3 Effective Positions for Spoken Languages

Positioning is one of the 4 protocols for community interpreting and refers to choosing the appropriate place to stand or sit in relation to the service user and provider. Why is it SO important???⁠

The main objective of effective positioning is to PROMOTE DIRECT COMMUNICATION between the two parties you are interpreting for. Interpreters are not the center of communication and should not draw attention to themselves. ⁠

The wrong position can lead to everyone looking at or turning to interpreter as they speak, instead of each other. They may even think the interpreter is actually a part of the conversation! Sign language interpreters are an exception as their signed language must be visible to the service user. ⁠

There are 3 general recommended positions for spoken language interpreting although one of the most effective is the first one (whenever possible, of course!)…⁠

  • Next to and slightly behind the patient or service user.⁠
  • Next to and slightly behind the service provider. ⁠
  • An unobtrusive position out of all sight lines, not too near either the service user or provider.⁠

Which one to choose depends on a lot of factors such as the type of appointment and facility, your surroundings, safety, privacy, how many people you are interpreting for, etc.

If you want to learn more about positioning and other protocols, this is thoroughly covered in The Community Interpreting International (TCII) training, the most updated and comprehensive training in our field… online and hybrid sessions available this fall!

For more information on our upcoming training sessions ⁠give us a call at ⁠(302) 499-3030 or check our training page.