onsite interpretation

According to a report of the Center for Immigration Studies, one in every five Americans spoke a language other than English in 2017. This means that the number of US residents speaking a foreign language at home has reached nearly 67 million people, which is a significant increase compared to previous years. 

In terms of interpretation and translation, the figures above mean that there will be a growing demand for these services. One of the potentially growing users is the health industry. After the adoption of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, all healthcare service providers are obliged to provide interpretation when dealing with patients with limited English proficiency. Hence, the profession of the medical interpreter became quite sought after.  

The business also needs the services of qualified translators and interpreters in order to conduct its operations. When it comes to meeting foreign partners or vendors, communication should be facilitated by the use of a professional business interpreter 

There are different forms of interpretation but two of the most popular ones utilized by both different businesses and in healthcare are over the phone interpreting and onsite interpretation. Choosing which option is the best depends on several factors such as the specific situation and the availability of interpreters. 

In order to decide which is the best in a given setting, the business should be aware of what each service includes and what are the main advantages and disadvantages of each option. 

Onsite Interpretation 

One of the most popular forms of interpretation services is that of the onsite interpretation. Generally, it means that the interpreter is present at the place where the interested parties meet and facilitates the communication by rendering the dialog from the source into the target language. There are different forms of onsite interpretation but the two main ones include simultaneous interpretation and consecutive interpretation: 

  • Simultaneous interpretation is used for bigger meetings, workshops, and conferences. The interpreters sit in a special booth and use a headset and a microphone to do their job. They speak while the speaker speaks and there is no delay in rendering the message. The interaction between the interpreter and the end users is limited.  
  • In consecutive interpretation, the interpreter sits together with the participants in the communication. One person speaks, the interpreter listens and possibly takes notes and then renders the message into the target language. The speaker and the interpreter take turns to speak. This means that the time of the meeting gets a bit longer but there is greater interaction between the interpreter and the users of the service.  

Over the Phone Interpretation 

Over the phone interpretation is a service that has evolved through the years in order to facilitate communication between people speaking different languages when an interpreter cannot be present at the venue of their meeting. The service includes a three-way call between the interpreter and the two other parties. One of the persons speaks and then the interpreter interprets to the other person.  

Usually, this is an on-demand service that requires no scheduling in advance. Over the phone interpretation is available 24/7 and covers several languages. It is a convenient option for emergency situations when no interpreter can come to the venue and so it is often used in healthcare.  

Pros and Cons of Each Service  

Knowing the basics of onsite and over the phone interpretation can help the business choose which one is the best for them. There are, however, certain situations when only one of the services can be utilized and the other is completely inappropriate.  

  • Pros and cons of onsite interpretation 

Summoning an interpreter to the meeting you have with your partners, customers or other counterparts is the best way to guarantee smooth communication and to avoid misunderstanding. The advantages of the physical presence of the interpreter are several. You interact with the expert in real time and the quality of interpretation is enhanced due to factors such as context, body language, and expressions.  

Onsite interpretation is suitable for different formats. It can be used for meetings involving just a handful of participants and for quite large conferences with hundreds of people in an audience. It is perfect for guided tourist tours or business visits, as well as for lectures at universities, etc. There is a possibility to work with the same interpreter when you have an event but the option is not guaranteed because interpreters can have busy schedules. 

The biggest disadvantage of the service is that it is hard to find interpreters on short notice. Sometimes there are no experts available for the day you need them or if the language combination is more specific there might not be any interpreters near you. The rate of onsite interpretation is also higher, compared to over the phone interpretation. If the interpreter has to travel to the venue of the event, the client needs to cover travel and accommodation costs as well.  

  • Pros and cons of over the phone interpretation 

Over the phone interpretation is a service available throughout the entire day, every day of the week. It is quite a convenient option when you need an interpreter urgently. The service can be used by any business but is very popular in the healthcare industry. The people who need interpretation need to be at the same location, while the interpreter can be located virtually anywhere in the world. All you need is a reliable phone connection for the service to be provided.  

Quite often the service is automated – this means that the client of the language service provider has a special access number, which gives them the option to use the service whenever needed. There are multiple languages that the client can choose from.  

Another advantage is the price of the service. The charge is usually per minute and all calls are timed and charged respectively. There is no need to pay for any travel or accommodation of the interpreter, which makes the service much more affordable while keeping the high quality.  

One of the disadvantages is that there is no personal interaction and some of the information may be lost due to the fact that the interpreter cannot read the body language of the participants. The quality of the call is very important and if there are any interruptions that may affect the interpretation. In addition to that, over the phone interpretation is not suitable when there are more than two participants. There is also no guarantee that you will be able to work with the same interpreter, though some arrangements can be made.  

Each company has the option to choose between onsite and over the phone interpretation depending on its particular needs. It is good that both services are accessible and you can choose one or the other depending on the event. The most important for both of them is to find a trusted partner to work with so that you can relax that any time you need interpretation, you get the same high quality regardless of the person you are working with or the method of interpretation.  

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