity in the interpreting community and what that means for the future of language and interpreters! Post your comments on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Interpreters Take the Stage

As long as there has been language, there has been theatre. Ancient rituals were the first to introduce the idea of theatre as interpretation, when they acted scenarios out in order to communicate stories of folklore. The practice followed through Ancient Greece and early Christianity. Works from these eras still exist today, and there has been a longstanding need for interpreters to keep these classic works in current languages.

The need and demand for ASL interpreters in theatre is constantly changing as art and culture advance. Works from the past will always need new translations, but what about the work of today? Simultaneous interpretation can be found at most live theatre events, but no longer just to the side of the stage. Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles has been redefining interpretation in theatre for years. Well known for their Tony nominated revival of Big River, the company also revived Spring Awakening last year. Director Michael Arden said of the production, “I’d like people to have a bit more knowledge about deaf culture and ASL as a language. Specifically, how art and theatre can break barriers. Working with both deaf and hearing people makes the show in a sense, bilingual. It forces us to come together.”

Deaf West’s productions feature interpreters and actors working side by side together onstage, singing, dancing, acting and signing. As we continue to move forward as a culture, language remains a currently changing industry. Just think, the first deaf school in the US was established in 1817 and now ASL is the 4th most spoken language in the country! With all the industry-to-industry crossover, the options for interpreters and potential interpreters are truly endless.

Like what you read? Have something to contribute? Post your comments on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

The Impact of Interpreters & Translators on the World

At Interpreter Education Online, students are taught that when facilitating communication between speakers of different languages, the primary task of the interpreter is to remain a neutral party and repeat only what is said, without omitting or adding information. Likewise, a translator’s duty is to impartially convey meaning from one language into another. While it might seem that interpreters and translators lack influence, history has shown otherwise. Here are a few examples that illustrate how interpreters and translators have made an impact on a global and historic scale.

The Renaissance – Spanning from the 14th to the 17th century, this cultural and intellectual movement transformed the Western world. Starting in Italy, and then spreading to the rest of Europe, an influx of new artistic, social, philosophical, and scientific thought helped bring Western Civilization out of the Dark Ages. However, this flourishing of ideas would not have been possible without the translation of Greek and Latin texts and interpreting them for speakers of other languages.


The European Discovery of the New World – In 1492, Christopher Columbus’s landing in the Bahamas changed the world forever. It helped establish trade routes between North America and Europe and ushered in a new age of voyage and discovery. Columbus brought Luis De Torres, an interpreter, with him during his first voyage. Unfortunately, De Torres’s proficiency in Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, Portuguese, and Spanish was of little use in communicating with the natives. As a result, at the end of his first voyage, Columbus brought back native Indians with him to Spain, where they were taught Spanish so they could be used as interpreters in subsequent trips. Thus, if it were not for these interpreters, Columbus’s voyage to the New World would have been fruitless.

New World

The Nuremberg Trials – From 1945 to 1946, an International Military Tribunal was conducted in the German city of Nuremberg to try leading Nazi war criminals. The trials were crucial because they established the precedent that individual leaders and administrators, not only countries, could be held accountable by the international community for actions that violated universal standards of conduct. Furthermore, the trials helped lay the foundation of the legal principals and procedures that serve as the basis for the modern international law. This event also marked the first time that simultaneous interpreting was used on the world stage. Thanks to the work of interpreters who overcame tremendous linguistic hurdles and technical obstacles, the international community was able to bring justice to the millions of victims of World War II.

Nurembeg Interpreter 2

The Growth of the Internet – With information being available at the speed of light from virtually anywhere on the planet, the Internet has brought the world together like no other technological advancement before it. Nevertheless, this unification of humanity never would have occurred had the language barrier not been crossed. Until roughly the late 1990’s, the vast majority of content on the Web was in English. Now, web pages are available in hundreds of languages and Chinese will soon replace English as the most used language on the Internet. The spread and popularity of the internet is due to the diversity and number of languages that it is now available in. Through crowdsourcing, web localization, and the development of translation software, translators have helped the Internet become what it is today.


Do you know of any other examples of interpreters and translators impacting the world? Share your comments with us on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages!

Myths About Interpreting

As interpreters, you’re probably familiar with the following myths, however, some may catch you by surprise. If you have a myth about interpreting you’d like to add to this list, share it on our Facebook page!


1.) “Any bilingual speaker can be an interpreter.”

This is the most common misconception that non-interpreters have. Sure, you might know how to ask, “Where is the bathroom?”, but are you familiar with complex legal and medical terminology in that language as well? Does simply speaking another language make you aware of different interpreter codes of ethics and how to react in certain scenarios?


2.) “Being an interpreter is easy.”

Guess again. Can you simultaneously interpret a U.N. Speech at 150 words per minute without any errors? Would you be able to keep your emotions in check when interpreting for a family whose young child has just died? Do you think you’d be able to pass a court or medical interpreter certification exam with ease?


3.) “Interpreters don’t require much training.”

Not true. Every profession requires training, and interpreting is no different. Nobody is born equipped with a list of court interpreter or medical interpreter ethics. Likewise, most people don’t have the mental juggling ability or note-taking skills that interpreters need. These are techniques that must be learned and perfected throughout an interpreter’s career.


4.) “Interpreters are not affected by what they interpret.”

Known as vicarious trauma, interpreters can actually change over time as a result of witnessing the suffering and pain of others. If interpreters aren’t careful, they can experience an emotional breakdown.


5.) “Interpreting can’t be made into a real career.”

False. According to the Department of Labor, interpreting is one of the fastest growing fields and will remain so for many years to come. Training and certification, along with standardization of the profession, will help interpreters working in many languages to find stable, full-time opportunities as freelancers or employees in healthcare, law, business and other fields.

Court Interpreter Certification

Although not every state requires its courts to use certified interpreters, getting certified is becoming an increasingly prudent step in a court interpreter’s career. Certification not only makes interpreters more sought-after and credible, but recent amendments to state courts’ legislation have also been making certified interpreters the preferred choice of courts.

The amendments made to the Florida Rules for Certification and Regulation of Court Interpreters in March of last year serve as a good example. It was then that the “certified interpreter designation” was established as the “preferred designation when selecting court-appointed interpreters, arranging for contractual interpreter services, and making staff hiring decisions.” The same rule was implemented by the Michigan courts in 2013. It says that, “whenever practicable,” the court shall appoint a certified foreign language interpreter.

Certified court interpreters also benefit by being listed in their states’ online interpreter registries, which make the interpreters more visible and accessible to potential clients.

But before one can enjoy the benefits of being certified, they must first pass a court certification exam.

Not all states require court interpreters to undergo training before taking the certification exam. However, statistics from the California courts indicate that 92% of those who passed the oral certification exam had completed interpreter training prior to taking the test.

IEO’s Preparatory Course for the Court Certification Exam is ideal for any interpreter who plans on taking their state’s court certification exam. The course prepares for both the written and oral portions of the exam and is language specific.

Begin your training today and take the first step in becoming a certified court interpreter!

When Interpreters Cross The Line

Whether you’re a court or medical interpreter, the consequences of unethical behavior can be very serious, not to mention costly. For example, an interpreter who doesn’t follow the protocols and standards of their profession can risk ruining their career and force a hospital or court to spend additional resources finding another interpreter. This, in turn, can hinder an LEP individual from receiving meaningful access to quality healthcare or the justice system.

Nonetheless, and unfortunately, ethical violations still occur. These instances raise concerns about the rigidity of the qualifications for becoming an interpreter and perhaps point to certification as a requirement in the future.

Here are some recent examples of unethical interpreters:

– In May of this year, a Louisiana interpreter was indicted on five counts of wire fraud. The interpreter was accused of contacting clients of the Public Defender’s Office and getting them to make illegal payments to her by saying they would be deported if they did not.

– An Australian interpreter admitted to influencing a voter to vote for a particular candidate. However, the criminal charge against the interpreter was later dismissed because they were not an election official and, thus, not subject to the penalties.

– In Washington, an interpreter was charged with felony theft for defrauding the state. According to court papers, the interpreter overbilled the state for mileage and appointments that never happened.

There are many resources available to help interpreters become acquainted with or maintain the ethical codes of conduct. Ethics courses are available for both court interpreters and medical interpreters that contain the standards and protocols of each profession. These courses contain hypothetical scenarios that challenge an interpreter’s knowledge of the various ethical canons and present solutions to dilemmas that interpreters commonly encounter in the field.

Likewise, training guides for court and medical interpreters are also available so that the code of ethics can easily be referred to when interpreters are on assignments.

Interpreters who follow the code of ethics not only uphold high standards of professionalism, but they also help improve the quality and consistency of the interpreting profession.

Types of People You’ll Meet At Interpreters & Translators Conferences

One of the fun things about attending a conference is meeting lots of interesting people. They come from all over the globe, speak many different languages, and have unique personalities. Their reasons for being at the conference vary as well.

Check out the list below of the different types of attendees you’ll encounter at a conference. Can you relate to any of them? Let us know on our Facebook page!


The Professional

The Professional

Nobody knows conferences better than the professional interpreter and translator. After all, they’ve been going to conferences for years. They may even be a part of a committee or two. A conference not only allows them to satisfy their continuing education requirements, but they’ll also be able to catch up with colleagues and friends and get updated on the industry.


The Learner

The Learner

Conferences are an information sponge’s dream, and rightfully so! With so many presentations on a wide range of topics, there is plenty to learn. You’ll be able to spot the learner quite easily. Running from session to session so as not to be late for one, the learner can be seen holding a to-go coffee in one hand and a smartphone, notebook, and pen in the other. The learner is a note-taking pro and is never afraid to ask questions.


The Businessperson

The Businessperson
When going to a conference, the goal of the businessperson is simple: to make money. This can be achieved a few ways. They can interact with people whom they can pitch and sell their product to. As a freelancer, they can pass along their resume or business card. The businessperson can also use conferences as an opportunity to establish partnerships and relationships with other businesspeople.


The Intelligence Operative

The Intelligence Operative

Conferences bring all types of language companies together under one roof. Whether they’re selling services, training programs, or software, it’s inevitable that representatives from these companies will be checking out their competition. These intelligence operatives will gather information, even posing as potential customers, by asking questions and collecting a rival’s marketing materials.


The Social Butterfly

The Social Butterfly

What better way to put your charisma on display than at a conference full of people? The social butterfly knows this better than anyone. They’re a networking machine with a gregarious personality that helps them make contacts, acquire leads, and close deals. Warm and friendly, the social butterfly makes great impressions and is hard to forget. They are the ultimate schmoozer.

Upcoming Events

It’s July and that means the weather is getting hot! What better way for interpreters and translators to stay cool (and be cool) than to attend an event?

Check out the list below of some upcoming conferences and seminars. Be sure to click on each organization’s logo for more information.

Have an event that you want us to mention on our events page or social media? Contact us and let us know!


NATI 2015 16th Annual Regional Conference
July 30 – August 1, Bellevue, Nebraska

NATI partial logo

Legal Interpreting Seminar
Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts
July 31 – August 2, Little Rock, Arkansas

2015 RID National Conference
August 8 – 12, New Orleans, Louisiana

Rid logo

9th Annual TAHIT Symposium on Language Access
September 25 – 26, Galveston, Texas


2015 MiTiN Regional Conference on Interpreting and Translation
October 3, Novi, Michigan

Mitin Logo

56th Annual ATA Conference
November 4-7, Miami, Florida

ATA logo


Revolutionary Interpreters

On July 4th, Americans will celebrate the 239th anniversary of their nation’s independence from Great Britain. And like many other historical world events, interpreters were key in making it happen. This is in large part due to the collaboration between the colonies and the native tribes during the revolution, though interpreters for languages such as French and German were also elemental. Here are just a few figures whose interpreting ability aided American independence.

James Dean
As a young man, James Dean (no relation to cinema icon) was sent to live amongst the Oneida, a people of the Iriqouis Confederacy. He quickly and skillfully learned their language, along with other Iriquois tongues, and became an interpreter for the Patriots during the war. He also played a large part in negotiating land deals between the Native Americans and the colonists.

Haym Salomon
Haym Salomon, born in Poland, immigrated to America and worked as a financial broker in New York City while financing the Revolution. He was captured by the British and was pardoned because of his ability to interpret for the German-speaking troops that sided with the British. Ever the Patriot, he used this opportunity to free prisoners captured by the British and persuade  German troops to desert.

John Montour
The son of an interpreter, John Montour carried on his father’s legacy. This was facilitated by the fact that his mother was Delaware, a tribe native to the Delaware Valley. In 1778, Montour lived with the Wyandot in the Sandusky River Valley. Having this connection with the Wyandot allowed the Americans to cross their territory and march against the British in Detroit. His ability to communicate with Native American tribes proved instrumental before, during, and after the revolution, even if his loyalties wavered.

James Lovell
James Lovell was a member of Congress and the Committee of Secret Correspondence, a committee assembled to gain French aid during the revolution. He acted as an interpreter for the French officers arriving in Philadelphia, the seat of the Second Continental Congress.

Alexander Hamilton
Apart from being the Secretary of the Treasury during the Washington administration and decorating the American ten dollar bill, Alexander Hamilton served as George Washington’s French interpreter. With France as an ally, transparent communication was crucial.

Interpreting Jokes

It goes without saying that interpreters have to jump a variety of linguistic hurdles while on assignments, of which some are harder to prepare for than others. Perhaps the most daunting of circumstances for an interpreter is a joke. While jokes can do a lot of good, if misinterpreted they can fall flat, or worse, offend. But there’s a way to go about handling them.

Given that a joke’s humor lies in word play or a cultural reference, interpreting it word for word will likely elicit a lot of head scratching, as this video demonstrates. Instead, an interpreter should determine the purpose of the joke and relay the speaker’s intent to the target language audience. Sometimes, this means explaining what was funny about the joke by quickly providing context. While this strategy may seem to defeat the purpose of a joke, it will help prevent your audience from being confused or insulted. Interpreters must realize that to accept a joke as uninterpretable is not to accept failure.

joke minister

Whether you’re bold enough to try and replicate a joke in another language, or you want to play it safe by explaining the joke and its context, it’s crucial to stay sharp by always improving your vocabulary in your target language. Keep your mind agile by becoming familiar with translations of industry-relevant jargon, commonly-used proverbs, and idiomatic expressions.

At IEO, we want you to have the skills to successfully interpret a joke, not become the punchline of one.

Have you ever had to interpret a joke or get creative during an interpreting assignment in order to explain one? Share your experiences with us on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages!

The Super Interpreter

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… Super Interpreter! Here to save the day by breaking down language barriers, displaying cultural awareness, and upholding interpreter ethics!

Interpreters of the world! Do you have what it takes to be a Super Interpreter? You might be surprised to know that you don’t need washboard abs or the ability to talk to dolphins, but can instead reach superhero-like status with a well-developed skill set and a number of tools

The Super Interpreter is not a costumed do-gooder, but a do-gooder all the same; one that helps people in need without having to leap over buildings in a single bound. They may not don a tool belt, but the Super Interpreter still relies on several tools to help them overcome challenges. In the face of lexical adversity, they can reach for their trusty bilingual dictionary that is stored on their smartphone for quick retrieval of a word. When bombarded with information, the Super Interpreter stays on top of things by taking notes with a pen and paper or on their tablet.

They possess various powers that make for swift interpretation, thanks to an ever-expanding multilingual lexicon and a keen sense of cultural awareness. They can find an idiom’s appropriate equivalent in a target language with unshakeable composure and are capable of switching between each of the three modes of interpreting with the greatest of ease. And what’s more, they do all this while faithfully abiding by the interpreter code of ethics, because every superhero needs a code. And just as they need a code, they need training.

Let IEO help to bring out the Super Interpreter in you by strengthening your skills and showing you how to avoid interpreter kryptonite!

Cape and spandex are optional.

Preparing for the Court Interpreter Written Exam

Thinking about becoming a certified court interpreter? If so, you might be interested to know that the certification test for court interpreters is divided into two parts: an oral and a written portion. You must pass the written exam before you can take the oral part. The written exam for court interpreters is pretty standard from state to state. However, each state has its own set of prerequisites that interpreters must meet before they can take the written exam. For example, some states require that you pay a fee for the written exam while others do not. We recommend that you check your state’s courts website for more information. In addition, you might find it helpful to check out the overview of the written exam.

The written exam is a multiple-choice test that covers ethics, English language proficiency, and court terminology. The test is entirely in English.

To get you ready for the test, IEO offers  Preparatory Course for the Written Exam that includes:

– over 600 questions that test a student’s English proficiency.

– 15 legal glossaries with over 1,000 legal terms and definitions that familiarize students with court terminology.

– videos and chapters illustrating correct interpretation of ethical canons as well as quizzes that measure a student’s knowledge of court interpreter ethics & professional conduct.


Sign up today and be sure to take advantage of this month’s language month promotion!

Another IEO Student Passes a Certification Exam!

Nothing makes us happier than when our students pass certification exams. To show our excitement, we are dedicating this week’s issue of the The IEO Insider to IEO student Sandy Reoma. Sandy is a Cantonese interpreter who took our Preparatory Course for the NBCMI Exam a couple of months ago. Much to our delight, Sandy recently passed the NBCMI certification exam and is now a certified interpreter!

We asked Sandy to tell us about her experience with IEO, her interpreting background, and any advice she would give to those who are wishing to take a certification exam.


Congratulations on passing the NBCMI exam! How did you prepare for the test?

“I reviewed all submitted exercises and comments from the IEO instructor. I also re-did all the interpretation exercises in the program which I didn’t have to submit .”


What made you want to become a certified interpreter?

“The certification enhances my credibility as an interpreter. In addition, I’m able to demonstrate my commitment to being a qualified interpreter.”


What part of your course do you think helped you the most in preparing for the NBCMI exam?

“All the CI and ST exercises.”


What made you want to become an interpreter?

“Being bilingual and having worked in the health care industry for the past 28 years, I think that medical interpretation is a good post retirement ‘job’ which offers flexible schedules and provides an opportunity to keep in touch with this field. In addition, I like to think that this is helping people directly and improving quality of care.”


What do you feel was the most difficult part of the exam?

“The biggest challenge is that we cannot review our answers. Although we can theoretically redo the interpretation of an utterance, we really do not have sufficient time to do so.”


How do you plan on continuing your education and improving your skills?

“I listen to Chinese programs on health and medical issues for the lay community and read Chinese articles on medicine. I take assignments whenever my schedule allows them. I also attend lectures and talks on health issues at the university.”


When you’re not interpreting, what do you like to do?

“I like to knit and travel to visit my family.”


What is your favorite thing about interpreting?

“That I can help patients who are otherwise unable to and/or uncomfortable communicating with the clinicians due to their limited proficiency in English and vice versa.”


For those who are planning on taking the exam in the near future, what is some advice you would give them?

“Take good notes on key points/words that need to be translated and manage time for interpretation. I found that having the examiner repeat the utterance threw me off track resulting in not being able to finish interpretation in the allotted time.”

I feel you: Vicarious trauma and interpreters

Interpreting can be incredibly rewarding work, especially when aiding people at their most vulnerable or in considerably traumatic situations. However, just as the work can be rewarding, it can also take a serious emotional and physiological toll on the interpreter. Because it is the interpreter’s duty to remain calm and neutral while working, it might be hard to believe that they can sometimes be seriously affected by what they are interpreting, but the truth is it’s perfectly normal.woman-1302674_1280

Feelings of depression and/or anxiety brought on by working with traumatized people have been given the name vicarious trauma, or VT. People of varying professions can experience VT, namely social workers, healthcare providers, and therapists, but interpreters are in a position unique to all the rest in that they not only may witness trauma, but also have information passed through them as they interpret for others.

For those that feel the effects of vicarious trauma, it is important to know that these feelings are not unusual or unimportant. In fact, it is healthy to recognize signs of stress and justify them. This, in essence, means that it’s OK to see VT as a common side effect of being a committed and skilled interpreter. Nevertheless, it should never be ignored.

Recommendations for ameliorating VT include: engaging in relaxing activities, finding an outlet (sometimes through art) for your feelings, and even taking a break from work. More on coping with stress and taking care of your body is covered in IEO’s Comprehensive Healthcare Interpreter Training Program and Preparatory Course for the Court Certification Exam.

Have you ever experienced vicarious trauma as an interpreter? What did you do to cope with VT? Share your experiences on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages!

Cultural Awareness

In addition to breaking down linguistic barriers, medical interpreters are tasked with eliminating cultural ones as well. The misinterpretation of a message can hinder communication between people. Likewise, a cultural misunderstanding between speakers can be detrimental if an interpreter is not familiar with, or is unavailable to explain, cultural norms.

One example that shows the importance of having a culturally-aware interpreter was in a case where an Iraqi woman was complaining of having constant pain in her stomach and “heaviness” in her head. Doctors were later able to determine that the woman needed a visit to a psychiatrist. The woman was strongly against a psychiatric evaluation because, thanks to her interpreter’s explanation, there is a negative stigma associated with mental illness in her culture.

“The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” illustrates another example of the importance of using culturally-competent interpreters. In the book, author Anne Fadiman describes how a Hmong refugee family did not provide their epileptic daughter with the proper dosage of medicine prescribed by doctors to combat her seizures. The family was skeptical of modern medicine and, instead, believed that the seizures were due to the daughter catching a malevolent spirit. The family also relied on ad hoc interpreters instead of qualified medical interpreters. This confusion and misunderstanding between the family and medical providers caused the daughter’s condition to worsen.

It goes without saying that medical interpreters are both message and cultural clarifiers. Being a cultural broker is part of the medical interpreter’s role and they are expected to recognize and clarify cultural misunderstandings. Thus, medical interpreters should not only be experts in words that are being said, but they also must be familiar with the unwritten rules that govern the people who are saying those words.

Upcoming Conferences

Spring is here! What better way to take advantage of the warmer months ahead than by attending a conference or two?

Here’s a list of some upcoming conferences.  Be sure to click on each organization’s logo for more information.

 IMIA International Congress on Medical Interpreting
April 23-26 – Rockville, Maryland


ALC 2015 Annual Conference
May 6-9 – Nashville, Tennessee


NETA 19th Annual Conference
May 9 – Boston/Natick, Massachusetts


NAJIT 36th Annual Conference
May 15-17 – Atlanta, Georgia


NCIHC 9th Annual Membership Meeting 
June 5-6 – Minneapolis, Minnesota 


InterpretAmerica Summit 5
June 12-13 – Monterey, California


2015 RID National Conference
August 8-12 – New Orleans, Louisiana

Have a conference you want added to our events page? Contact us and let us know!

Translator Reactions

We made a post about interpreter reactions a few months back. It’s only fair we did one for translators as well!

Here are some ways translators may react to situations they encounter every day:

When someone calls you an interpreter


When your friends think you live a glamorous translator life


When you attend a conference


When someone says they’ll use an online translator to translate a document


When a client gives you a 40,000 word project and they want it the next day


When you submit a project 1 minute before the deadline


When your CAT tool keeps crashing


When you take on more projects than you can handle


When a proofreader doesn’t agree with your translation


When you turn in a project early and don’t have to work the weekend


When you meet a fellow translator


When you tell someone that you’re certified


When you’re asked to translate a piece of literature

Interpreter & Translator Film Parodies: Part III

Since releasing our first and second installments of interpreter and translator film parodies, we’ve constantly been asked when we were going to make a third.

Well, here it is!

So, sit back, relax, grab some popcorn, or even a glossary, and enjoy these titles!


50 first projects

50 First Projects
Henry Roth is a man afraid of accepting translation assignments. But all that changes when he meets a beautiful project manager named Lucy. They hit it off and Henry think he’s finally found the project manager of his dreams, until he discovers she has short-term memory loss and forgets about sending him projects the very next day.



When Elsa, a newly certified interpreter, can’t think of the right word and freezes while at an interpreting assignment, her sister, Anna, teams up with a mountain man, his playful reindeer, and a snowman to find Elsa the perfect dictionary.


Hard Target Language

Hard Target Language
A woman hires Chance Boudreaux, a Cajun French speaker, as her interpreter to help guide her through New Orleans. However, Chance soon discovers that interpreting into English isn’t as easy as he thought.



Interpreter Speed
A young simultaneous interpreter must prevent a bomb from exploding aboard a city bus by keeping his interpreting speed above 120 words per minute.


The Dependables

The Dependables
A group of elite interpreters and translators are called upon to take on a project that nobody else can do. Once the project begins, they realize things aren’t quite as they appear, finding themselves caught in a dangerous web of ethics violations and mistranslations. With their mission thwarted and the quality of the project in danger, the men struggle with an even tougher challenge, slang, which threatens to destroy this band of linguists.

What to Expect After Becoming Certified

So, you go on to take a certification exam that you diligently prepared for. As a result of your hard work, you pass the exam and you become a certified interpreter! But if you think that a piece of paper and a new credential to add to your résumé are the only things you gain from becoming certified, you are mistaken.

Among other things, newly certified interpreters can look forward to more career opportunities, increased confidence, and job security.

Don’t just take our word for it. Read what our instructors have to say about what they experienced after becoming certified:


State court certification had tremendous impact on my work. Within about a year since my name appeared on PA court interpreter roster, the number of calls from the courts and agencies tripled. I was able to negotiate a much better rate and my professional confidence had a boost. I no longer needed anyone’s reference, to confirm my level of professional skill – I had an objective parameter showing it to anyone who was looking for language services.”

Natalia Petrova, Certified Russian Court Interpreter & CMI™


Certification has definitely helped me gain more confidence in my skills and motivated me to further craft my skills through practice and continuing education.”

Dong Ibister, Mandarin CHI™


Interpreting was not planned as a career but rather as a way to keep the mind active and make use of the languages that had served me so well in the international business world. Once it became mandatory for courtroom interpreting it was a natural progression to obtain certification in the languages offered. With Portuguese, there was virtually no one certified for a number years, so exclusivity was most beneficial (and profitable). This provided many opportunities and contacts throughout the legal services field upon which the subsequent certification in Spanish, a much more competitive field, would also benefit. My recommendation? Don’t settle for only one language certification; two or more is always best. However, should you decide on just one, make sure that there’s a market for it and find the niche it fits best into.”

Richard Lankenau, Certified Portuguese & Spanish Court Interpreter


Passing the exam validated my skills and brought many direct clients. In retrospect, I think passing the exam also motivated me to study and train harder.”

Irina Jesionowski, Certified Russian Court Interpreter


Being certified not only has given me additional self-confidence in my abilities as an interpreter, it also opened additional paths to educational resources I can utilize throughout my career.”

George Narvaez, Spanish CHI™


When you seriously work toward the goal of certification, you learn how much you don’t know. This realization is humbling and, at the same time, positive. Certification validates how much we know at a given moment in time, but the journey has made us aware that we should constantly strive to improve our skills and increase our knowledge base. Certification is the road to professionalism. Others are relying upon us to be the best we can be.”

Marvyn Tipps, Certified Spanish Court Interpreter, CHI™ & CMI™

Interpreter Education Online Wins 2015 Corp! Magazine 2015 DiSciTech Award for Innovated Online Interpreter Training

Interpreter Education Online (IEO) was awarded Corp! Magazine’s prestigious 2015 DiSciTech Award in the Digital category for its innovative online interpreter training model.

IEO is the first interpreter trainer to receive the award.

The DiSciTech awards are presented to Michigan companies and educational organizations that are leading the way in science, technology and digital initiatives through innovation, research and applied science. IEO’s use of technology allows it to reach students from across the globe. “Our online courses allow anyone with an Internet connection to take part in our training. Furthermore, Skype allows us to administer testing in real time to anyone in the world,” said President Jinny Bromberg.


Jinny Award


This award is a testament to IEO’s dedication to offering quality interpreter training and testing in a variety of languages to a broad demographic.

Since its inception, IEO has been committed to equipping interpreters with the tools necessary for quality language service. Today, IEO is proud to not only work with individual students, but also collaborate with state courts and healthcare organizations to provide quality training and testing to interpreters. IEO also works with Language Service Companies by testing their new applicants and helping companies maintain quality assurance for their clients. As IEO continues to grow, it is determined to ensure that the standards of professional interpretation are consistently upheld by its students.

Founded in 1998, Corp! Magazine informs, intrigues, and entertains business owners and top-level executives by providing features, news, and profiles.   Corp! Magazine’s print edition reaches more than 30,000 business owners, executives, and managers throughout the State of Michigan.

Prerequisites for Taking Certification Exams

Deciding to take a certification exam is a huge leap in any interpreter’s or translator’s career. With this decision comes a lot of excitement and preparation. However, before you think about how difficult the exam will be or how your career will benefit after becoming certified, you should first determine whether you’re eligible to take the exam and how to meet eligibility requirements.

If you’re a legal interpreter who is seeking state certification, find your state court website here. Once on the website, search for the page dedicated to interpreter services and find out what the eligibility requirements are for taking the certification exam. Requirements vary state by state. For example, some states require you to pass an oral proficiency test before taking a certification exam while others do not. To take the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Exam, however, there are currently no specific requirements.

Medical interpreters can be certified through CCHI and NBCMI and each has different prerequisites candidates must meet before they can take a certification exam. Some states, such as Oregon and Washington, offer certification to healthcare interpreters and have their own eligibility requirements as well.

Certification and licensure for ASL interpreters is available through individual states. Each state has different guidelines, so be sure to check your state for more information National certification is available through RID. RID offers different types of certification programs and each program has its own set of eligibility requirements.

In addition to being an ATA member, translators must also meet a list of other eligibility requirements before they can take the ATA certification exam. That list can be found here.

Before applying to take a certification exam, it’s a good idea to make a check list of all the things you must do beforehand. In some cases, you may have to take some training, show proof of language proficiency, or meet other requirements.

Taking Care of Your Voice

Imagine that you’re interpreting at a three-day conference that requires you to perform simultaneous interpretation for long lengths of time. After six hours of interpreting on and off during the first day of the conference, your voice begins to crack. You clear your throat and continue on, but as the day progresses, it gets worse. You wake up the next morning ready to go to work only to find out that your voice has decided to take the day off. You try to produce some sentences, but nothing comes out. Your fear is now realized: you have lost your voice.

Panic sets in. What do you do? How will the conference organizers take the news? How will you even tell them? Do they have a replacement? Will your career be negatively affected by this? How could have this been prevented?

More often than not, interpreters will focus on everything to prepare for an assignment but themselves. As an interpreter, it is your voice that allows people who do not understand each other to communicate effectively. Likewise, it is your voice that allows you to practice a craft that you get paid for. Your livelihood depends on your voice, so why not take care of this important asset?

Here are some things you can do take care of your voice:

1. Do not strain your voice by screaming or shouting.

2. Ask for a microphone if you need to increase the volume of your voice beyond a comfortable level.

3. Try to avoid or minimize factors that negatively affect your voice (smoking, alcohol, lack of sleep,etc.)

4. Drink water so that your vocal cords are moisturized and free of mucus. Avoid carbonated drinks as they tend to cause unwanted side effects such as burping.

5. Maintain your overall health in order to avoid colds and other sicknesses. Get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly. Exercise will not only help you feel better, but it can also strengthen your breathing and, by proxy, your voice, which will allow you to speak longer and help you project your voice to the audience.

6. Interpreters providing whispering simultaneous interpreting sometimes have to go on for long periods, which can strain and irritate the vocal chords. You may want to invest in simultaneous interpreting equipment. Buying a set of one transmitter and one receiver is not too expensive and will help protect your voice.


What are some ways you take care of your voice? Feel free to share your tips on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages!

Free One Year Membership to IEO Plus with Orders of $950 or More!

From now until April 1st, if you make a purchase of $950.00 or more, you’ll get a free one year membership to IEO Plus! An IEO Plus membership is a great way to save money and take advantage of many IEO benefits. As a member, you’ll enjoy 10% off all IEO products, free shipping from our bookstore, free access to courses, and much more!


IEO Plus promo

“I failed the certification exam. Now what do I do?”

One of the most commonly asked questions we receive at Interpreter Education Online is,”I just took the certification exam and failed. Now what do I do?” To answer this, we turned to our Russian interpretation instructor, evaluator, and mentor Irina Jesionowski. Irina, a certified interpreter, has worked with many students who were unable to pass a certification exam the first time and has helped them strengthen their skills so they were better prepared for the test the next time around.


So, you just found out that you failed a certification exam. This is definitely a trying time, but as the saying goes, “success is not built on success; it’s built on failure.” Take this failure as an opportunity to learn how to perform better.


1.  Identify Your Deficiencies   

Your exam evaluation form is a great starting point. Read it carefully and determine which skills and knowledge you are lacking. Most likely, you need to deal with a combination of challenges:

–       Insufficient proficiency in the subject matter, be it law, health care, or   

        international relations – in both of your working languages

–       Insufficient command of your working languages, language A included

–       Inadequate interpretation skills

There are no easy fixes for any of these problems. However, if you don’t know what went wrong and are not willing to be brutally honest with yourself, there will be no progress in your professional development.

Probably the hardest question you need to ask yourself is whether you indeed have the aptitude for this profession. Interpreting is a performing art, and it is perfectly normal that many people are just not born with the ability to acquire interpretation skills. How upset are you with the fact that you are not a consummate violin player or a ballerina? I am not upset at all. Well, maybe just a little bit…     


2. Come up with a Game Plan

In my opinion, the first thing you need to determine is whether you feel confident continuing with self-study and self-training or would you benefit from the help of a competent mentor and a structured training program?

Despite passing three different qualification/certification exams on the first try without completing a single formal educational course in interpreting or working with an instructor, I have grown to treasure both. In fact, every exam, albeit successfully passed, made me acutely aware of the depth of my ignorance and imperfection of my skills. This very experience prompted me to seek opportunities for continuing my education at the postgraduate level and for engaging experts as my private mentors. We don’t know what we don’t know, and we won’t know that until someone points it out to us. Studying under the guidance of qualified specialists will allow you to achieve the required level of competency quicker and easier.

If continuing on your own, you need to set specific training goals and the timeframe for accomplishing them. Identify the best resources for each area you need to improve and use them. For example, if you are preparing for a court interpreting exam, find study books on the U.S. justice system and read them carefully; find corresponding texts in your other working language; research challenging expressions, compile glossaries, and perform terminology drills. If you need to improve your interpretation skills, practice every day – purposely and deliberately. Grit and doggedness are essential for achieving excellence. Find self-assessment tools to monitor your progress.


3. Be Prepared to Repeat All the Above for the Rest of Your Career

In my book, passing a certification exam is not a reason to celebrate. After all, these exams are designed to show that candidates are merely minimally qualified for performing the duty of a language interpreter. The challenges we face in our professional practice far exceed the qualification exams’ level of difficulty. No one in a courtroom speaks at the rate of 120 words per minute and many litigants don’t complete their sentences. The concepts we need to render are much more complex than those included into exam texts. After the initial acquisition of interpretation skills, we need to work hard in order to maintain and perfect them. Languages are constantly evolving, and we have to keep abreast of all new developments. No rest for the weary. But isn’t that what makes our profession so exhilarating?

Happy interpreting!

Irina Jesionowski

Financing is now available for all IEO purchases!

Now when paying for your purchases at IEO with PayPal, you’ll have the option to pay with PayPal Credit (formerly Bill Me Later). PayPal Credit is a line of credit from PayPal that gives you the flexibility to pay for your purchase now, or pay over time. For more information on PayPal Credit, please click here.


Paypal Credit


The option to use PayPal credit will be presented to you at the check out page.

*Please be advised that Interpreter Education Online is not affiliated with PayPal or Paypal Credit. When using Paypal services, you are subject to Paypal’s terms and conditions.

Interpreter Reactions

Here are some ways interpreters may react to situations they encounter every day:

When you forget about an assignment you were supposed to be at five minutes ago
When you find out you passed the certification exam
When you find out you failed the certification exam
When you stay up all night studying terminology for an assignment that’s the next day
When you’re asked to interpret a word you don’t know
When someone calls you a “translator”
When someone tells you that simply being bilingual is enough to be an interpreter
When another interpreter starts talking about a patient’s private information in public
When a nurse or attorney is familiar with the roles of an interpreter and doesn’t ask you to do things that are beyond those roles
When you and your interpreting partner do a great job of simultaneous interpreting at a conference
When someone thanks you for helping them bridge the communication gap

IEO Holiday Sale!

During this time of year, the weather outside can be frightful, but what’s also scary is when certified interpreters find themselves rushing to complete CEU requirements. Interpreter Education Online understands how hectic this time can be, so we’re here to help!

From now until January 9th, when you purchase any 3 courses from this list ,you’ll get a 4th one free *. Courses are available for legal and medical interpreters and are approved by a number of states and organizations for continuing education credit.

Upon successfully completing a course, you will receive your certificate of completion via email so you can process your CEUs quickly without having to wait for a paper copy in the mail.

Not a certified interpreter? No problem! This offer is also a great way for those who are preparing for a certification exam and who need to meet the training requirement. In addition, you can take advantage of the savings now and take your courses later!


*Free course must be taken without instructor evaluation. IEO’s Holiday Sale cannot be combined with any other offers, discounts, or promotions.



IEO Holiday Sale


Translation Tuesday Sale!

On Tuesday,  December 02, get 25 % off everything on our website!


One day only!


Use coupon code translator2014


*IEO’s Translation Tuesday offer cannot be combined with any other offers.


Translation Tuesday

IEO After Thanksgiving Sale!

Starting Black Friday (11/28) through Cyber Monday (12/01), be sure to take advantage of our After Thanksgiving Sale! Get 25% off EVERYTHING at Interpreter Education Online! Choose from a variety of training options, such as courses, books, tests, and Skype lessons. You can even take advantage of the savings and take your training later!

Use coupon code sale2014

*IEO’s After Thanksgiving Sale cannot be combined with any other offers.



Find us at the ATA conference and save 25%!

The American Translators Association (ATA) will be hosting its 55th Annual Conference in Chicago next week. From November 5-8, attendees will be able to connect with over 1,800 colleagues from around the world, share their interests and experiences, and build partnerships. Furthermore, those in attendance can choose from over 175 sessions, learn practical skills and theory, be inspired by new ideas, and join discussions related to the translation and interpretation professions.

IEO Executive Director Jinny Bromberg will also be at the conference, hoping that you’ll run into her! That’s because when you find Jinny and you tell her what you love most about interpreting, you’ll be given a coupon for 25% off EVERYTHING on the IEO website. It’s that easy! What’s more, give Jinny your business card or resume and you’ll be entered to win free access to one of these courses; many of which are approved by several states, ATA, CCHI, and NBCMI for CE credit!

So, when you’re at the ATA conference next week, remember to find Jinny to save money!

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for updates from the conference!


IEO Now Offers Language Proficiency Testing!

Ask any professional interpreter and they will tell you that simply knowing a language isn’t enough to make you an interpreter. For example, an interpreter needs to have other skills, such as note-taking abilities, a strong memory recall, and awareness and understanding of interpreter ethics, just to name a few.

However, the most important ability of an interpreter is their language proficiency. The inability to fully understand a language nullifies the goal of interpretation, which is to convert a message from one language into another. It seems silly, if not frightening, to think that someone who doesn’t understand a language can help another person who doesn’t understand it either. Thus, if an interpreter isn’t fluent in their working languages, how can they expect to successfully bridge a communication gap when they don’t even have the tools needed to build that bridge?

IEO now offers language proficiency tests to interpreters who need to assess their language skills for employment purposes, or who need to provide proof of their language proficiency before taking either the CCHI or NBCMI certification exams. Likewise, language proficiency tests are also available to employers who wish to vet the linguistic abilities of current or prospective employees.

More information on the tests can be found here.

Interpreter Role Boundaries

A challenging yet necessary aspect of being an interpreter is being able to confine yourself within the boundaries of the professional role and refraining from getting personally involved in an interpreting encounter and causing a conflict of interest.

This idea is so important that it’s a canon for both legal and medical interpreters. For example, the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) lists “Limitations of Practice”as one of their canons. Likewise, the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) includes “Role Boundaries”as one of their standards of practice.

Here are some examples of how interpreters can go beyond their role boundaries:

 – disclosing  confidential information  

 – soliciting business from patients

 – helping drivers cheat on driving tests 

 – stealing classified government documents  

 – giving legal advice

Check out the video below to get a better sense of how an interpreter should maintain their professional role:


Do you have any examples or stories of interpreters crossing their ethical boundaries? We’d love to hear them! Share them on our Facebook page!

Columbus Day & Interpreters!

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. But, did you know that,  like many other important historical events, interpreters played a vital role?

In 1492, Christopher Columbus’s landing in the Bahamas changed the world forever. It helped establish trade routes between North America and Europe and ushered in a new age of voyage and discovery. Columbus brought Luis De Torres, an interpreter, with him during his first voyage. De Torres spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Latin, and some Arabic. Because he expected to encounter Asians, Columbus felt De Torres’s proficiency in Hebrew and Aramaic would be particularly useful. However, De Torres’s proficiency in these languages was of little use in communicating with the natives, who spoke an entirely different language. Because of this, Columbus had to rely on indigenous interpreters.

At the end of his first voyage, Columbus brought back native Indians with him to Spain, where they were taught Spanish so they could be used as interpreters in subsequent trips. Upon returning to the New World, the main task of these interpreters was to dissuade Indians from resistance. This, in turn, helped the Spanish spread their influence and consolidate their rule in the Americas.

Thus, if it were not for interpreters, Columbus’s voyage to the New World would have been fruitless and the world we know today would be a completely different place!

How do I become an Interpreter?

In addition to “How do I become a certified interpreter?“, another frequently asked question that we receive is “How do I start as an interpreter?”.

The answer to that question is: ” It depends.”

There is no template for becoming an interpreter because interpreters get their starts in different ways. As a result, how you become an interpreter depends entirely on your personal circumstances and choices.  To give a better idea of how there are different paths to becoming an interpreter, we asked a few of our instructors tell us how they began their interpreting careers:


“I became an interpreter in late 2002 when I came across a volunteer interpreting program at a major academic medical center. I received a 53-hour medical interpreter training sponsored by the hospital covering interpreting skills and medical terminology. Two years later, I was hired as full-time interpreter. Training and experience are two essential skills needed to become a Certified Medical or Healthcare Interpreter. For those lacking interpreting experience, I recommend looking into volunteer or internship opportunities.”

– George Narvaez, Spanish CHI & CMI


“Having had a background in the medical field, interest in offering interpreting services to hospitals and clinics was the first area to come to mind. This was the easiest to get into by volunteering, and it offered a way to be able to advocate for the NES patient. Subsequently, I read an article in a local newspaper about the need for court interpreters.
Court interpreter training was rather cursory so I decided to go assist court sessions personally, and seek out cases involving NES defendants, so as to observe how they were being assisted by an interpreter. After a time, I felt I had the flow of the procedure sufficiently absorbed to venture on to the next step, namely taking an exam for certification.
When you’re starting out, use the ‘broad cast net; approach; working with as many agencies as will sign you up. This will help you circulate and get better acquainted with the market as well as the different ranges of clientele, in both the legal and medical interpreting field.
Finally and foremost, keep an open mind and always be willing to adapt to necessity. It’s the best way to remain relative in an ever changing field of endeavor. And yes, enjoy and have fun at it, too!”

– Richard Lankenau, State of Georgia Certified Court Interpreter in Portuguese & Spanish


“I became interested in healthcare interpreting when trying to use my language and interpreting skills for a part-time job in 2006. I ended up being a full-time interpreter while I was still in graduate school. Being an interpreter does not necessarily guarantee financial stability, but it is very rewarding and eye-opening. It prepares interpreters to overcome challenges professionally and emotionally, helps them develop communication and problem-solving skills, and makes them more appreciative of what they have.”

– Dong Li, Mandarin CHI


How did you get your start as an interpreter? We’d love to hear your story! Share it with us on our Facebook page!

Throwback Thursday – Interpreter Style!

Here’s what interpreting equipment looked like back in the 1930s!

old interpretation equipment










The caption from IBM at 100 ,

In 1931, the IBM-Filene-Finlay translator was permanently installed at the League of Nations in Geneva. There, some speeches were pre-translated and read simultaneously, while others were presented in the native language first, while interpreters took notes. Then one interpreter would give the speech in his own language, while the others simultaneously recited the speech in their languages. The system was modified during the Nuremberg war crime trials of 1946, for true simultaneous interpretation—speakers had to speak slowly, allowing all of the interpreters to speak along with them.”

The Importance of Formatting a Document for Translation

An article from The Dallas Morning News recently examined how the language industry is booming. The article goes on to mention how translator jobs have doubled in the last 10 years. Of course, this is great news for translators!

This boom in the translation business means more words will need to be translated. However, it also means more documents will need to be formatted. Unfortunately, there are many who believe that a translation project simply involves translating words. Seasoned professionals will tell you otherwise. In addition to converting text from one language to another, a translation project also requires good formatting skills.

Formatting a document for translation means successfully replicating how a source document looks. This includes recreating watermarks, inserting borders, superimposing text over images, and reproducing other details.  Knowing how to format a document will give a translator a level of professionalism that will catch the attention of clients and project managers.

Here is what some professional translators and project managers have to say about the importance of formatting a document:

“One of the goals of a perfect translation is for the translated document to resemble the source document as closely as possible, right down to seals, stamps and signatures.  This takes the guess work out of it for the recipient as to what they are looking at.

– Cathy Radloff – Translation Project Manager, Bromberg & Associates


“It is much easier for reviewers and clients to understand a translation if it matches the original. Keeping the formatting the same is also a good way for the translator to make sure nothing has been missed. In the end, good formatting actually saves time for everyone.”

– Denise DeVries – Italian/Spanish/French Translator   


“Formatting any document for translation requires, most importantly, a thorough working comprehension of the languages translated from and into coupled with plenty of patience and careful thought on content placement so as to allow for a rhythmic and sequential ebb and flow that makes sense to the reader.”

– Richard Lankenau – Portuguese/Spanish Translator


“I have benefited a lot from the Formatting course. Although I was familiar with many features, it was very educational for me as a translator and will help me to improve my future work and to keep up with the latest updates in the 2013 Word version.”

– Moheeb Al-Chona – Arabic Translator  


If you’re looking to learn formatting skills that will give you a competitive advantage over other translators, check out IEO’s course “Formatting a Document for Translation“.  This course, offered for the 2007, 2010, and 2013 versions of Microsoft Word, includes video tutorials that will teach you how to achieve the desired look of your translation project. Lessons include: creating a border, modifying fonts, adding a stamp, and more!

Our “Formatting a Document for Translation” course is also approved for 2 continuing education points by the American Translators Association!

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