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What does an audio mixer do?

By Ernest Niño-Murcia

Have you seen posts on social media talking about audio mixers being used with Remote Simultaneous Interpreting platforms? Here’s a simple view of what these nifty devices do. Instead of swapping headphones and earbuds to listen to two different “channels” or audio streams, this mixer allows you to funnel all of those audio streams through one pair of headphones and literally dial in which one, or ones, you want to hear and at what intensity. Take a look at this brief demonstration.

This blog was first published on T.E.A. Language Solutions website. Ernest is one of the speakers at IEO 2nd conference Language Access and the New Reality on December 3-4, 2020. Together with Liz Essary and Janis Palma he will be speaking on the panel “Interpreting 2020: pivoting in the time of quaranteams and doomscrolling”. 

Featured Interpreter: Alessandra Checcarelli

Italian native conference interpreter, translator and respeaker for English, German and French languages, Alessandra has studied in Rome and Munich. She has mainly worked in Europe after obtaining a BA degree in linguistics and cultural mediation in 2007, and an MA degree in conference interpreting in 2010. She is a board member of Association onA.I.R.-Intersteno Italia, the Italian delegate association of Intersteno international federation for information and communication processing.

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

A: I have been a professional interpreter for more than 10 years. I started carrying out  simultaneous interpreting assignments in 2008 on behalf of some voluntary organisations, while I was attending my master’s course in conference interpreting at the interpretation school in Rome, the city where I currently live and work. Then I won the Erasmus scholarship, and during my university days in Munich I carried out some liaison interpreting assignments on the occasion of international trade fairs in Germany. Then I went back to Rome to obtain my Master’s Degree in Conference Interpreting in March 2010. After a 6-month internship period as a translator and interpreter at the Italian Parliament, I started my career as a freelance interpreter in Italy and Europe.


Q: Why did you choose conference specialty?

A: I graduated in conference interpreting, but I also attended a community interpreting course and I currently work as a conference, community and court interpreter. I started studying foreign languages when I was a child and I decided to become an interpreter at the age of 12. When I attended the language high school I was curious about every subject and this is the main reason why I chose conference specialty: I could speak and translate languages and study everything I wanted – from medicine to philosophy – without ever getting bored!

Q: What was your first interpreting job?

A: An English<>Italian simultaneous interpreting assignment during a 3-day meeting of a religious congregation in Rome. It was voluntary work, but it was a huge international meeting with young people and it was so exciting and incredible!

Q: How do you prepare for assignments?

A: First of all, I always make sure that I have some previous knowledge about the topic and never accept assignments where topics are completely unknown to me. I study the conference material if available, I learn glossaries of previous conferences on the same topic, I look for new words on the Internet, I prepare and learn new glossaries. I study hard, but I also leave  room for improvisation. Conference interpreting is much more than words, and working live is always a new challenge and adventure!

Q: Which is easier, translation or interpreting? 

A: Both are difficult, but it all depends on your personality. I am extrovert, impulsive and love new challenges, therefore interpreting is a better fit for me. I think translation is very useful for learning new words and reasoning on their exact meaning, but I find it less fun… and I am not always so patient!

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

A: Funny enough, a liaison interpreting assignment during a one-week technical course for blue collars on the functioning of industrial machines. It was a highly technical task and I had spent the previous days studying engineering in German and Italian. The attendees were very friendly and easy-going and I could not believe my eyes that they really understood what I was saying. I had learned a ton of words, trying to understand how all those mechanisms worked, but engineering was a secret to me, and still is!

Q: What was the saddest experience on the job?

A: A consecutive interpreting assignment where I had to convey the message of the CEO of a multinational company to the employees who were going to get fired. It was so sad to watch their faces while I was interpreting, that I almost felt guilty about what I was saying, even though those were not my words. I did not feel well, but I managed to carry out the task anyway.

Q: Which social media do you use? What are your most favorite pages/accounts/groups to follow?

A: I am a social media enthusiast and I love marketing! I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and I manage my own website and blog.

There are so many interesting and informative pages, groups and accounts to follow on all social media platforms that it would be impossible to list them all. The social media profiles of interpreting associations worldwide are absolutely top-notch and let’s never forget the profiles of freelance interpreters and translators. Some colleagues are just great at working and marketing themselves! If you are social media fans, you will not miss them, they cannot fly under the radar.

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

A: Always be passionate about what you are doing and never ever give up if things do not seem so easy at the beginning of your career. Just try to be the best version of yourself in every single assignment. Also learn about marketing and treat both small and big clients in a professional manner: their success depends on you.

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

A: Conference interpreting is a seasonal profession and in low periods I keep training myself in the simultaneous and consecutive interpreting techniques. I am always on the lookout for professional development opportunities both on the web and in person, I read books of every kind, I watch films and webinars in my working languages on different topics, not necessarily on translation or interpreting. The interpreting profession is very dynamic and never boring, therefore anything that is of interest to you may also be useful in your job.

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

A: Client and colleague relations. Despite everything professional associations have done over the years to stand up for interpreters’ working conditions, there are still many clients in the market who do not know what interpreting is all about. We should focus more on client education and we should also learn to say “no” when we think conditions are not fair enough. Moreover, interpreters are competitive people by nature – or the market requires them to be competitive – and this is good if we want to improve our skills and competences, but it is not good if we cannot collaborate. When you work as a freelancer, collaboration with clients and colleagues is always key.

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

A: You are interpreting what a person is saying, so learn to concentrate and actively listen. Then put yourself into the speaker’s shoes. Interpreting is not about you, interpreting is pure communication. 

You can find Alessandra on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Alessandra is one of the speakers at IEO 2nd conference Language Access and the New Reality on December 3-4, 2020. Together with Natali Lekka and Rafa Lombardino she will be speaking on the panel “Expanding skills and careers”. This panel will discuss the potential to diversify your career by acquiring new knowledge. Topics to be covered are content writing, live subtitling and voiceover.

Tools & Technology in Translation

Working on Voice Over Projects

Do you have a pleasant voice and good pronunciation? Have you ever translated something that was meant to be read aloud? Have you ever thought about becoming a voice over artist? Learn about the technical aspects of voice over recording and how to apply for projects in the area.

This blog was first published on Rafa Lombardino’s Youtube channel. Rafa is one of the speakers at IEO 2nd conference Language Access and the New Reality on December 3-4, 2020. Together with Natali Lekka and Alessandra Checcarelli she will be speaking on the panel “Expanding skills and careers”. This panel will discuss the potential to diversify your career by acquiring new knowledge. Topics to be covered are content writing, live subtitling and voiceover.

Interpreter Intelligence

7 Features Your Interpreter Platform Should Have

Any interpreter platform worth its weight in Bitcoin should have basic features such as calendar synchronization, scheduling, accounting automation and high-quality Over the Phone Interpreting (OPI) & Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), just to name a few. However, to accommodate the diverse needs of your customer base, you need more than just those basic features. You need to be able to rely on a comprehensive platform that allows you to cater to the unique needs of your customers and interpreters. Here are 7 features your ideal interpreter platform should have.

1. Tailored Job Information

From schools to hospitals, from courts to general businesses, every customer has its own way of doing things. Some courts need to specify the case ID in the job information, some hospitals need to specify the patient or doctor when booking an interpreter, some schools need to mention the teacher’s name, large businesses need to be able to communicate exactly where the assignment will take place,… Your interpreter platform should be able to accommodate these requests by allowing you to add notes to jobs, or ideally, by allowing you to set up configurable entry fields for specific clients, which would facilitate the collection of desired job information when creating or closing a job.

2. Configurable Communications

As every customer and interpreter is different, so is the way they communicate. Your ideal interpreter platform allows you to configure templates for every type of communication, and it allows you to determine when and how everything is communicated. Some customers or interpreters prefer to be notified via email, some prefer to be notified by SMS. Some interpreters are more forgetful than others and like to be reminded of an upcoming assignment. Some customers for example like to know when the status of the assignment has changed. In short, automate all your communications, whether it is for your customers or for your interpreters, the way they prefer it. Save yourself the trouble of calling and emailing back and forth by leveraging an interpreter platform with configurable communications.

3. Pricing Customization

Interpreter rates depend on many variables, something which we mentioned in a previous blog post (The Intricacies of Interpreter Pricing), and depending on the deals you have struck with your customers, the rates you charge them depend on many different variables as well. Whether you are dealing with your customers or with your interpreters, rates usually vary depending on the language combination, interpreter certification, timing and duration of the assignment, mileage, travel time, meal breaks,… The combinations to get to the final rate are endless, so arm your organization with a platform that allows you to fully customize the pricing of your interpreters and customers.

4. Multiple Portal Access

Another way of streamlining language service delivery is by limiting your overall involvement. An interpreter platform with multiple portal access allows your customers and interpreters to interact directly. Once you have everything set up, customers can request interpreters directly through their portal, and interpreters can accept jobs directly through theirs. This way, for routine assignments, your involvement is minimal. With three portals under one single environment, you can remove as many hurdles as possible for successful and painless interpreter service delivery.

5. Offer Automation

Speaking of limiting your involvement, automating job offers is another way of saving yourself tons of time and resources. With the right interpreter platform, you can enable automatic job offering for any customer, which means they can create assignments which will be sent out automatically to all interpreters who meet the eligibility requirements for that assignment. Whichever interpreter reacts the fastest will be automatically attached to that job. Do not relinquish control, but eliminate the bottlenecks in the booking process.

6. Instant Customer Verification

Once the interpreter assignment is complete, there needs to be a way for your customers to verify and approve the assignment. If the assignment occurs over the phone or through video, then the right interpreter platform will automatically bill your customer based on the duration of the call. For onsite interpreting, however, your customer should have a way of approving the assignment right then and there. Ideally, your interpreters can log onto the platform through their phones and have the customer electronically sign in order to close the job. Not only is this an eco-friendly solution, it will prevent any confusion during the invoicing process.

7. Compliance Management

Your customers often require very specific interpreters. Hospitals need medically certified interpreters, courts need interpreters with legal certification,… The right interpreter platform allows you to manage all interpreter certification. On their profile, interpreters should be able to upload proof of their certification, which you can later approve. An interpreter platform with proper compliance management also allows you to put expiration dates on proofs of certification, to reflect the expiration of certain types of certification in real life.

Interpreter Intelligence can help!

Language service delivery can get very complicated, so implement an interpreter platform that reflects that. With Interpreter Intelligence, you can configure how much control your customers have. Set up a simple interface for smaller customers, and a more comprehensive interface for bigger customers. It is no coincidence that Interpreter Intelligence is trusted by the largest Language Service Providers in the world and has more active users than any other platform. Contact Interpreter Intelligence to learn more about their product features. 

Interpreter Intelligence is the Platinum sponsor of IEO’s 2nd conference Language Access and the New Reality.

Hispanic Heritage Month Featured Interpreter: Mireya Perez

With over 10 years of experience as a professional interpreter, Mireya is currently an English to Spanish K-12 school district trained interpreter and the founder of Brand the Interpreter podcast.

Q: Why do you think Hispanic Heritage Month is important? What would you like to see more of during this time?
A: It’s important that younger generations can see that representation exists. Particularly in the world of social unrest that we’re currently living in, it’s important to have a sense of belonging and representation at a young age. Hispanic Heritage Month helps to highlight the many different faces/jobs/cultures and so on, that make up a beautiful collective of who we are and what we represent. 

Q: Which Spanish-speaking country have you lived in? 
A: When I was around 3-4 years old, we stayed for a long period of time in Ixtapaluca, Mexico. I have vague yet fond memories of my time there. Later, through the years, as a family we would stay the summers between El Capulin, Guanajuato (father’s side) and Manzanillo, Colima (mother’s side). I loved our family trips to Mexico and I love and appreciate my parents for instilling this love of our culture within me.

Q: What are some of the most important things to remember while interpreting for Hispanic people?
A: I personally always strive for inclusivity. I want the families I work with to feel that they are a part of their child’s education process, that they have “communicative autonomy” during their communications with school staff and district administrators. My goal is to help empower parents to have their own authentic voice be heard, regardless of the fact that they are speaking through an interpreter. 

Q: What are your favorite books in Spanish literature?
A: Cien años de soledad by Gabriel Gacia Marques, Como agua para chocolate by Laura Esquivel, La casa de los espiritus by Isabel Allende. (I took Spanish literature as part of my bachelors program and these were but the few books that I was introduced to.) Some I had read prior to the program. As you can see, I’m one of those hopeless romantics. I wish I could have been introduced to the beautiful world of Spanish literature at a younger age.

Q: How did you come up with Brand the Interpreter? What is the main goal?
A: Brand the interpreter was born out of my love for learning, interpreting and branding. As a single parent/single income, it was difficult for me to participate in all the different language-industry events. Frankly speaking, I simply couldn’t afford to attend all the wonderful conferences that help inspire our journeys as language professionals. Branding through storytelling is a communications process that many communication professionals adopt in order to create brand awareness. One day I simply decided I wanted to merge the three and offer other language professionals the opportunity to learn from other professionals and, simultaneously, brand our roles through sharing our stories. And so, Brand the Interpreter the Podcast was born. I’m in love with the process. I’m in love with how others have also appreciated the framework and the platform itself. It’s been a beautiful journey and it’s only just begun!  

Q: How did you start in interpreting field?
A: I started my professional interpreting trajectory over a decade ago after completing a community interpreting certificate program from Riverside Community College. I became a certified medical interpreter shortly thereafter and later transitioned to the K-12 public education system where I’ve dedicated the last 7 years to branding the role of the professional interpreter and creating systems that help ensure language access to LEP families.

Q: What was your first interpreting job?
A: My first interpreting job was at a local hospital as a dual role, per diem, employee. I worked the second shift (7pm to 7am) in the Labor and Delivery Department. It was brutal, but here is where I was encouraged to become certified. Later, I transitioned to a Children’s Hospital. It was heart-wrenching but fulfilling.

Q: What was the saddest experience on the job?
A: Definitely the “End-of-Life Conferences” and “Last-breath” conversations at the Children’s hospital. I think the titles of the assignments speak for themselves. 

Q: How do you prepare for assignments?
A: Part of the process that I’ve helped to create in our school district is ensuring that information is shared with interpreters prior to any assignment. I study the presentations/documents/materials/terminology ahead of time, to get a sense of how the communication and ideas will flow. If I have questions with regards to content, I touch base with the presenter to clarify any questions/concerns. It’s truly a team effort.

Q: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming interpreter?
A: Continue learning. All good things take time, seek out a mentor if need be. Flat out ask them, “would it be possible to have you mentor me during this process?”. Whatever it takes, just keep going.

Q: What can you recommend to our students aiming to get certified?
A: Try to find others that can help you through the process. It’s difficult sometimes to find like-minded individuals, so consider joining a professional network (even an online one). Build your professional network early on.

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 a huge nerd. I tend to do it all when it comes to learning and developing skills. So yes, I join conferences, webinars, read books, articles, listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and so on. What’s important here is that there are all sorts of ways to develop our professional skills. “Success leaves clues”, meaning that there are countless professionals giving away content to help others in their journey. Our job is simply to find them.

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: It would be a disservice to my fellow interpreters in education to not mention the need for courses specifically designed for the interpreter in the education field. Within the context of this year I’ve seen more universities across the nation begin to offer courses specifically for this area. My dream is that all universities that offer T&I programs include a course/courses for interpreting in education as a part of their curriculum.
If I could choose a new topic for a webinar or course, it would definitely be on branding (what can I say?). Creating a brand for the work that we do can assist us whether we work as independent contractors or with an organization.

Q: What would you like changed or improved in the industry? 
A: I’d love to see more collaboration between the different areas of specialization. I believe we’re stronger together and we all have much to learn from one another. 

Mireya is one of the presenters at IEO 2nd conference Language Access and the New Reality on December 3-4, 2020. She will be presenting “Navigating language access in education: interpreter’s perspective” at 4 PM EST on December 4.

You can find Mireya on LinkedIn and Instagram

Translators without Borders: how your money works

Part of the proceeds for IEO conference Language Access in the New Normal was donated to Translators without Borders. The organization is currently working on providing critical information about COVID-19 in as many languages as possible. Here is how your money works.

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