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Language Situations - Effiziente Zusammenarbeit mit einem Dolmetscher

Schlagwörter: Dolmetscher, Konferenz, OWAD, Englisch sprechen

Interpreters are supposed to simplify communication between people with different linguistic backgrounds. To be effective though, you need guidelines.

When working with an interpreter, here are some good rules to follow:


If interpreters are not familiar with the subjects, you can never be sure if the message will be correctly translated. Whilst many interpreters speak excellent English, they will often lack the technical, financial or business background to interpret correctly.

You will need to provide them with background papers before the meeting. You will need to discuss any concepts with which they are not familiar and then go through the agenda and procedure of the meeting carefully with them.

This preparation is time-consuming. But remember the old saying: “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” The more time you invest in preparing your interpreter, the less likely misunderstandings will occur. This preparation has the added advantage of giving you the chance to practice using the English you will need in the actual meeting.

Articulate well

Speak slowly and clearly and stop after each couple of sentences to allow the interpreter to speak. An interpreter will not translate correctly if the speaker talks for more than two or three sentences. This gives you time to think ahead and to mentally prepare your next sentences in English.

Short and simple

Keep your sentences as short and as uncomplicated as possible (preferably not more than 15 words). This really helps your interpreter to grasp what you are saying and to re-formulate it into the target language. And try not to add on ideas you have not discussed with the interpreter previously.

Give the interpreter leeway

Allow time for interpreters to discuss nuances of meaning with participants. They might also need to give explanations of professional concepts. This might feel strange as you stand there whilst a heated discussion takes place in a language you don’t understand. But it is better that people understand exactly what you mean rather than each participant making incorrect assumptions. After any such discussion, ask the interpreter to summarise what has been said – to keep you in the picture.

Interact with the interpreter

Sometimes you will need to have a discussion with your interpreter in front of the group. Perhaps someone has asked a question and you need to explain some background you have not covered during the preparation. Or you might have forgotten the exact word in English you need and have to explain yourself in other words for the interpreter. If this happens, ask the interpreter to tell the participants what you are doing so that they do not feel excluded.

Give it a break

If the meeting goes on for more than a couple of hours, either have a long break for the interpreter to clear their mind or have more than one interpreter available. Interpreting is a very demanding and tiring role. If the interpreter feels stressed or exhausted – that’s when mistakes are made.

Allow more time

Accept that a meeting with interpreters will take at least twice as long as a meeting without. Not only is everything said twice, but there will be frequent repetition of messages, explanations of meanings of words and discussions of different understanding of concepts. It takes much more time than you think.

Working with interpreters in your second language is never easy. But if you follow these basic rules you will avoid most of the common problems. You will also show your business partners that you have a competent and professional approach. And that you have an understanding of the need for clear and understandable communication in business.e

Schlagwörter: Dolmetscher, Konferenz, OWAD, Englisch sprechen

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