Communication with parents is a key element to student success. That’s why public schools are required to communicate with parents about their child’s education in the parents’ language. This includes providing translated forms and documents, and interpreters for meetings and conversations, even if the parent speaks some English or the child speaks English.
Providing an Interpreter
The best interpreters are professionals, not a bilingual staff member from another department, a family member, or a student. Professional interpreters are trained and knowledgeable about educational terms and concepts, remain neutral and don’t react when sensitive information is being discussed, and will communicate everything said during the conversation.
When deciding on HOW to provide the interpretation services your school requires, you have a couple of options:
- Recruit and hire professional interpreters directly and add them to your staff.
- Contract with a language services agency to provide professional interpreters on demand.
When making this decision, you’ll need to evaluate the demonstrated and anticipated interpretation service needs for your institution and consider carefully which option works best for your administration and your budget.
Staff Interpreter vs Interpreting Agency
There are advantages to using an agency for interpretation services instead of hiring an employee. Here are the top eight reasons an agency could be the better choice.
1. No Hiring Process
A quality agency will have multiple professional interpreters available. This means that the school does not need to source, screen, interview, or hire the interpreters, saving the school considerable time and money.
2. Linguistic Matchmaking
When working with an agency, you’re not hiring staff, yet you have input. Sharing feedback after meetings helps your language service provider (LSP) better understand your needs and preferences. It also helps them educate their interpreters so they can provide higher quality services and adapt to your style.
Here at Rapport International, we have a process called Linguistic Matchmaking where we learn about your needs when we take the request, then match you with the right professional interpreter for your meeting. We also strive to continue to provide the same interpreter for follow-up or additional appointments, to provide consistency in your communications, help you build a stronger relationship with the parents, and ease difficult conversations.
Hiring is expensive! From recruiting to training to benefits, employees cost a lot of money. Partnering with an agency, your school can save on the benefits it would provide a staff member like retirement, health insurance, paid time off, and more. You also save by paying by assignment rather than a set number of hours per week. In-person interpreters are billed per hour. Phone or video interpreting fees are billed by the minute.
4. Screened Interpreters
As part of the screening process, an agency verifies credentials and qualifications – they know what skills to look for and the type of experience needed to be a high-quality interpreter. Agencies conduct background screening, including CORI, SORI, and drug testing. Interpreters working for agencies will also have vaccination records on file.
5. Specialized Interpreters
Interpreters have specialized skills – learn more about Using Interpreting Services here. They are typically well-versed in terminology and concepts for specific fields, such as medicine, law, and education. When you partner with an agency, they’ll provide an interpreter with the appropriate skills and experience.
6. Flexible Staffing
When working with an agency, you gain flexibility with:
- Multiple interpreters available to meet your needs.
- Easy to schedule and manage in-person appointments so you can be confident your needs will be covered ahead of time or for unexpected events.
- On-demand interpretation services available for immediate needs – Telephone Interpreting is available anytime you need it, 24/7/365, and is great for quick conversations. Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), available for some languages around the clock and others during normal school hours, is a great option for those intermediate appointments where visual cues may be important.
- Variety of languages available for diverse populations – no need to hire multiple employees for different languages.
This flexibility means that you can schedule interpreting services for new languages as needs arise. With interpreters on staff, you are limited to the languages the interpreters speak, as well as their time constraints.
Student information must be kept confidential to comply with federal requirements. Reputable agencies have their interpreters sign a non-disclosure agreement, to keep proprietary information of the agency and their customers, or potential customers, confidential.
At Rapport International, we will work with you to manage information about your students in the strictest confidence and in compliance with federal regulations.
8. Industry Resources
Agencies keep current with industry standards and share that information with their interpreters. Ideally, they provide classes and certification opportunities for their interpreters and keep track of other continuing education credits.
For example, in 2020, Rapport International received continuing education modules of COVID-19 training and virtual video training. We shared these resources with our interpreters so they could update their skills to meet the demands of interpreting during a pandemic.
The Agency Solution
Language services agencies supporting the education field provide professional interpreters that specialize in working with students and families. An agency offers oversight of all aspects of the staffing life cycle, relieving the school department of personnel responsibilities and additional expenses. Finding the right partner to provide your language service needs and building a long-term relationship leads to better communication and improved experiences for your institution and the students and families it serves.
Rapport International specializes in multilingual communications, providing language translation and interpretation services that are accurate and culturally appropriate. We use the right voice and the correct terminology to avoid liability, customize services to your needs, and deliver on time and within your budget. With our 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can trust that it’s done right. Contact us today if you would like more information or to get a free quote.