Team Interpreting in Church

Team Interpreting in Church

What is wrong with these interpreter statements? One interpreter says, “I will interpret the songs.” Another says, “I will interpret the preaching.” Another, “I will interpret the special music.” The problem is the little word “I.” Interpreters can function better as a team. So, how does team interpreting work?
In many professional settings, team interpreters determine how long they will interpret before switching interpreters. For example, one starts interpreting a class. After 20 minutes, the partner takes over. After another 20 minutes, they switch back. This keeps the interpreter’s mind fresh and helps avoid physical injuries (carpel-tunnel syndrome, etc).

Church interpreters often switch at logical transition times during a church service. However, they can still function as a team for the overall church service. The “off-duty” partner should still be aware of the “on-duty” interpreter’s needs. If the interpreter misunderstands what was said, the partner can discretely “feed” information using sign language. An alert partner can also feed visual information that is not present in the auditory message. For example, the speaker may be pointing to something specific or using mime or gestures that would be better for the Deaf person to see firsthand.

The “off-duty” partner is often responsible to initiate the switch by taking a position behind the interpreter. When ready, the partner taps the interpreter on the shoulder. The interpreter finishes the point, stops interpreting and sits down. There should be no loss in the message during the process.

The team should agree on methods and timing in advance. Try interpreting as a team. The word “we” is better than “I.

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