Classroom Interpreting

Students - Age-related differences in using interpreters

We really don’t know very much about how students learn to understand and manage their interpreting situation. However, we do know a great deal about child development.

Most professionals agree that children and older students should be taught about interpreting throughout their educational experience. For the youngest students, those in elementary school, our expectations focus on learning to learn with an interpreter. For example, a young child may not understand that the interpreter is not the person talking. A younger child may be reluctant to interact with peers because he/she does not know how to manage the interaction.

As children become older, they should learn to manage their interpreting accommodations more independently. For example, by upper elementary grades, a student should be able to access most conversations using an interpreter and should understand the roles and boundaries of the interpreter. By high school, a student should be using an interpreter nearly like an adult, being included in discussion about interpreter preferences, helping schedule interpreting services, and acting in a more autonomous and independent manner.

See the section on Interpreters and Children for more information about how interpreting may be different for students at different ages.