Final activity: conduct an interview through an interpreter

Picture of a male interpreterTo complete this module in the most effective way, and so that you can gain the confidence you need to work with an interpreter, you will need to practice this with a real parent or client and a real interpreter. Conduct an interview with your client by working through the steps below. If you are unable to do this with a real client you can practice by setting up a three way role play with your colleagues.

Steps to follow when working with an interpreter

  • Brief the interpreter before the interview. Interpreters may not be aware of your sector and the terminology you use so give the interpreter some content for the discussion
  • Before you begin the interview introduce yourself, the interpreter and the client and explain your respective roles
  • Explain that interpreters are bound by their code of ethics for confidentiality and will interpret only what has been said by yourself
  • Explain that the interpreter will also interpret information back to you
  • Find out if the client is comfortable with the interpreter (you may also need to observe this through their body language). If you or your client are not happy, request a different interpreter for your next appointment
  • When working face to face seat the people involved in a triangle to encourage communication between you and the client rather than the client and the interpreter
  • Speak directly to the client
  • Use your natural tone of voice
  • Keep statements brief, one or two sentences only and pause for interpretation
  • Speak normally but avoid using slang or jargon
  • Invite the client to ask questions at any time
  • Summarise the discussion yourself and check whether the client is ready to end the discussion
  • Decide if you need to book another appointment and while the interpreter is still with you work out an appropriate time with the interpreter and the client for another meeting

Remember you are in control of the situation, not the interpreter. The interpreter will be waiting for directions from you.

After the interview

Not all interviews conducted through an interpreter will go according to your plan. Working with interpreters takes patience and practice. You will need to work with interpreters a few times to feel fully in control of the situation, but the reward will be worth it in terms of effective communication with families.


Take the time to reflect on your interview so that you can improve your process next time.

At the end of the interview take a few moments to write down

  • What went well?
  • What would you do next time to improve your experience?
  • Make a list of the things you forgot to say, so that you can remember to say them in the next meeting with your client.

Discuss your experience with other people in your service and encourage them to work with interpreters in the future.

Practice makes perfect!

Extension activity:

Engage an interpreter to provide feedback to a parent about their child’s progress and development whilst attending your service. You can follow the same steps as outlined above.

  1. Book the interpreter
  2. Prepare for the session
  3. Conduct the session
  4. Review the process and reflect on your progress.
  5. Discuss your experience with other people in your service.

 For more help refer to TIS

Last modified: Thursday, 3 November 2016, 10:48 AM