Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone on the phone whose fluency in your own language is non-existent or quite low? To be honest, it can be difficult enough talking to someone on the phone who speaks the same language as you, let alone when you don’t understand each other! That’s where phone interpreting services come in useful.
Phone interpreting services are a commercial service provided by certified interpreters who act as an intermediary between you and the person who you want to converse with. The three-way conversation has to be set up in advance, although some professional phone interpreters may act on a 24/7 basis. Obviously, what you pay for the service depends on how urgent the conversation is. If you need to use a phone interpreter ‘on demand’ it is likely that you will be paying more than a scheduled session in business hours.
How it works
Let’s say that you need to talk to a client in Germany. The client speaks basic English, but finds it difficult to understand your English accent. It is vital that you have no misunderstandings when you communicate. Of course, if you do decide to make a scheduled phone call using a phone interpreter, it is because you cannot use any other method of communication, such as email. Phone calls are very useful when you want instant answers, or when the thread of communication tends to evolve as you talk to each other. A lot can be lost in communication as well as in translation in the written form.
Your phone call to your German client or colleague must be booked up in advance with your preferred phone interpreter. It may take a bit of trial and error before you get just the right phone interpreting services that fits the bill. You may use a freelance phone interpreter who gets used to your accent and the accent and speech of the person you most commonly communicate with by phone, but often phone interpreting services offer a more flexible service. The more interpreters that are available, the faster you would be able to schedule a three-way phone call.
The phone call then basically follows the format that you would follow if you were talking face to face with the person in an interpreter’s presence. You say your piece, the phone interpreter repeats what you say in the other language, your client responds and this gets relayed through the interpreter back to you.