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How To Tell If You Need In-Person, Video, or Telephone Interpreting

For countless industries across the globe, language translation and interpretation services are a vital component to doing business. We expect instant global communication, and now more than ever before, interpretation is a necessary part of that.

Fortunately for us in this increasingly global community, there are a number of options that will ensure crystal clarity between business associates or clients across cultures and languages, making it so that language is no longer a barrier. You can have an in-person interpreter, or an interpreter who works for you over the phone, or via a live video feed.

But which one is the right choice for you? The fact of the matter is that each type of service has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. So here is the difference between face-to-face interpretation, over the phone interpretation, and video interpretation.

In-Person Interpretation
You can always expect the most nuanced interpretation to come from an in-person interpreter. This is because it is easier for the interpreter to pick up on body language and facial expressions if they are working with you face to face. They will be able to tell if a speaker is confused and better interpret their questions if they are there in person. But this is not always the most cost-effective solution, as an in-person interpreter is always more expensive than a remote one.

Video Interpretation
What you might lose in the ability to translate body language, you gain in convenience and cost-effectiveness when it comes to video interpretation. Technology today isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good where video conferencing is concerned, and interpreters are able to do most of the work that an in-person interpreter can do over video chat. If you are already set up for high-tech video conferencing, then this will be the way to go. But if you’re not, you might not want to rely on programs like Skype or Google Hangouts to do something as important as run video interpretation for your business.

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Telephone Interpretation
Everyone has a phone on them these days, so the big advantage of telephone interpretation is speed. However, you will lose the interpreter’s ability to take body language and facial expression into consideration. Fortunately, it doesn’t require the same type of equipment that video interpretation requires, and it is much less expensive than an in-person interpreter.

So when you are deciding what type of service to use, consider cost, equipment, and speed. These factors will allow you to determine which type of interpretation is best for you and your business.

Photo credit: Matthew Kane

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About Jennifer Bustance

Jennifer Bustance is a California-based freelance writer, playwright, and novelist. Her plays have been performed all over the country, and her prose has appeared in various online and print publications. Jennifer is a teaching artist with the Playwrights Project, San Diego Writers, Ink, and UCSD Extension. She is the Playwright in Residence at the Scripps Ranch Theatre and a founding member of their New Works Studio. She has an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.

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Meet the Authors

Brian Gruters

In addition to writing blogs for us, Brian Gruters manages translation projects for corporate clients. He started with Language Translation in 2015.

Brian brings several years of experience as a Spanish to English translator to his work. He has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Arizona and a master’s in Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

As a writer, Brian is mostly interested in language, science, and environmental conservation issues. He writes for various publications, as well as his blog, briangruters.com.

Jennifer Bustance

Jennifer Bustance is a California-based freelance writer, playwright, and novelist originally from Troy, Michigan. Her plays have been performed all over the country, and her prose has appeared in various online and print publications.

Jennifer is a teaching artist with the Playwrights Project, San Diego Writers, Ink, and UCSD Extension. She is the Playwright in Residence at the Scripps Ranch Theatre and a founding member of their New Works Studio. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Chris Maroulakos

Chris Maroulakos has worked at Language Translation since 2007, and he is currently the director of operations. He has been a blogger and managing editor for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear since 2008, and he also worked as a blogger and associate editor for NBC San Diego's SoundDiego music blog.

Chris holds certifications in SDL Trados Studio for Translators (Advanced Level), SDL Trados Studio for Project Managers, and SDL MultiTerm for Translators and Project Managers. He is Inbound Certified by HubSpot and also has certifications in Localization and Localization Project Management from California State University Chico, the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), and the Localization Institute.

He graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a BA in Communications and with minors in Italian and International Studies.