When you need interpreting services, you have two major options, broadly speaking: telephonic interpreting and on-site interpreting.
So what’s the difference? How do you know when to use which?
Don’t panic. We’re here to help.
Generally speaking, on-site interpreting is the best way to go.
Whether you need consecutive or simultaneous interpreting, having an interpreter present at your meeting, conference or trial allows for the most accurate interpretation. Since the interpreter will be able to take body language and other non-verbal cues into account, he or she can convey the speech’s tone along with the words themselves.
Sometimes, though, arranging an in-person interpreter just isn’t an option. Thankfully, for the following situations, you can turn to telephonic (as known as over-the-phone) interpreting in order to make yourself heard, in nearly any language you can think of — and some you can’t.
Use telephonic interpreting for:
Accidents happen. When they do, on-demand interpreting can really pay off. For police stations, fire response teams, hospitals and other emergency services, the ability to gather information quickly and efficiently is crucial. So if the dispatcher and the person on the other end of the line don’t speak the same language, lives and property are at risk.
During a fire, robbery or natural disaster, callers don’t have time to wait around for an interpreter to show up on the scene. Thankfully, telephonic interpreting comes to the rescue. Dispatchers from 911, 112 or 000 (or any other emergency number) can connect to a call coordinator who will identify the language being spoken (if needed) and get a qualified interpreter on the line, relaying vital information in moments.
Thanks to on-demand access, telephonic interpreting can literally be a life-saver. And even after the initial crisis has been addressed, interpreters can stay on the line to help police or paramedics collect further information.
2) Tight Deadlines
Even when lives aren’t at stake, there are times when fast access to another language can be incredibly important — landing that big international client, for instance, or an unexpected meeting with a non-English speaker.
Once again, telephonic interpreting gives you a solution. Since it doesn’t require any specialized equipment, you can use telephonic interpreting to handle situations as they occur – if your client is across the world, you can simply host a conference call, and for colleagues in the same room with you, you can use speakerphone or pass the phone back and forth.
If you have time to arrange for an in-person interpreter for these scenarios, you’re encouraged to do so. But there’s no reason to let spontaneity shoot down a business opportunity, and telephonic interpreting lets you react to sudden changes in language requirements.
3) Remote Locations & Uncommon Languages
The languages spoken by interpreters are different from one community to the next. It’s no trouble finding a Russian interpreter in New York City, for example, but it might be a little trickier in, say, Chester, Montana.
That doesn’t mean that a Muscovite in Chester is totally out of luck, however — it just calls for a bit of adjustment. One could always arrange to fly in an interpreter, if one happened to have a private jet and loads of cash. But for the rest of us, the phone is a much more practical alternative.
Even if you’re not in a particularly remote location, though, you might need access to a language that just isn’t very common in your neck of the woods. Once more, telephonic interpreting can put you in touch with a Tagalog interpreter, whether you’re in Detroit, Des Moines or Dallas.
4) Low-Volume Needs
Finally, imagine you need to talk to a dozen co-workers or so, one at a time. Each of them works in a different branch office around the world, and thus, they each speak a different language. Sure, you could hire twelve different interpreters to come to your office to assist you, but that’s going to get expensive — not to mention crowded — in a hurry.
The more practical solution is to make use of telephonic interpreting. With low per-minute rates, you can save yourself a whole lot of time, money and hassle just by picking up the phone.
While telephonic interpreting is an incredibly useful service, I can’t emphasize enough that you should always try to arrange an on-site interpreter first, if possible. When an interpreter can’t be there in person, however, who you gonna call? Hopefully, telephonic interpreting.