9 min read

How does Over-the-Phone Interpretation work? 

Our Over-the-Phone Interpretation service allows you to communicate with a non-English speaker via a telephone interpreter. The interpreter converts the spoken word from one language to another, enabling listeners and speakers to understand each other. 

What is the difference between interpretation and translation? 

Although both practices share the common goal of taking information that is available in one language and converting it to another, they are two separate processes. Interpretation refers to listening to something spoken and interpreting it orally into the target language. Translation involves taking a written text and translating it in writing into the target language. 

How long will I have to wait for an Over-the-Phone interpreter to be connected? 

On average, you will wait 22 seconds to be connected to an interpreter via the telephone (15 seconds for Spanish). However, you may be required to wait longer if the available resources for the requested language are experiencing unexpected demand. For rare language requests, it is sometimes helpful to call ahead and pre-schedule your Over-the-Phone interpreting session. 

How many languages do you provide? 

Our Over-the-Phone interpreters are available and ready to assist you in hundreds of languages. 

What if I don’t know the language my client is speaking? 

Our call center coordinators are trained to help identify your language needs. Simply let the coordinator know that you are unsure of the language your client is speaking and they will be able to assist you. 

How many telephone lines can be connected at once? 

We can connect up to 49 third party calls at a time. 

Is this consecutive or simultaneous interpreting? 

Over-the-Phone interpreters are consecutive interpreters, which means the interpreter only interprets after you have completed a thought, then the non-English speaker responds, and so on. Simultaneous interpreters interpret while you are speaking, which does not work effectively via the telephone because two parties speaking at once is often inaudible. 

When does the charge for the call begin? 

The charge for the call begins as soon as the Over-the-Phone interpreter is connected to the line and communication is established. 

What do I do when the interpreter is connected to the call? 

When the interpreter comes on the line you should immediately take control of the call. You may start by introducing yourself, briefly explaining the nature of the call, and requesting that the interpreter say a few words to the non-English speaker to ensure that he/she is able to communicate. Next, you should begin speaking to the non-English speaker in the first person, as if the interpreter was not there. 

CORRECT: “Hello, my name is John. How can I help you today?”
INCORRECT: “Tell her my name is John and ask her what I can do to help her today.” 

Remember to pause at the end of a thought to allow the interpreter time to interpret. 

Can I tell the interpreter what questions to ask? 

You should never tell the interpreter what questions to ask. The interpreter will interpret exactly what you say as if he/she was you. Interpreters do not serve as third party agents but are there only to communicate your words directly. They should not add, edit, or omit anything that you say. 

Can the interpreter answer the questions for my client? 

The interpreter cannot answer questions for your client. The interpreter is there only to facilitate communication between the non-English speaker and the English speaker. The interpreter will only interpret what the client says. 

May I request a particular interpreter? 

You may request a particular interpreter.  Provide our call center coordinator with the interpreter’s ID number and we will call the requested interpreter to see if he/she is available to take the call. 

What if I encounter an issue with an interpreter? 

Our dedicated Client Experience department is available to assist you should you encounter any issues with an interpreter. You may contact LSA’s Client Experience team by phone at 866.221.1301 or on the Web. 

What do I do when the call is finished? 

When the call is finished you can simply hang up. The charge will be completed as soon as you disconnect the line. 

How do you guarantee the quality of your Over-the-Phone interpreters? 

We are committed to providing the highest quality interpretation support.  In order to be eligible to take calls for our clients, all telephone interpreters must go through our robust three-step Interpreter Selection Process. This process starts with a review of the interpreter’s general qualifications. We then administer a series of tests to validate the interpreter’s language proficiency and assess his/her interpreting skills. 

Do your interpreters know specific terminology? 

Once an interpreter is activated and placed into our network, he/she has unlimited access to a multitude of helpful resource documents and training materials. These items include industry and company-specific glossaries and vocabulary lists. Interpreters review these documents on an ongoing basis so that they are fully equipped to provide the highest quality interpretation service possible. We will always provide you with an interpreter that possesses the appropriate education and industry experience that your request requires. 

How do you guarantee confidentiality? 

All of our linguists are held to a strict Code of Ethics and recognized professional standards, which includes strict compliance with the confidentiality of client information.