Blog & Information
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.” 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.
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.”
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.)” 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.” 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.”
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!
 Narly Golestani, Barbara Moser-Mercer, Alexis Hervais-Adelman, et al. Brain plasticity in interpreters. http://virtualinstitute.fti.unige.ch/home/index.php?module=clip&type=user&func=display&tid=4&pid=3&title=brain-plasticity-in-interpreters
 Geoff Watts. The amazing brains of the real-time interpreters. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141117-the-ultimate-multi-taskers
 Simon Makin. Where does the brain store long-ago memories? https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/where-does-the-brain-store-long-ago-memories/
 Weihe Zhong. Memory Training in Interpreting. http://translationjournal.net/journal/25interpret.htm
By Janis Palma, federally certified English<>Spanish judiciary interpreter
This article first appeared on https://najit.org/
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.
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!
Special for Interpreter Education Online
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.
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):
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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: Services@InterpreterEducationOnline.com