The Dos & Don’ts of Working with an Interpreter
· When possible, hire interpreters/translators. Interpreting is a skill. Offering adequate compensation is the best way to ensure access to a qualified interpreter when you need one.
· Develop a list of bilingual community members willing to volunteer. Start with other parents at your school. Other sources for volunteers include your local university or community college, the local library, church groups, and community associations. [The BETAC keeps an informal database of self-identified interpreters/translators.]
· Respect families’ privacy. Make sure the interpreter knows that all information is confidential. This is especially important when working with volunteers in small communities.
· Make eye contact with the parent, not the interpreter.
· Speak clearly and precisely. Pause frequently so the interpreter can restate what you’ve said clearly and accurately.
· Create a file of frequently used forms in a variety of languages.
· Use children to interpret. Children may not have the linguistic ability to interpret or translate accurately. In addition, relying on children to interpret may undermine parental authority.
· Rely exclusively on bilingual teachers at your school. While they are good resources, teachers have many other responsibilities.
· Call on the same volunteer too often. Volunteers may get “burnt out” if called too frequently.
· Rely on translation software. Machine translations are unreliable at best and incomprehensible at worst.
· Assume parents are literate in their native language. In some cases, sending notes home to parents won’t be effective in any language.
Adapted from BETAC Interchange Vol. XIII No. 1 Fall/Winter 2004/2005
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What Affects English Language Learning?/The Silent Period
Helping LEP Students Adjust to the Classroom
Recommended Classroom Strategies for Teachers Working with ELLs
Challenges in Content Area Learning for ELLS: Reading
Challenges in Content Area Learning for ELLS: Mathematics
Challenges in Content Area Learning for ELLS: Science
Challenges in Content Area Learning for ELLS: Social Studies
Culture in the Classroom
Ten Ways Parents Can Promote Language Learning at Home
Common Questions and Answers concerning ESL
Helpful Websites and Shenendehowa ESL teacher contact info
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