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What Types Of Interpreting Are Best For You In A Post-Pandemic World?


During the peak of the pandemic, in-person meetings and events became almost impossible as quarantine required social distancing. This heavily impacted professional interpreting services and interpreters, as telephonic and virtual remote became the preferred types of interpreting, especially for business translation services. Now, as communities slowly return to normal, in-person meetings are making a comeback. This shift gives interpreters and clients more options for working together.

So, in our post-pandemic world, what types of interpreting are the best for your needs? One of the greatest qualities of a language translation company such as A Foreign Language Service – AFLS is that we have interpreters who can do it all. This means you can customize your interpreting experience based on your needs. But what type of interpreting is best for you? We will compare in-person, telephonic, and virtual interpretation formats so that you can make the best decision.

What Are Virtual, Telephonic, And Simultaneous Interpreting?

Virtual and over-the-phone interpreting offer unique advantages compared to in-person meetings. Both eliminate the need for travel, saving money for clients and interpreters. Remote forms of interpreting also eliminate the carbon footprint associated with in-person interpreting. In addition, virtual and telephonic meetings allow for a larger network of interpreters. At AFLS, we can reach out to any interpreter across the United States or around the world with remote interpreting.

slator data
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, most interpreters reported a sharp increase in remote interpreting. This abrupt shift is starting to moderate, with in-person interpreting on the rise again. Chart by Slator.

Meanwhile, in-person interpreting, also known as on-site interpreting, depends on the interpreter’s proximity to the appointment’s location. These are consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation.

In consecutive interpretation, a consecutive interpreter listens and provides language translations during pauses. This type of interpretation service can come in the form of on-demand phone interpreting, phone interpretation services, or remote consecutive interpretation services through various media.

Unlike consecutive interpreting, simultaneous interpreting involves interpreting the message from the source language to the target language in real-time. This method of interpreting can be conducted in person or remotely. A simultaneous interpreter translates without allowing for pauses in a simultaneous interpretation. Simultaneous interpreting follows the natural flow of the speaker and allows for a fairly smooth experience for the listeners. Unlike consecutive interpretation, simultaneous interpretation requires simultaneous interpreters to be on their toes constantly, using the latest equipment as well as being technically adept at the highest level.

Other types of in-person interpretation services are whisper interpreting, liaison interpretation, and escort interpretation, with interpreters being an integral part of the party. They provide different types of interpretation such as simultaneous interpretation or consecutive interpretation which is useful especially in meetings and for conference interpreting. Though such language services as liaison interpreting have their advantages especially if the interpreter translates the native language of the client, there will be issues when dealing with multiple languages. In that case, a third party will have to provide either a simultaneous mode of interpreting or relay interpretation using other means. Moreover,

When you reach out to AFLS, we will connect you with professional interpreters, no matter where you are or what language you need. Whether for medical and legal institutions, educational institutions, businesses, or as students, we can provide the right types of interpretation you need. Whether you need on-site interpretation, telephonic interpretation, video remote interpretation, or American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting, we can handle any of your language requeststo break language barriers. We customize your interpretation experience depending on what you need. This customization makes the possibilities endless for you.

What Are Differences Between Types Of Interpreting?

So what types of interpreting are best for your needs in our post-pandemic world? Research has been conducted on this topic and can provide insight into what language services will work best for you. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), remote video interpreting is best in controlled environments. They explain that video interpreting needs “camera and monitor placement not intrude on patient and provider eye contact and interpersonal interaction.”

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), remote video interpreting grew exponentially during the pandemic. This type of interpreting works best in controlled environments. Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash.

NCBI conducted a survey involving health providers, patients, and medical interpreters. Health providers responded that over-the-phone interpretation caused the most confusion. They noted poor audio and lack of a visual channel made it difficult for everyone involved. Meanwhile, virtual interpretation was described as challenging due to set up time and technical issues. Respondents noted that virtual interpreting also results in loss of eye contact as patients watch the monitor.

Benefits And Drawbacks With In-Person Interpreting

According to NCBI’s research, wait times are low for all three types of interpreting. However, the duration of the meetings depended on how they were being carried out. Only in-person and over-the-phone interpretation had significantly different interview times. Remote interpreting showed no significant time differences between them. The interview time was shorter in the virtual meetings and shortest in the phone meetings.

In-person interpretation was rated much higher by both health providers and interpreters. Meanwhile, patients rated the experience as roughly the same for all three types of interpreting. The study concluded that in-person interpreting was the preferred option. In-person interpretation helps patients to have a more personal experience and helps them to be better understood. Virtual meetings came in second, and over-the-phone interpreting registering as the least-liked method.

In-person interpreting allows for face-to-face communication. It helps patients to have a more personal experience and helps them to be better understood by health care professionals. Photo by SDI Productions on Getty Images Signature.

How Did Pandemic Impact Types Of Interpreting?

The European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Interpretation collaborated with École Supérieure d’Interprètes et de Traducteurs (ESIT) on a survey about interpreting during the pandemic. They found that 68 percent of respondents worked fewer days and 46 percent had fewer clients. Remote interpreting did allow interpreters to continue working during the Covid-19 crisis. However, for most respondents (78 percent), the pandemic also meant sailing through uncharted waters.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents reported working exclusively on-site for simultaneous interpreting tasks prior to the pandemic. In the middle of the pandemic, though, only 3 percent of respondents said all of their interpreting took place on-site. Whether working from home or on-site, interpreters reported struggling to adjust to the new changes. The survey found that 67 percent of respondents found Remote Simultaneous Interpreting (RSI) working conditions worse than on-site.

Benefits And Drawbacks With Remote Interpreting

Researchers noted that 83 percent of interpreters found RSI more difficult than on-site interpreting. Likewise, the survey found 50 percent of respondents think they perform worse in remote settings. During the pandemic, though, global circumstances forced everyone to be more flexible. Of the available platforms, research shows ZOOM interpretation features have become the leading one. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they use it for more than half of RSI assignments.

Nearly two-thirds of interpreters responded that they used Zoom interpretation features. For remote interpreting assignments, Zoom was the platform of choice least 50 percent of the time. Chart by Slator.

In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters had a particularly difficult time. Reading lips can become an additional hurdle in interpreting settings when everyone is wearing a mask. Similarly, interpreting signs through poor internet connection in RSI cases can cause confusion. In some instances, if you need an ASL interpreter, you may to choose an on-site interpreter so as to limit potential miscommunication.

Interpreting And Translation Helps Meet Language Needs

As a trusted leading language service provider, A Foreign Language Service – AFLS provides OPI/ VRI interpreting and on-site interpreting, certified document translation, and localization services to clients around the world. We offer services in up to 400 languages, including high demand ones such as Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, and American Sign Language (ASL). Depending on your needs, we can also provide support in endangered and emerging languages like Basque, Irish Gaelic, and Quechua.

In this vital work, we collaborate with a network of 1500-strong passionate, licensed professional translators and interpreters based throughout the world. Our clients include global brands and government agencies, as well as the medical, legal, business, and education communities. At AFLS, we understand the power and importance of language. We know that every language matters. Your language matters. Contact us today for a free quote!

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