Essential Differences Between Interpreting and Bilingualism

Interpreting and using your own bilingualism are two distinct ways of engaging with languages, each with its own set of challenges and skills. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Interpreting: Interpreting involves the real-time translation of spoken language from one language to another. There are at least 3 parties involved in a clinical interpreting scenario: Provider, Patient & Interpreter. The provider and patient are speaking to each other through the interpreter, and thus the interpreter’s job is to be a language conduit.

There are two main types of interpreting: simultaneous and consecutive.

  1. Simultaneous Interpreting: This is often used in conferences or large meetings where the interpreter listens to the speaker and translates simultaneously using specialized equipment. It requires strong language skills, amazing short-term memory, quick thinking, and the ability to convey meaning accurately in the target language.
  2. Consecutive Interpreting: In this form, the interpreter listens to a segment of speech and then translates it into the target language. It’s often used in clinical settings, such as between a provider and a patient. Consecutive interpreting requires good memory skills and the ability to convey the tone and meaning accurately in both directions: source language > target language and target language > source language.

Interpreting requires that the interpreter be a mouthpiece for the speaker or speakers in a conversation. Interpreters don’t choose the content of the communication, they are a third part conduit for others.

Using Your Own Bilingualism: Using your own bilingualism refers to the act of personally communicating in two languages. This can include everyday conversations, writing, or reading in both languages. While not as intense as interpreting, using your own bilingualism also requires certain skills:

  1. Code-Switching: This is the ability to seamlessly switch between languages depending on the situation or context. It requires a deep understanding of both languages and when it’s appropriate to switch.
  2. Cultural Awareness: When using your own bilingualism, it’s important to be aware of cultural nuances and how they affect language use. This helps avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Using your own bilingualism responsibly is the purpose of the Certified Spanish. You have the freedom to create meaning to convey your message however you like. However there are standards for the professional bilingualism. In the clinical setting, the responsible use of Spanish includes: using professional tone, interacting with your Spanish speaking patients with the same professionalism that you would use with other patients, taking care to recognize your own limits in Spanish and get professional language help when necessary.

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