Resources for LEP Victims & Immigrant Victims

Tips for Working with an Interpreter

Before Beginning:

  1. Explain that you would like the interpreter to interpret everything that you say, without adding, deleting or changing the meaning of anything. Explain that if the interpreter needs clarification of a term (frequently happens with legal and technical terms), the interpreter should ask you to clarify, rather than attempt to explain it to the client himself. Ask the interpreter to speak in the first person, so if the client says, "My husband hit me." the interpreter should state, "My husband hit me."
  2. Ask the interpreter to sign a confidentiality agreement, reassuring the client that the interpreter is bound by the same level of confidentiality that you are.

When Speaking to the Victim through the Interpreter:

  1. Speak slowly, in short sentences. Do not use technical or legal vocabulary or slang terms. Making these small changes will help a less trained interpreter to be able to interpret more accurately.
  2. Position the interpreter diagonally behind victim/client so that you are looking and speaking directly to the victim/client. This position will avoid making the interpreter the focus of everyone's attention and help build trust and rapport with the victim/client.
  3. Avoid side conversations between the interpreter and the victim/client. If a side conversation begins, gently steer the interpreter back into his/her role as interpreter by reminding her that you need to know everything that victim/client is saying.
  4. If you need the interpreter to verbally translate forms, allow plenty of time. Translation is a time-intensive skill and requires the complete attention of the interpreter.

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