Classroom Interpreting

Regular Education Teachers - Educational Interpreters as Information Resources

Educational interpreters are not trained evaluators, and most do not have the skills to assess language and learning. However, because the educational interpreter observes the deaf or hard of hearing student throughout the day, he or she can provide information that will help the teacher determine how well the student is learning. In addition, this information should be shared with the IEP team.

The interpreter can also provide information about how easy or hard it is to interpret a teacher’s message. Unfortunately, educational interpreters may be reluctant say whether the teacher’s style makes interpreting more challenging. Therefore, it is important for the teacher to elicit this information from the interpreter. A teacher cannot solve all interpreting challenges by changing aspects of his/her teaching style. But, by communicating with the interpreter about problems, the teacher can make certain changes that will lessen some of the challenges.

The interpreter use survey is a form teachers can use to facilitate discussion with the educational interpreter. Some of the issues the survey addresses include:

  1. How well does the deaf or hard of hearing student attend to the educational interpreter? Is the student’s attention developmentally appropriate?
  2. How clear is the student’s communication? Does the interpreter have to add information?
  3. What does the interpreter do if the student is not clear? Should she interpret exactly as the student signs it? Should she help “improve” the student’s communication? What solution fits the student and the class, given the student’s developmental level?
  4. What modifications to my message does the interpreter routinely make? Is the interpreter making decisions to simplify my language and concepts, and for what reasons?
  5. Is the educational interpreter fingerspelling key vocabulary, especially when there is not a specific sign for the concept?
  6. How easy or hard is it to interpret my classroom communication? Are there things that I can change that will help you interpret better?
  7. What happens if the student who is deaf or hard of hearing does not understand something I say? Should the interpreter inform the teacher? Should she try to help the student understand on her own? What solution fits your teaching style the best?
  8. Are there concepts that the interpreter feels were not interpreted adequately?