Qualified Language Access: Essential and mandatory

On September 8, I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I spoke with a woman who works there and told her I am a Spanish interpreter. She told me she wished her husband had been able to work with an interpreter 30 years ago, before he met her. Here is her story, as she emailed it to me. Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.

Luis came from Peru, South America, to the United States of America to search for an eye doctor who could help him with his eyes. After seeing several doctors in several countries, and having been told that they could not help him, he went to Dr. XXXX in Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. XXXX wrote in my husband’s medical record that nothing could be done to make his eyes better.

Luis had partial detached retina in both eyes but he was still able to see with the help of glasses. He did not understand because he did not speak English. A friend told Luis about NIH (National Institutes of Health) and recomended that he try there. The NIH doctor saw his records from Dr. XXXX at Johns Hopkins, but proceeded to do an experimental operation on one eye  and then the other eye, and made Luis totally blind in both eyes.

I hope that someone can prevent this kind of malpractice. Thank you for your interest.

Currently, Federal regulations require that hospitals work with qualified interpreters and translators to provide language access. Family and friends are not allowed to provide interpreting and translation services. Untrained and untested bilingual employees do not qualify for this task either. Luis’s situation should not happen in today’s environment. However, is this the case? Is this happening in schools, in police stations, or in other settings?

New logo!

I decided to add a logo to my image. Why?

  1. I was submitting announcements to some places, like the local high school football program, and I needed a logo.
  2. I wanted my logo to represent me in a consistent way, so it would not be redrafted by each organization that helped promote me.

What did I want in a logo?

The GT to had be prominent, as if it had been branded on a cow. I wanted the words Gaucha and Translations to flow from there.

The logo had to be simple and clean so it could be quickly connected with my business. It had to be clear when it was small, on my business cards, and elegant when it was full size, on my website. 

Why Gaucha? My aunt Helena always gave me that compliment as a teenager. She grew up on San Elías, an estancia (Argentine ranch) where she took me several summers when I was growing up. When I had a creative idea, went the second mile, or did something special, she told me “¡Qué gaucha que sos!” (What a gaucha you are!)  

Helena recently passed away, but her memory lives on in my business name, emblazoned in my logo. I am a Gaucha. I thrive on solving problems with creativity, in a way that meets my clients’ needs and solves their problems. I also honor my heritage. I grew up in Argentina, and my mother is Argentine. I am Hispanic, and I want to make that clear in my name.

Welcome to Gaucha Translations, where we solve translation problems creatively for clients so  your message reaches your audience just the way you meant it.

Certification exam prep and other new resources

An overview of Helen’s comings and goings for the next few months:

Cuatro Mosqueteras: This year, three colleagues and I launched an effort to improve the writing skills of Spanish speakers who learned their language in the United States. For some time, I have noticed that my medical interpreting students and other stakeholders need a solid resource for this, and I have spent the last few years reviewing the literature on the subject.

Now we have a blog and are posting an article in Spanish every week that addresses issues which will help fluent Spanish speakers improve their writing skills. So far, we have received very positive reviews. All posts have an English abstract so English speakers can promote our work in the right places. Stay tuned to www.4mosqueteras.com!

Oral Certification Exam Preparation: Not every initial 40- or 60-hour orientation to medical interpreting has the time or ability to teach the skills needed to pass the oral certification exams. To help people go from the initial orientation to passing the certification exam, I am launching a new training series.

This will be a series of one-day workshops, timed to be a few weeks before each CCHI oral testing window. At this point I am only providing this training in Spanish, but I may explore making it language neutral in the future. I am starting with the language I know well so I can do things with excellence, the Gaucha way!

My upcoming classes (in Spanish) are:

  • September 17, in Hillsboro
  • October 8, in East Portland

Language proficiency testing: Interpreters need to provide proof of language proficiency at various stages in the certification process. The Oregon Health Authority requires it in order to become a Qualified interpreter. The national certification bodies require it in order to take their exams.

To help interpreters negotiate this hurdle, I am providing access to one of the most respected tests in the industry: the ACTFL test administered by Language Testing International. Click here for more information.

Conferences:

Over the next few months, I will be attending some very special conferences in the United States and Mexico.

August 29-30, New York City: Editorial Freelancers Association Conference. This will be an excellent opportunity to network with very sharp freelancers, and to visit the members of my family who live in The Big Apple!

September 10, Philadelphia, PA: 2016 East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit, hosted by the Delaware Valley Translators Association. They are hosting an ATA Certification exam the next day, on September 11.

September 23 to 25, Bend, Oregon: The Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters is hosting its third annual conference. On September 25, ATA hosts the ATA Certification exam, and OSTI members are preparing for it!

November 2 to 5, San Francisco, California: ATA 57th Annual Conference. I will be hosting a pair of sessions for the Interpreting Division (You Did What? Making Sense of Conflicting Codes of Ethics: Parts 1 and 2) on Thursday from 2:00 to 4:30 pm. I will also be working with Buddies welcome Newbies, in both the Introduction (Wednesday from 4:45 to 5:30 pm) and the Debriefing (Saturday afternoon). Click here to learn more about Buddies welcome Newbies, and please register! We always welcome Newbies, and we always need Buddies!

November 26 to 30, Guadalajara, Mexico: Feria internacional del libro de Guadalajara [Gualdalajara International Book Fair]. This is one of the biggest book fairs around! I will, of course, be shopping for books for my collection. No matter that I already have more than some think is reasonable… I want to see what is at this fair! I have also submitted a couple of presentations for the translation conference. Click here for the Feria Internacional del Libro happenings!

That’s a full schedule! Of course, I will keep up with my translation clients through all this travel, but I will also be sharpening my skills a lot through what I call Conference Marathon Season. It’s a time I relish every year. Welcome to my world!

Preparation for oral certification exams – 2016

To be a Qualified Health Care Interpreter in Oregon, one must demonstrate oral language proficiency. Additionally, a Certified interpreter must demonstrate interpreting skills by passing a certification exam. Both national medical certification bodies require proof of language proficiency to take the certification exam. Click here to see the requirements for Oregon Healthcare Interpreters.

At the 2015 OHCIA conference, many approached me and requested a training to help people who have already taken a 60 hour training program (or equivalent) to prepare for the interpreting certification exam. Because of the need I saw then, and had already seen, I have developed a class to help you on your way.

In this class, I will focus on skills including sight translation, terminology research, simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, and recording techniques to evaluate your own interpreting skills. The day will end with a discussion of the exam itself. Read more at this page.

As always, I don’t expect to give you all the answers in one short session. Rather, I want to give you a way to continue to grow in your professional skills. I studied for the federal certification exam this way, and got a 77. (The passing score is an 80.) After that preparation, passing the state exam was not a problem.

Click here to register.

To make testing convenient for interpreters who need to provide proof of language proficiency to the Oregon Health Authority or to certification bodies, Gaucha Translations also facilitates language proficiency testing. Click here to learn more.

2016 training dates: September 17 and October 8. Click here for details.

Travels with Helen

Today’s post is guest written by my husband, David. He has watched me in action over the years, and this is the story of some things he has learned.

In 25 years of marriage to Helen, I’ve learned a lot about my unconscious biases. I was raised on an entirely family-run farm in Oregon. When my older brother took Spanish in high school, I remember wondering why he would do that. Spanish was the language of the uneducated. They were migrant workers and probably illiterate. I had no contact with them, but I had biases against them anyway.

When we have these biases, they are not consciously chosen. It’s just how things are. We claim to be unbiased, but only because we don’t know any better.

This year, over Memorial Day Weekend, Helen and I spent our time at the Oregon Coast. We ate at a restaurant with an obvious Mexican slant in its menu, and Helen struck up a conversation with our server. After talking in English for a while, they switched to Spanish, and the words really started to fly! I don’t speak Spanish, so I had to get a summary from Helen afterwards. The server’s story is one that I’m beginning to realize is extremely common among the Hispanics in the US.

Our server moved to the US after completing 6th grade in Mexico and finished his education here in English. Listening to him speak, however, it’s obvious that Spanish is where his heart is. He has a strong desire to continue his Spanish education here in the US. He’s taking a Spanish writing class at the 200 level in his local community college, but finds it completely boring. It’s far below his level of knowledge of Spanish. He’s staying with it, hoping to learn something, but it’s very discouraging for him. He speaks fluently, but he wants to learn to write better.

Helen is working on providing education for heritage Spanish speakers, respectfully taught at their level, and he was excited to hear that she would like to bring a class to Newport if enough students could be found.

The next day, we heard a repeat of the same story when Helen struck up a conversation with a cleaning lady at our hotel in Depoe Bay. The cleaning lady appeared to almost be in tears during the conversation. She was speaking with someone who respected her, understood her situation, and wanted to help. That’s not something the Hispanics in the U.S. encounter very often. Her boss walked by during the conversation and joined in. The cleaning lady had no idea that her boss had spent time in Argentina and was very sympathetic with the plight of Hispanics in the States.

Through this contact there’s the possibility of getting some good Spanish literature in the local library. Her boss has contacts with the library, and it’s in the process of expanding.

I have been with Helen while she has had many encounters of this sort, and it’s very often the same story:

  • Either the Spanish speaker received as much education as was available in their location before moving to the US, or they moved while they were still in school. In any case, they want to continue their Spanish studies.
  • Hispanic employees are often expected to translate into Spanish at their jobs, but since their Spanish education was cut short, they really can’t do it well. They know that and want to get better. However, they have limited opportunities to do that once they are in the States.
  • Many libraries and bookstores in the US have limited Spanish sections, as Helen pointed out in this article a few years ago.

I hear these stories when I’m with Helen. She’s Hispanic, so they talk to her. They won’t tell these things to a Gringo like me. But it’s the same story, over and over. Only the names and faces change.

Presentations given in Argentina

The Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (Association of Sworn Translators of Buenos Aires) hosted the VI Latin American Translation and Interpreting Conference in April of 2016. I was a guest speaker and presented on the following topics:

I gave a presentation on the semantic analysis of the interpreted message, based on a lecture I had given to my students and the application of some elements of the Demand-Control schema to interpreting. I submitted this paper (in Spanish) along with my presentation.

I guided the conversation with this PowerPoint. It was well received and the participants seemed to understand this new way of looking at their message. At the end, we had a practical exercise which culminated with one participant volunteering to interpret for a room full of people impeccably. He got a well-deserved round of applause, and I took questions after that.

I was also invited to be part of a round table discussion on Standards. I focused on how we are trying to make them practical in the US, and how Federal laws require that the government follow best practices (aka Standards). This PowerPoint guided the discussion.

Please note that the links to the papers presented in Argentina are in the language of the audience there: Spanish. I will publish them in English in the future.

Checking for Quality in Translation: Teamwork

Airplane pilots have checklists and follow them carefully. One of them reads items off the list, according to popular belief, and the other one says “check”. This way, both pilot and copilot verify that everything is in order. What happens when there is a “check” that isn’t said?

“We would like to inform our passengers that this flight will be delayed by a few hours while we repair…”

“We would like to inform our passengers that in the interest of protecting your safety, the flight crew is going home. They have been up too long to be able to fly this transcontinental flight safely. You will be scheduled for an early morning flight. The airline has made hotel arrangements for you. Good night.”

Safety first. Every time. We grumble, but the airline that doesn’t put safety first is in big trouble.

What about translation?

Shouldn’t translators be checking just as carefully? At Gaucha Translations, I almost always have a second pair of eyes go over my translations, just like there are always both a pilot and a copilot in a commercial airplane. Errors in translations can cause safety hazards just like problems in airplanes can, although they’re clearly different types of hazards. I’ve been implementing this process for many years, and my colleagues and clients are familiar with this and have grown to expect it.

I stop to ask questions like: “The translator needs clarification of this text before we can proceed. The deadline will have to slide to accommodate that fact.”

The translator and the reviser have an ongoing conversation about some issues even before the reviewer gets the translation. The reviser gets the source document immediately and gets the change log as it develops. The reviser might even help develop some of the items in the change log!

Here is the Gaucha Translations process. We follow it. Every time. Now it’s official.

The Translator Requests a Clarification: Tracking the conversation

Translators and interpreters face a common problem: lack of clarity in the source message. Interpreters have a standard formula for addressing this: “the interpreter requests clarification”. Although translators deal with the same issue, a standard formula is missing. We deal with acronyms that are company-specific, missing terms, etc. and clarify them with clients over email. In the middle of email chains, however, it is easy to lose track of the changes and of our role. We need a better, more rigorous, method of recording these conversations.

When translating a document such as a contract, a patient handout, or a website, it is important to record conversations about changes to the source text. To do this effectively, I began keeping a change log to serve as a record. I have used this type of table very effectively with my clients on a number of occasions, and an example is shown below. Please note, however, that some text has been changed to protect client confidentiality.

Source textTranslator's commentClient's comment
In the next twelve we will celebrate all employees' birthdays.In the next twelve months we will celebrate all employees' birthdays. [The client must have meant "months". We must say that.]
Email sent to client February 30, 2016
Please modify source text as follows:
In the next twelve months we will celebrate all employees' birthdays.
Response received February 31, 2016
Client request: Please include all these changes in the source document. Thank you for your attention to detail.
Please mark them with track changes for me to accept them. This will help us with future clients.

As shown in this change log, these changes are often accepted as permanent improvements to the source text. In this way, the client gets two services in one: a copy editor of the source text and a translator, while keeping the roles transparent.

A translation, after all, is the client’s message in a new language, and changes need to be implemented with transparency and thoughtfulness, mindful of both linguacultures. At Gaucha Translations, we follow a process outlined in this document, and clients know that we treat their message with the utmost respect and advocate for the target audience to be able to understand their message clearly, at a glance, if at all possible.

Foundational Material for Translators: Helen’s favorites

Earlier this week, I had a conversation with a colleague who is launching into translating a book. He wanted some pointers, so I sent him to some of my favorite sites for guidance.

The NAJIT website has a great description of what a translator is. Live up to this definition, because this is what makes you stand out as a professional.

But… how do I charge, how do I negotiate…? Oh, a lot of that information is right on this blog, on the business practices page I put together for people who were taking my medical interpreting class. You’ll even find a chart that will guide you through a conversation on an interpreting or a translation project, based on ASTM standards!

If you want to study to prepare for the ATA Translation Certification exam, we put a lot of resources for that on this page on the OSTI website. As I look through it, I love the ATA Certification Exam Overview page, where ATA defines a translation that passes the exam – a good translation, in other words.

In case this is not enough, the ATA Savvy Newcomer blog is always there to lend a hand! We’ve been trying to publish useful resources for a few years, and keep at it week after week. This is done by volunteers, and is not a self-promotional blog.

But… if you really want to get immersed in the magic of translation and interpreting, you need to come to conferences. The biggest one is the ATA conference, from November 2 to 5 in San Francisco. And if you are in Oregon, save the date for the OSTI conference from September 23 to 25 in Bend!

A few days later, the same colleague called back and said that this information had been very useful to him. This is what I love to do. Support my colleagues as they launch.

My love for translation…

I announced I am pursuing translation full time. Here are some aspects of the transition.

For starters, I am in Argentina, about to spend a few days with 900 colleagues at the VI Congreso Latinoamericano de Traducción e Interpretación! See below to read about that! Not that visiting my family while I’m in Buenos Aires is a bad idea… so I’m editing this blog post from the comfort of my mother’s home, looking through books I studied with when I got started. Coming back to our roots is good for all of us! It keeps us honest. You’ll get a report on this later, through the eyes of my wonderful assistant: Cynthia.

How is my administrative system changing?

More time for translation projects! I’ve been clearing my desk from all the backlogged admin work. Taxes – both mine and my mother-in-law’s – have taken a fair bit of my time this last couple of weeks. That is done, invoices are caught up, and I have set up processes so admin work will be simple. I decided to delegate what can be delegated. You see, I love to translate and I love to teach. Paperwork? Not so much. So Nicole, my bookkeeper, will be sending invoice reminders and paying folks.

Cynthia, my assistant, will answer the phone, run my schedule, check all my email, and basically let me focus on translation. She might even do the initial invoicing and deliver the finished products just to make sure the admin details are taken care of. She has been learning about this field for the last year and understands it well, so she knows what I care about, what matters, and how to answer your questions.

At the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce I learned that people hired bookkeepers, errand-runners and such to help them focus on their business. All the sole proprietors (like myself) who did this became more effective and grew. They were also happier with their work.

What have I been learning about translation?

I have been checking into what Eugene Nida had to say about translation and the theory of meaning. Back in 1973 he wrote Exploring Semantic Structures. Keep in mind that Semantics is the study of meaning. As we study translation, we are in fact studying how to transfer the meaning of a message from one language to another.

Basic presuppositions of all semantic analysis (pg 120)

  1. No word ever has exactly the same meaning in two different utterances.
  2. There are no complete synonyms within a language.
  3. There are no exact correspondences between related words in different languages.

A note from Helen: This explains the complexities and disagreements we have about translation, doesn’t it?

Steps for translation (page 156)

  1. Syntactic analysis
  2. Semantic classes of each word
  3. Add all implied relationals
  4. Decompose the text to its semantically simplest form
  5. Recompose the form of the text in to an appropriate equivalent in the receptor language

Some semantic units may be shifted from one grammatical word class to another.

Another quick note from Helen: This looks simple, but it isn’t. As we break down the message into its units of meaning and try to set it up into something equivalent on the other side, we get into all kinds of interesting discussions among professionals! For “Ministerio de Agricultura”, should we say “Secretary of Agriculture” of “Ministry of Agriculture”? Why? Secretary makes sense to the American audience, but Ministry is what the guy driving down the road in Mexico or Argentina will recognize on the sign on the door. And is a Ministerio the same thing as the Secretary’s office anyway?

So… we call the client and ask who will read this, what the purpose of the document is, and that helps us make the right decisions for the translation. As translators, we are advocates for our readers, who should be able to read our translations and understand them without having to fuss over them more than necessary.

VI Congreso Latinoamericano de Traducción e Interpretación

I am speaking in sessions 85 and 162. Click here to check out the program.

  1. Eby, Helen: «Análisis semántico y el acto de la traducción para intérpretes».

Semantic analysis and translational action for interpreters.

I have written a 12 page paper on this, in Spanish, but it can’t be published until after the Conference.

  1. Mesa de normalización (Eby, Helen; Barrère, Martín; Acuña, Ezequiel; Perez Guarnieri, Verónica): «La certificación y la traducción».

Standards: certification and translation.

I will be sharing something about the application of ASTM standards for translation and interpreting in the US, and how my worksheets have been helpful, especially in the ATA response to the DHS draft language access policy. The ATA response is now part of the DHS policy!

We have also used ASTM standards to craft descriptions of our professions.

In Oregon, we based our comments on the Workers Compensation Rules for Interpreters on ASTM standards.

All this is possible because the US Government is required to consider industry standards in its work. See the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act for more information.

I will be back from Argentina in early May, full of fresh ideas!

Back to translation! I love this work!

Helen Eby

 

Review of the ALC 2015 Industry Survey©

I was honored to be asked to write about the state of the interpreting and translation profession as viewed through the lens of Association of Language Companies. The Interpreters Division of the American Translators Association published this article.

When you click on this link to read the article, you will find:

  • How the market is divided
  • How much work freelancers really do in the US
  • How much work is done by Machine Translation
  • What percentage of the companies have their documents reviewed by another translator per ASTM standards
  • What percentage of interpreting is done remotely

Happy reading! And enjoy other articles on the Interpreters Division blog!

Helen Eby

Gaucha TI is now Gaucha Translations / Spanish writing starts in 6 days

Spanish writing starts online on April 5 (in 6 days)!

The Spanish class for those who speak Spanish well is beginning and starts on Tuesday, April 5. Sign up today! Click here for registration. The cost is $45/month, and we will charge for two months at a time. In other words, April and May will be charged together, and then we will see how the summer goes based on the students’ interest.

Click here to register for the online class.

I am now a full-time translator. Why?

Gaucha Translations started when I was 16 and translated a IATA (International Air Transport Association) contract, working as a partner with my mother. That was my first translation, after I completed all the available English courses in high school. My mother and I corrected one another’s work and turned it in, doing a professional job. We wrote it out with pencil and paper, using the technology of the day.

Since then, times have changed. I have reassessed my tools, acquiring electronic dictionaries, more paper dictionaries, translation software such as MemoQ, a desktop computer with two screens, a laptop, an iPad, and an iPhone. I have also gained more experience and training during my work as a bilingual secretary, a teacher, a court certified interpreter, and a certified medical interpreter.

However, translation has continued to be a strong interest, and after 40 years I have realized that it is still my passion. It is still taking the message from one language and its social context to another. I still love the thrill of the chase of working with written translation.

One example of this passion is the Tuality Hospital website, which I recently finished translating. As I did the final cleanup with the client and we went live with it together, we had a huge sense of satisfaction. People would be able to read this material and understand it quickly. A sentence such as this: “¡Entre nomás y tome asiento!” would not have been translated word-for-word: “Come in no more and drink a chair!” but in the way it was meant: “Come on in and take a seat!” It would be clear and to the point. Take a look for yourself.

I have enjoyed other outlets of the field as well. One of these is helping businesses negotiate agreements by translating contracts side-by-side accurately. You have to be careful not to get it wrong on a contract negotiation! Another way I have enjoyed serving through translation is helping immigrants get their paperwork in order by translating their documentation.

Translation is, in a word, fascinating! And because of my many years as an interpreter, I know exactly who reads the documents I translate for the public and how they are used.

But, after so many years of interpreting, after obtaining such a high level of certification, why did I decide to drop this area of work?
It’s simple: Health.

I started to have asthmatic coughing fits at appointments, and those present were uncomfortable. My allergies got in the way. It simply is not possible to control these environmental allergies. It became frustrating.

I thought about why this was becoming more frequent, and I checked an article from the Mayo Clinic. I am not alone. This issue is becoming more common. In a normal job, I would simply be moved to a position in which I can be effective without putting my health at risk. So I am taking that step myself.

What will happen to the the training programs for those joining the interpreting field?

As a result, I am also stepping away from teaching introductory interpreting courses. I believe those courses should be taught by people who are teaching on-site interpreting, which I will no longer be doing. Therefore, my current course is the last one I will be teaching. However, in August of 2015, 20 highly qualified colleagues gathered at Western Oregon University to take a Training of Trainers with The Community Interpreter International. I leave the field in very capable hands. They are ready to take the baton and train the next set of interpreters. You will find them listing their courses on the Oregon Health Authority website, where their courses have been approved, and on the OSTI Calendar page, as their courses get set up.

So, what does all this mean exactly?

I will be more effective by focusing more narrowly on translation.

I will continue to work with advocacy. As an example, I worked with a team to develop some answers to the following questions: What is a translator? What is an interpreter? What is a transcriber-translator? What is a terminologist? These roles were not described with sufficient clarity. This document has been endorsed by AIIC, NAJIT, Mano a Mano, NCIHC, and OSTI. I plan to make all my translation clients aware of it! Other associations are submitting their logos as well.

I continue to teach. Don’t forget to click here to register for the class that starts on April 5, taught online: Spanish writing for fluent speakers of Spanish. This class is on Tuesdays, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm and will be interactive, so attendance is required. Learning from recorded sessions will not be effective.

I still care about the profession. Keep an eye on some great websites!
ATA Interpreter Division blog
The ATA Savvy Newcomer
Oregon Society for Translators and Interpreters
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators
American Translators Association

Serving our community as a translator,

Helen Eby
Gaucha Translations

Lau v. Nichols – Language access started in the schools

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity that receives Federal funds or other Federal financial assistance. There is information on this topic in the Health and Human Services website  and, of course, in the Department of Justice website of the United States.

The Civil Rights Act became law in 1964. However, it wasn’t until 1974 that language access was understood to be part of national origin, and therefore covered by the Civil Rights Act. The landmark court case, Lau v. Nichols, set strong precedents for language access applications of Title VI. It all began in the California schools.

Business skills interpreters need

Interpreters need business skills to manage their client base and so they can also be marketable as administrative staff in a language company. Here is a tentative list of computer-based skills interpreters should acquire:

  • How to invoice – Word has an invoicing template!
  • How to follow instructions on a company’s invoicing practices.
  • How to track invoices that were paid or not paid – Excel is a good tool for this.
  • How to follow up on late payments.
  • How to follow up on clients who have fallen off the radar – the project manager could have changed, and a quick call might be all that’s needed. Maybe you were unable to take appointments for a period of time and you forgot to tell them you are available again.
  • How to work with an Excel spreadsheet.
  • How to work with track changes in Word.
  • How to put comments in a Word document.
  • How to know when to make a change in a translated document you are reviewing.
  • How to research a term that you can’t find in a dictionary.
  • How to set Word and Excel up to work with your language (see this post)

Spanish writing class goes live!

We are finally setting up the Spanish writing class for fluent speakers of Spanish as an online class.

You can register by clicking on this link.

It took a while. There were some family issues I had to deal with. Remember, Gaucha TI is the business name for a freelancer! My mother-in-law had some health issues that took a lot of my attention in January. She isn’t well, but the situation is stabilized.

I had to research the best way to do an online class. GoTo Training is really the best platform I can come up with. I’ve been using the rest of the Citrix products, and have not found them wanting. It’s time to use this one. I couldn’t attempt to teach online without the right tools.

I’ve been working on putting a lot of these resources into a book as well. We are working on this with a team, and this team is awesome! Participants will hear not just what I have to say, but maybe what some of my co-authors may have to contribute.

I needed a partner who could help when I have some challenges, especially with my mother-in-law or other travel issues. For example, I will be speaking at a conference in Argentina. The course should be left in extremely capable hands! I found an excellent partner in Oregon: Luz Romero, another OSTI member, is Colombian. She just got a Ph.D. in Spanish and wants to do something very practical with the language. This is exactly what she is interested in!

We start on the first Tuesday of April at 6:30 p.m. Oregon time. The course will be online, and we will have occasional live sessions, which will have a separate charge. Attendees from any part of the United States are welcome to join us in this venture! We will max out our enrollment, as we do for all Gaucha trainings, at 15 participants, hoping that they continue on a regular basis.

Though this course is enrolling on a monthly basis, we expect participants to continue on for at least a year. We do not expect them to reap significant benefits if they only stay on board for one month.

Welcome on board to the Spanish writing class!

Filling out forms with a client

Issues to consider when filling out forms

a. Medical providers need the medical intake forms in a language they can  understand. Typically, medical interpreters have been involved in this process,

b. Medical interpreters have a limited scope of practice. They are not expected to give medical advice (explain the meaning of medical terms, which can be construed as giving medical advice), or have side conversations (this can happen often while filling out forms).

c. Medical interpreters are called on to limit their activities to interpreting and protecting patient autonomy and promoting patient self determination, besides privacy in the waiting room. Forms contain very private information. Oral discussion of these issues in a public setting, where the discussion can be overheard by others, can easily violate these privacy concerns.

d. As a court interpreter and a medical interpreter, I have seen these forms be presented as evidence in depositions. They are, therefore, legal documents. I have discussed options for how to fill them out with doctors and with attorneys, and come up with practical alternatives that satisfy most of these concerns.

Practical steps for filling out forms with an LEP

1. Sight translate the form to the LEP, line by line. This is a one-way sight translation, English to Non-English language. The non-English speaker holds the pen and fills in the blanks. This promotes patient autonomy and privacy by keeping the answers private.

If the form is already translated, we generally assume that the office is prepared to deal with forms in foreign languages. This isn’t always the case. The translation step may still be needed.

This promotes respect and patient autonomy, according to standard #13 of the National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care, published by the National Council for Interpreters in Health Care (NC SOP #13)

The interpreter promotes patient autonomy

NCIHC Standard of Practice #13

2. When the questions have open-ended answers, have the LEP fill out the answer in their language. Immediately, next to the answer given by the LEP, write a draft translation into English for the provider’s use. I carry two pens, with different colors of ink, so my writing is in a different color from the LEP’s writing.

2.1. In the event that the LEP is unable to write, take dictation from the LEP and write the LEP’s answer in the LEP’s language, and write the English translation next to it.

The interpreter promotes direct communication among all parties in the encounter

NCIHC Standard of Practice #12

3. If there are any questions that require clarification, ask the staff to clarify the question and interpret the clarification. Otherwise, leave the answer blank with a question mark indicating that it needs clarification.

Some of the questions on the intake forms are very personal and may require some cultural intervention. What is the role of the interpreter here? I recommend that if there are questions the patient is reluctant to answer, the patient be allowed to leave them blank and the provider may bring them up in the interview. This promotes direct communication and patient autonomy.

“The Interpreter limits his or her professional activity to interpreting within an encounter.”

For example, an interpreter never advises a patient on health care questions, but redirects the patient to ask the provider.

NCIHC Standard of Practice #17

4. You should identify yourself as the interpreter as follows:

I am a [IDENTIFY CERTIFYING BODY] [CREDENTIAL] [LANGUAGE] language interpreter.

  • or

I have been found otherwise qualified by [ENTITY] to interpret in the [LANGUAGE] language.

I hereby certify under penalty of perjury under the laws of the state of Oregon that I have

a)      sight translated the [identify document] to [language]

b)      interpreted the explanations of the [identify person] to [language]

c)       written down the answers provided to me by the LEP [patient, defendant, petitioner, client, etc.] [if applicable]  [may include LEP’s name] per his request and provided a draft on the spot translation to the best of my ability.

Location: Place, City and County

Dated:  _______________________         Interpreter Signature:  ________________________________       

 Print Name & License or Certification #: _________________________________________________

LEP Name : _________________       LEP Signature: ______________________________________

This procedure should be satisfactory in most situations. In reality, this process is much briefer than filling the form out for the patient, because it avoids a lot of conversations!

If the form is already translated, we generally assume that the office is prepared to deal with forms in foreign languages. This isn’t always the case. The translation step may still be needed. Please verify with the receptionist. The LEP may still need assistance writing for a variety of reasons.

Medical terminology resources

The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care has a Resource Data Base for languages that are hard to research, often called languages of limited diffusion (LLD).

Each resource is listed on a table, with title, description, source, languages, strengths, and who added it. It is a truly remarkable resource!

Some languages listed on the first two of five pages:

  • African languages
  • Arabic
  • Hmong
  • Tagalog
  • Laotian
  • Vietnamese
  • Chamorro
  • Chin (Hakha)
  • Kakchikel
  • Karen (Sgaw)
  • German
  • Croatian
  • Nepali
  • Lao
  • Kinyarwanda
  • Asian languages
  • Urdu

Some resources are dictionaries. Others include patient handouts and videos designed to train health workers. Some are even language courses!

Exploring these resources, even in languages other than the ones you interpret, may help you grow in your cultural awareness. Promote this site!

Go to the NCIHC LLD Resource Database!

 

Teamwork in translation with Tuality

I just finished working as a team with a client. It’s been awesome to help Tuality launch their website in Spanish! Check it out!

When we started working, we went over this worksheet. We have been faithful to those principles in every project we have done together.

Here is the Spanish site.

Here is the English site.

The taglines are slightly different. Taglines have to communicate well to the right audience. We talk things over and ask what is intended with that text.

The Spanish site says “your bill” and the English says “my bill”. These changes are culturally appropriate. All these differences were discussed with the Community Relations department until they said, “Helen, just keep on doing what you are doing. You know what we are thinking by now.”

As a final step, we sat down and spent a significant amount of time working together to make final pages once we saw how it looked on the page, live.

It’s a privilege to work as a team with a client who really wants to communicate well with the community! This is the hospital where my children were born. I am proud to help my community receive good healthcare by having good language access.

Helen Eby, owner of Gaucha TI, following ASTM standards for translation.

ASTM Interpreting and Translation Standards

This presentation was prepared for two school Districts in Oregon. Recently, some Oregon school districts have made the news because they have had multiple Title VI complaints. The  language access principles presented here should help school districts implement policies that enable them to use their funds effectively and avoid these problems.

Schools base their language access service on Title VI, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any program or activity that receives Federal funds or Federal financial assistance. This page from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and this page from the United States Department of Justice refer to Title VI in more detail.

Continue reading

How to make a great first impression at an appointment

The first things the provider notices are your timeliness and your appearance.

Arrival time:

Check in with the provider on time, but…

Never check in early to any appointment. Go elsewhere until 10 min. before the appointment and then check in. Hospitals/clinics do not want to pay for checked in time earlier than 10 min. before an appointment.

Interaction with the LEP:

Once you check in: If the LEP is there, introduce yourself very briefly and keep a professional distance, with a courteous demeanor.

Continue reading

Gaucha TI services – Training, testing – one stop shop

When you come to Gaucha, you can get everything in one place.

Click here to register for any course – courses start on January 25 (medical interpreting) and the first Thursday of February (Spanish writing). Scholarships available per conversation with instructor. Register now! Click here to register.

Training
Spanish Writing for fluent speakers of Spanish
Language proficiency testing

Training

The Community Interpreter International – Medical starts on January 25. Register now!

Continuing Education credits granted for the full course by Washington State DSHS Interpreters, Oregon Court interpreters, and for the medical terminology portion by IMIA and CCHI.

Click here for more information!

Spanish Writing for fluent speakers of Spanish

Continue reading

Training reduces risk. Register now. Oregon recommends it.

Register now!

The Community Interpreter International – Medical: Countdown to January 25!

Spanish writing for fluent speakers of Spanish: Countdown to February 4. (see below)

Continue reading

Ethics perspective of The Community Interpreter® International taught by Gaucha TI

The real world, where the interpreters Gaucha TI teaches will interpret, is a complex world.  Interpreters will likely be called on to work in many different areas of interpreting, not just in healthcare. Interpreters move from one area of interpreting to another based on market needs and opportunities, and they need to be prepared to do so without too many complications such as contradictory codes of professional conduct.

In Oregon it is not unusual for interpreters who are not court-certified to interpret for legal proceedings such as attorney-client interviews, criminal justice or law enforcement agencies, administrative agencies, as well as boards, commissions, or licensing bodies. Insurance investigators frequently hire non-court certified interpreters to contact LEP claimants and take their recorded statements describing their loss and injuries. This is not an endorsement of the practice, but a description of the realities. In addition, and unawares to the interpreter, healthcare appointments may be part of ongoing or future litigation. Accordingly, it is important for interpreters to be prepared to render their services in a wide array of settings.

Continue reading

Happy Holidays! 2016 course registrations up!

Medical Interpreting Training – 64 hours:

Dates:               Mondays, January 25 to May 23, 2016
Time:                 5:15 to 9:15 pm
Registration:  $150
Tuition:             $600 if paid in full by January 5. Otherwise, four monthly payments of $175 each. Discount of $100 for languages with no medical certification exam available. Gaucha TI will invoice participants based on their tuition payment preferences.
Class size:     15 students maximum.

Continuing Education credits:
Oregon Court interpreters 36 for full course, 24 for Medical terminology
IMIA: 2.4, CCHI: 24

Click here to register for the full 64 medical interpreting training course

Click here to register for the 24 hour medical terminology section.

Click here to register for the Spanish writing class starting on February 4 (details below)

In October of 2014, Oregon Public Broadcasting ran a story named “In The Hospital, a Bad Translation Can Destroy a Life” with information from Helen Eby and staff at Tuality Hospital in Hillsboro. In this article the need for medical interpreters is made clear through stories that happened to real people. You can be part of the solution!

Continue reading

Language proficiency tests available

When an interpreter wonders what is holding them back from making progress, it can be useful to analyze the language proficiency skills in detail. Gaucha TI proctors tests for ACTFL tests by Language Testing International so interpreters can analyze their strengths and weaknesses and determine how to make progress in an objective way.

The ACTFL gives proficiency guidelines for different skills, and there are tests for each skill. How does each skill apply to interpreting? The following skill descriptions are taken from the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012

An interpreter will not interpret any better than the lowest score in obtained in the interpreter’s two working languages. For example, using a numerical scale, if an interpreter has a 4 in one language and a 2 in the other language, the interpreter will not be able to interpret anything more complex than level 2 material. The following the recommendations of Gaucha TI and are not requirements for class attendance because of the wide variety of standards applied in Oregon.

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing

Listening Continue reading

Interpreter training or skills improvement? My story…

How did I start interpreting?

Years ago, I was on a ship. I was thoroughly bilingual in all four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. I had gone to med school for a couple of years, gone to secretarial school for a year, graduated from college in Argentina as an elementary school teacher, and I had taken the British Proficiency class when I was 15. After that, I had been a member of an Anglo-Argentine drama group: the Suburban Players.

These are facts. I had the linguistic proficiency. Then I joined a missionary ship, the MV Logos. I was there in Tierra del Fuego, when it shipwrecked. But I spent 15 months going around Latin America interpreting for the ship community, a group of 140 people from 40 countries from all continents. They needed “translators”. That really meant both things: translators and interpreters. So I joined. I worked 40 hours a week in the purser’s office, helping with customs and immigration paperwork in every country in Latin America. In my free time, I interpreted at public events on a daily basis. Pretty soon, I was one of the “preferred interpreters” and was busy seven evenings a week besides doing my day job.

Continue reading