Classroom Interpreting


Classroom Interpreters - Preparing for Effective Classroom Interpreting

The educational interpreter must be prepared in order to be effective in the classroom. Being prepared involves much more than reviewing the content the teacher will present to the class. The interpreter should have time to prepare, materials from the teacher to prepare with, and a quiet place to prepare. In addition, the interpreter needs access to resources such as sign language dictionaries and CD-ROMs.

Schedule Time to Prepare for Interpreting

Preparing for interpreting is essential to being able to communicate the classroom content and vocabulary. Even highly skilled interpreters need time to preview information and vocabulary, learn new signs, and understand the concepts that will be taught and how the teacher plans on teaching them. Schools should provide educational interpreters with regularly scheduled time to prepare in a quiet place with access to books and the internet.
A student has a better opportunity to learn when the educational interpreter is well prepared.

Review and Understand the IEP

As a member of the educational team, the educational interpreter should be a participant in the IEP process. The interpreter should understand the student’s educational goals and objectives and have a clear understanding of how to implement those goals. The interpreter should take special note of the child’s language preferences and language level. The interpreter should discuss the student’s ability to communicate through spoken English and how that may impact classroom interpreting. If an interpreter is needed during IEP meetings, another interpreter should have this responsibility.

Review the Teacher’s Goals and Materials to Be Presented in Class

Prior to each lesson, the interpreter should understand the teacher’s intentions for that particular lesson. What are the teacher’s goals and what does he/she want the children to learn from each lesson? How does this lesson fit into the overall curriculum? Is this lesson introductory? Review? New material? This information can be gathered through a regularly scheduled meeting with the classroom teacher and by reviewing the teacher’s materials and lesson plans.

Once the interpreter understands the goals and objectives of each lesson, he or she must ensure understanding of the content and terminology. The interpreter should review the teacher’s lesson plans and any materials that will be presented in class. If further information is needed, the interpreter should consult with the teacher or review other resources to ensure understanding of the concepts that will be presented.

The interpreter must ensure knowledge of the advanced sign vocabulary to represent key concepts of the lesson.

Analyze the Discourse and Vocabulary

In order to prepare for interpreting, an interpreter needs to analyze any texts that are available in order to try to predict the variety of discourse structures that a teacher might use in a given lesson. The interpreter should reflect on the overall goal of the lesson and how that might be reflected in the teacher’s language. For example, if the teacher plans to discuss the economic differences between the North and the South during the Civil War, the interpreter can predict that the teacher may be comparing the North with the South and plan the interpretation with that in mind.

In addition, educational interpreters may not know the signs for the vocabulary used in a particular lesson. Many interpreters must prepare by learning new sign vocabulary and planning how to present new concepts, all prior to producing the classroom interpretation. This may not be as easy as it sounds because there is no sign language dictionary that has all of the signs used. Interpreters may need to access resources such as lending libraries that have videotapes of different signs, other interpreters, deaf adults, and other books and materials.

Use Resources for More Information

In addition to discussion with the teacher and educational team regarding the goals for the student and goals for each lesson plan, the educational interpreter may need to consult with other resources.

Be an Integral Part of the Educational Team

The educational interpreter does not work in isolation. Rather, the interpreter is an integral member of the educational team. All team members must collaborate to provide the best educational opportunity for the student.

See Collaborating with the Educational Teamsection of this site

Be Involved in Continuing Education Opportunities

All educational interpreters should participate in continuing education opportunities regardless of skill or knowledge level. The practice of educational interpreting is developing rapidly with new information and insight. Both skill and knowledge should be continually updated and enhanced through workshops, seminars, conferences, online courses, etc. Please click here for a list of resources (Insert resource list. Resource link not active)

Carol Patrie has authored a series of books in her Effective Interpreting series, which can help educational interpreters analyze the message and discourse. They are published by Dawn Sign Press.