The cultural context in interpreting sessions
We’re holistic. We don’t just translate words; we explain the cultural context. We save statutory services time and money, by making sure they are better understood.
Duncan Campbell from the National Youth Advocacy Service had this to say about a recent session;
“We met in a room with a large table. We had no option other than to use the table. The 2 young people were on the other side. Mebrak sat next to me. And I spoke directly to the young people, Mebrak would then translate. She would tell me what they had said. All the time I was able to engage the young people. With Mebrak and me almost being part of the same entity. It worked well.
“On a few occasions Mebrak would say, “That is quite difficult to interpret. Can you say it in another way?”
"And that was very useful. And that was when we got to the idea of ‘complaint’ because these 2 young people wanted to talk about what had happened to them. In my context it sounded like the sort of thing I would want to complain about.
But to them it meant something entirely different. Mebrak explained to me that I would need to rephrase the whole thing otherwise they would assume they would be in for a big bout of legal stuff with courts and that sort of thing."
"It was just what was necessary ...to have someone there to say, “Actually that is something that doesn’t translate very well.”
"She has an enormous cultural intelligence and awareness. We’re here to try and understand from 2 people what it is that they have experienced and what they want to do about it."
This is just one illustration of how we here at Vandu demonstrate value and are pleased to help people like Duncan in the course of their work. Making sure that everyone is clear about outcomes, explaining the UK system in ways that everyone can comprehend is our purpose.
Helping people to communicate
At Vandu we believe that if people can communicate, if they are informed, they are more likely to fulfil their potential, at home and at work. They’ll make the best use of the services available in Sussex; hospitals, police, social care. And they’ll contribute much more in the longer term.
Barbara Harris is Head of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights at Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals. She told us;
"That is what Vandu enables us to do. To ensure that our patients have an informed way of making decisions about very important aspects, if not of their own healthcare but that of their children and their loved ones.
We could not be certain of people making informed decisions about their healthcare if they can’t understand what it is that we are trying to highlight to them. So by having interpreted and translated material, it means they can make decisions that you or I would take for granted for being able to make for ourselves or loved ones."
"I think the majority of interpreters are really passionate about what they do. The fact that maybe 10 years ago they were perhaps in the same position and maybe know what it’s like to come to the UK with maybe only a smattering of English.
But they also understand not only how empowering it is to be able to speak their own native tongue but be fluent in English. And I think that the ethos that I like about Vandu is that they instil in people the determination to learn English, learn about the culture so that they can then become successful.
So they are not continually, 5, 10, 15 years down the line, still needing an interpreter to help them navigate health, NHS or any other aspect of Britain that they might need."Read more
Introduction to Bilingual Advocacy
What is Bilingual Advocacy?
Bilingual advocacy is an interim service that helps those that do not speak English to access the services they need and empowers individuals to take control of their own healthcare. Distinct in its role from interpreting, bilingual advocacy practitioners work with clients on a short term basis to provide information about the services that are available and ensure the client’s wishes are heard in the decision making process. They also provide necessary cultural information to service providers on behalf of the client. While interpreters are strictly impartial, advocates work to voice the desires and decisions of the client.
Referrals for bilingual advocacy may come from a variety of sources and anyone can suggest the service if they feel it is a suitable course of action; for example, a social worker, a friend or family member, an advocate working in the community or clients may self-refer. Bilingual advocates working with Vandu Language Services are usually engaged for one to one appointments in the first instance and the client is encouraged to discuss their issues in a place they feel comfortable and able to talk. Often, initial assessment takes place over the phone but in certain circumstances could be at a client’s home or in a neutral space such as a library.
Once agreed on a course of action, the client offers their consent for an advocate to act on their behalf while also being present at subsequent face to face appointments with those responsible for carrying out treatment.
Bilingual advocates take instruction from the client at all stages, ensuring their wishes are voiced and to satisfactory conclusion. Signposting to services equipped to assist the client and demonstrating how to continue to do so in the future are major elements of the advocate’s role. Assessment of improvement in the client’s well-being and self-reliance takes place at the beginning and end of case to establish the efficacy of the service provided.
Key responsibilities of a Bilingual Advocate
- Act on behalf of their patients and help them to communicate their needs to health and social care providers;
- Help service providers to understand fully the symptoms that patients express;
- Facilitate linguistic and cultural communications;
- Inform clients of services and choices available;
- Work with individual patients or groups of patients;
- Assist with promoting good health and well-being.
To find out more about this service or to speak to an advisor, please contact the Vandu service team on 01273 473986Read more
7 Tips for Getting a Translation
We are often asked for translations by those who are new to the process and unsure how to go about getting the best service while attempting to stay within budget. Pricing can seem outrageously high or worryingly cheap and the service you get will depend on your perceptions as a buyer.
If you have never bought translation services or are new to the idea of having your marketing copy localised, technical data produced so it can be read by your overseas clients or contracts delivered to the letter, we have identified these 7 simple tips to help.
1. Define your subject. The translator should be selected on their knowledge of the field; giving medical translations to an engineering graduate tends not to give satisfactory results.
2. Provide glossaries if your text is highly specialised. You may know what those three letter abbreviations (TLAs) stand for but they don’t always mean the same thing to a translator. It helps to know for sure and speeds up the process.
3. Specify the source and target languages. Translators should normally work from source language into their mother tongue. You may find translators that work both ways but buyer beware – ask for evidence of proficiency in these instances. What qualifies a person to translate into their non-native language?
4. Set a deadline for completion. But be realistic - 10,000 words is unlikely to be done effectively overnight. If it has taken you two weeks to write, it can’t be assumed that a translator will turn it around in a fraction of that time with the necessary attention to detail. If it is a rush job, the translator (or their agency) will advise you if it is possible to do in the time given.
5. Set the budget. There is no hard and fast rule surrounding pricing; structures are as varied as the language combinations that may be requested. Simply put, you will get what you pay for. Is it worth jeopardising your company name for a cheap and error-filled text for the sake of a few pennies? Shop around and see what range of rates there appears to be but - like anything - a good reputation and lots of experience wins in all cases.
6. Second opinions are always good. Make sure your text is being proof-read by a second professional if you value accuracy. Is it included in the price?
7. You need a seven? Relax. Good translators are professionals, are highly knowledgeable and if they are worth engaging, they are worth trusting. They will advise, guide and discuss your project with you. If you need to read more, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting has an excellent and in-depth guide to help you buy all manner of language services, https://www.iti.org.uk/about-industry/advice-buyers/getting-it-right
For a no-obligation quote, please call our service team on 01273 473986, we’ll be happy to advise you and ensure timely, cost effective delivery of your project.
4 Tips for working with interpreters
You have spent months researching your target market, have developed a beautiful marketing plan replete with colourful brochures and now comes the time when you need to communicate directly with your customer.
Is your customer able to hold a conversation about the finer details of that contract? How about the technical specifications? Can you be sure that everything you both need to discuss will be expressed, understood and agreed before you sign your names at the bottom of the page?
Engaging a professional interpreter will alleviate your worries. There are thousands of professionals versed in two or more languages that understand not only the subtleties of the spoken communication but can provide vital information with regard to cultural norms. Many are specialised in the terminology of specific industries such as pharmaceuticals, technology or construction.
Deciding whether to engage an interpreter could mean the difference between gaining the confidence of that important client and securing that lucrative deal or having them walk away confused by your meeting or presentation.
We have isolated four tips for those that are considering engaging with customers abroad, developing relationships with overseas partners or attempting to avoid cultural misunderstanding.
1. Meet with the interpreter ahead of any contact with your client to advise what it is you want to achieve. If there is terminology that is specific to your product or service, this can be identified in advance and make the meeting go more smoothly; the interpreter will then know how to render these terms for maximum efficiency.
2. The interpreter is a professional in their field, will have more than adequate qualifications to perform the task in hand and will draw on their life experience to represent your business in the best possible way. Utilise their knowledge to discover cultural norms, for example the all important first greeting.
3. Talk directly to the client. It may sound obvious but you will be surprised how often this fails to happen. Speak through the interpreter not to them. The interpreter should seat themselves in a way that all parties can hear what is being said without interfering. Before long you will barely notice them as the conversation flows.
4. Speak slightly more slowly and allow space in your sentences for the interpreter to convey your sentences more effectively. Other than that you should aim to speak in your usual register with your usual vocabulary.
To request an interpreter or find out more about the service, please contact our service team on 01273 473986