Ethics training scholarship helps in-demand interpreters build their skills
All Graduates | 3 Sep 2021
A solid understanding of the ethical principals outlined in the AUSIT Code of Ethics is critical to working as a translator or interpreter in Australia. However, this can be a challenge for practitioners working in new, emerging or rare languages that are not currently represented in formal tertiary-level training.
To help bridge the gap, the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), in partnership with All Graduates’ training arm Conversations, is offering a scholarship to enable translators and interpreters to complete an ethics training course online.
The Ethics and Professionalism for Interpreters and Translators Course aims to develop practitioners’ knowledge and application of the AUSIT Code of Ethics in their translating and interpreting assignments, and improve their knowledge of the ethical requirements for translators and interpreters in Australia.
The scholarship aims to provide opportunities to the significant number of practitioners in Victoria who have not had the opportunity to complete formal training. A total of 100 scholarships are available, with priority given to applicants working in 33 priority languages. These priority languages, which were identified by NAATI and All Graduates in consultation with the DFFH, are:
Zo (alternate name Zomi)
NAATI Recognised Practicing Interpreters and Translators, Certified Provisional Interpreters and unaccredited practitioners are all welcome to apply. This scholarship is only available to Victorian based Interpreters and Translators.
Limited positions are available. Applications will be closed once all scholarships places are filled.
To apply, fill in the online form by clicking on the link below.
Australia’s population is booming, with migrants of all types coming to our shores from all corners of the globe. Whilst this makes for a vibrant and diverse society (not to mention an expansive list of takeaway food options), it has also introduced complexities in the operations of public and private sectors. A growing CALD population (possibly struggling with low literacy in their native language), regulatory, ethical and cultural obligations – all of these have made the simple, much less so.
One of the areas in which we are regularly called to engage with our clients is that of operational efficiency. We produce a copious number of reports and analyses for government departments and companies, describing the interface between organisations and non-English speaking clients. We are often the catalyst for the introduction of technologies to enhance this interface, and also to improve the underlying systems with which an organisation may facilitate that interface.
The LiME Multilingual Messaging system evolved from the need to decrease communication barriers, and improve operational efficiencies for businesses and organisations. It has been designed as a sophisticated but easy-to-use tool to facilitate engagement with non-English speaking customers and those with literacy challenges.
“From the moment a non-English speaking client walks into your office, the challenge you face is the balance between meeting their needs with the inherent cost and complexity of doing so.”
A few years back we were introduced to a multilingual telephone message line (IVR) thanks to a looming Australian Electoral Commission tender. This inelegant proposal planted the seed which we grew into a platform-agnostic messaging system. While the phrasing may be unfamiliar, in practice this is what you do every day – you send your messages on whichever communication platform is available, appropriate or convenient. Whether you are using the web, social media, chat apps or calling an information line, the platform is irrelevant. The message is the crucial component.
Through a continuous and innovative development process, and ongoing input from our clients (and a Melbourne appropriate volume of coffee consumption), LiME was developed to offer holistic solutions to organisations engaging with CALD groups without sacrificing operational efficiencies.
LiME multilingual messaging system – it ain’t just a member of the citrus family
Extensive research has shown that language barriers cause anxiety and create obstacles for non-English speakers to both engage with society at large, and access services in general. We very often see that our increasingly information-driven economy results in increased workloads and reduced efficiencies when interpreters are utilised in one-way communications. Additionally language translation services, while fundamental to ensuring the proliferation of an equitable society, are not only impacted by low literacy rates among non-English speakers, but also among the general Australian population. In spite of this knowledge, it never occurred to us until we started engaging with our clients just how transformational our LiME system had the potential to be.
We understand the importance of message parity. Whilst AI technologies such as Google translate and Siri are handy day-to-day tools, they are not adequate for use in business and government communications. We recently had this exact issue raised with us by one of our private school clients, as well as the Project Manager of a pilot DHS program. LiME addresses this issue by drastically reducing the risk of miscommunication while improving access to information. We are currently working with multiple organisations that are using this system to reduce the burden on language service teams when communicating repetitive messages, while simultaneously improving access to appropriate language communications for their increasingly diverse clients.
We consider LiME as an adjunct to interpreter services, offering improved efficiencies in one-way message delivery, prior to hand-off to an interpreter if it becomes necessary. We know anecdotally and through our own internal reviews that there are often issues in communication parity when involving interpreters for “real-time translation” of complicated language documents (medical, legal or statutory). Our clients consistently point towards LiME offering immense potential in resolving these issues.
“LiME utilises multi-platform technology to create meaninful, comprehensive communications where and when you need them. Discover how it can work for you.”
And some easy DIY fixes! (because who doesn’t like a little DIY?)
Ellias Appel | 4 Mar 2019
For effective communication it’s best to leave judgements, presumptions and assumptions at the door. For organisations and businesses this is exceedingly important when speaking with our culturally diverse, non-English speaking customers. Most of us are time poor, and our learned and habitual professional behaviours and social instincts may be hard to shake, but they generally serve us well. But just as our society has woken up over recent years to how these habits and behaviours may affect others who we interact with, it is equally important to include a consideration for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse customers in this re-examination.
Research suggests that non-English speakers are often left stranded, finding it difficult to access services like health and welfare, struggling to comprehend the jargon and terminology used by professionals. They are at a distinct disadvantage in the areas of health literacy and social cohesion as a consequence of their language disparities. There can also be cultural misfires (no, not everyone celebrates Christmas, and who’s New Year are we celebrating this month?), unwanted handshakes, misunderstood social conventions (unexpected double cheek kisses) and unintended confusion.
There is no doubt that taking some time to build awareness around the issues culturally diverse non-English speakers face will be invaluable to for you, and your organisation.
1 – Be Aware of Your Own Communication Style
Most service providers operate within the framework of their cultural ideology – which for most of us is primarily Anglo Australian. Within that framework, staff members bring individual value systems, beliefs and cultural habits. We are psychologically predisposed to consider those outside our “tribe” as the other, and according to Gestalt theory we tend towards the formation of stereotypes or archetypes.
In Gestalt Theory our brains group things together to make them easier to understand. This applies to people as well as shapes.
It is human nature for us to make assumptions about others based on the dominant cultural, social and behavioural traits that we and those around us exhibit. And this lends itself to a kind of shorthand communication style, in which waving someone away while you’re on a phone call is not taken personally. It is important to recognise that these communication habits may not be appropriate when interacting with those from diverse cultural backgrounds, or non-English speakers.
“It is important to be aware of your own values, beliefs, expectations and cultural practices, and consider how these impact on your responses, interactions and service provision to people from cultures different from your own.”
Queensland Department of Health.
More than how we speak, our communication style is a big contributing factor to how effectively we are engaging our clients. This includes more than just our speech (speed and tempo of delivery) and use of language (terminology, abbreviations and slang). It also extends to the handling of certain topics; for example illness, domestic violence or death may be discussed or thought of differently depending on your culture.
Be sure to take into consideration your client’s cultural sensitivities, and be particularly attuned to non-verbal communications such as body language. If they struggle to make eye contact, for example, this might be a mark of respect within their culture, as opposed to what one might assume is shyness or inhibition. You may need to vary your communication style depending on your client’s cultural background and / or English language proficiency. By taking a few extra moments with your non-English speaking client, you can ascertain whether it may be more useful to relay information via an audio messaging service like LiME, or use an interpreter.
2 – Do Not Assume English Proficiency
There is evidence to suggest non-English speakers experience anxiety when attempting to communicate in English. This may manifest in a number of ways – from antisocial behaviour, to avoiding group activities, ultimately contributing to an overall sense of isolation. Imagine a non-native speaker surrounded by a group of doctors (already an intimidating situation) who are discussing a diagnosis and using complex terminology. The doctors may have assumed a high level of English proficiency based on prior interactions with the patient, but evidence indicates that the patient would be experiencing anxiety simply as a consequence of the complicated interaction, and this may obfuscate their ability to communicate effectively.
Conversely just because your client is smiling and nodding at what you’re saying doesn’t necessarily indicate full understanding, it may be a nervous act to imply competency rather than apprehension. A useful technique for ascertaining the need for an interpreter is to avoid asking questions that require a yes/no answer. Instead, pose questions that require sentence-based responses, or have them repeat information you have presented to them in their own words. This isn’t intended to embarrass them, but rather to illuminate if there is a crisis of comprehension.
3 – Don’t Equate English Skill with Intelligence
Poor language skills are not synonymous with a lack of intelligence. Your client may well have been a professional in their native country, or display a good degree of understanding of your services. Through engaging language services the potential for fruitful and useful conversation and problem-solving becomes possible.
Conversely common English phraseology might make little sense when translated, despite your client possessing a reasonable grasp of the English language. Different cultures have different norms or rituals in regard to things such as diet, hygiene and gender roles. Concepts such as ‘low fat diet’ and ‘high blood pressure’ might be completely perplexing, and direct translations might not display parity with your intended meaning. As an example, ‘hook-turns’ (a peculiar, tram friendly Melbourne invention) when put into Google Translate becomes ‘link turn’ in Arabic. This is just one situation where not utilising appropriate language services might cause an escalation of issues.
Sandals, pluggers, flip flops, thongs?
Ensure that your communications and messaging are engaging for your clients by seeking to enter into meaningful conversations.
4 – Expecting Competent Literacy in their Native Language is a Mistake
Poor literacy impacts more people than you might expect (14%-46% of Australians). Don’t presume that non-English speaking clients will be literate in their own language (if they even have a written language). It’s important to consider multiple channels when delivering information to your clients. Commonly used documents like info-brochures, FAQs, privacy statements and onboarding documents might be more effective when converted into audio.
“Multilingual messaging services such as LiME give you the flexibility to deliver pre-recorded audio to low literacy and non-English speaking clients across multiple communication channels”
Repurpose your communications to meet the needs of your clients, whether that means transforming your brochure into a telephone message line, or embedding your organisation’s contact details in a neat little audiogram that can be shared across social channels. Audio is an effective equaliser when it comes to catering for those with complex communication barriers.
5 – Failing to Involve an Interpreter
A number of Australian studies indicate that many service providers consider interpreting needs can be adequately met by bilingual family members or staff. Some estimates suggest that 20% of GPs do not consider a qualified interpreter is necessary to gain informed consent.
Some organisations may be concerned about privacy, and some clients may be concerned about interpreters having social connections within their community groups. It is for this reason that it is of particular importance to engage with interpreters and language service providers who adhere to strict industry ethical guidelines.
“We can help you best serve your non-English speaking and low literacy clients.”
Australia. Queensland Health. Queensland Health Language Services Policy [online] 2000 [cited July 2007]
Blennerhassett, J. & Hilbers, J. (2011). Medicine management in older people from non-English speaking backgrounds. Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research, 41(1), p. 35.
Friedman-Rhodes, E. & Hale, S. (2010). Teaching Medical Students to work with interpreters. The Journal of Specialised Translation, 14, p. 125.
Department of Health. (2010). Language services in health care policy consultations: discussion paper. Government of Western Australia: p. 10.