Trainers Network Mtg, 6.5.2020

Facilitated by: Anna Duncan and Sapna Panya

All participants are equipped with Introduction to the training happens in Spanish. Folks go around and list the languages they speak. This is the full list:

    • English
    • Spanish
    • German
    • ASL
    • French
    • Sinhalese
    • Arabic
    • Cantonese
    • Hindi/Urdu
    • Gujarati

Participant responses:

    • Anxiety
    • Difficult to speak up
    • good to learning, simultaneous is awesome
    • feels slower and lagging on
    • weird hearing the same voice representing many many people

Language access is multi-issue/intersectional

Definitions (for better definitions, see included handouts) 

    • Multi-lingual space– all languages hold the same amount of power—interpretation can either make non-dominant language speakers able to “understand” or able to actively participate. *Don’t assume that just because someone speaks (some) of a language they’re prepared to interpret.*
    • Simultaneous interpretation – smoother… requires higher skills. A bad interpreter can be bad as well.
    • Interpreter advocacy– solves an urgent needs, gets a thing done quickly and “easily”. Largely disempowers non dominant-language speakers
    • Translation – written-  precise (can or cannot be true).

Break out groups to discuss the pros and cons of different interpretation styles: 

Consecutive Interpretation


        • No equipment
        • on the fly
        • Whoever is speaking can be physically heard
        • Equal opportunity to speak
        • El hablante organiza sus pensamientos mejor


        • Limited to two at most
        • Takes time  
        • Choppy (can’t cheer together) 
        • Speakers need training  
        • Speaker can’t gain momentum/speech is choppy
        • Takes longer
        • Summarizing/tendency to summarize
        • Speaking directly to interpreter 

Multi-Lingual Spaces


        • Shared Power
        • Most inclusive
        • Not everyone speaks the language being interpreted
        • Cada idioma tiene el mismo poder


        • More people needed
        • More time for prep/lots of planning
        • Exclusive planning + resources
        • Can take forever
        • Accentuate differences that are already there when there are multiple simultaneous groups

Written Translation:


        • More time to work out cultural differences between languages
        • Good for visual learners and hard of hearing
        • Precise
        • People have time to analyze and contemplate information
        • More accuracy
        • Accessibility
        • Documentation
        • Better for people with different learning styles


        • Bit real time
        • Assumes literacy
        • Time
        • Prep work
        • Not as useful for folks not literate in that language
        • When nonnative speakers translate potentially more mistakes
        • Reading/literacy 

Interpreter Advocacy:


        • Get things done
        • Achieve a short-term goal
        • Solves urgent need
        • Easy
        • Es una necesidad debe ser un derecho en caso de emergencia
        • Mas rápido


        • La persona no decide lo que dice
        • Doesn’t create power 
        • Message may get lost 
        • Dependency 
        • Potiential loss of learning if individual does not make thorough process
        • Misrepresentation/not hearing own voice
        • Disempowering
        • Not long term/systematic fix 

Simultaneous Interpretation


        • Efficiency
        • Info arrives at the same time
        • Many languages
        • Smooth experience
        • No dira tanta tiempo


        • No hay la oportunidad practicar el idioma que no se sabe
        • Each small group needs interperator
        • Don’t like headphones  
        • Bad interpreter can be a barrier
        • Exhausting
        • Requires high skill
        • Equipment
        • Whispering may distract speaker/may be distracting
        • Might be hard for folks to participate 

Why Important?

        • Be sensitive to people speaking other languages
        • Interested in language justice
        • Take info and share with co-workers/people I work with
        • Bring together people who organize together
        • Work with people who speak a lot of different languages
        • Learn about it
        • Part of empowering people- speakers of non-dominant languages
        • Need to work in many languages
        • Connect different communities/movements


        • Working with government institutions
        • Communicating with folks at work who don’t speak multiple languages
        • people who don’t speak English can’t access services
        • Even in spaces that provide access in Spanish, often folks are excluded (speak other languages, indigenous languages)
        • Hard to build relationships across language barriers
        • cultural differences as well as language
        • Hard for volunteer organizations to get language services
        • Logistics
        • Not a priority—second thought
        • Sharing on challenging topics
        • Ensuring equal access in decision-making

Group #1- Union Mtg, members speak English & Spanish


    1. Depends on how many people are at the meting and what the access to equip is. Larger informational meeting, simultaneous for everyone. If it’s a smaller conversation, consecutive if w/out access to equipment. Intentionally multilingual, both Spanish & English have equal power. l
    2. PTA mtg, reps from PTA trying to make sure it’s accessible for all; English, Spanish, & Amharic. Outreach in different languages, and make the fact that there’s interpretations clear. Translations & in-person outreach in various languages. Large mtg: simultaneous, but consecutive or simultaneous would be great- either would be better than what usually happened. Not start in dominant language. All of the resources would be available in all of the languages. Training interested youth & children in interpretation. (In their experience, in a small group w/ multiple monolanguage people, it stuck them that a super small group didn’t make sense, it was distracting, etc)
    3. Health clinic serving multiple language people. Assumed they’d find out what those languages are. Outreach/communications in multiple languages. We’d hire staff at all levels who spoke as many of the languages as possible. Contract with a service that had multiple languages. Inside the clinic, multilingual posters in languages & cultures. Hire interpreters if necessary. Evaluate, check in regularly. Language access one of the things we’re evaluating. Advisory Council? People from the community on the board as well. Security guards are often the first group that a person sees entering an insuttituion.
    4. City Council Hearing- Consecutive interpretation… Others felt like it was the responsibility of the city to provide the resources. Simultaneous English/Cantonese interpretation, and then also probably having to use consecutive to translate Cantoneseà enligsh.
    5. Immigration Rally at the Capitol- Make sure it’s not just English & Spanish- include other languages. The planners and planning mtgs should have interpreters there, too. Also, making sure there are pamphlets in different languages. Lead up in different languagae radio stations. Do outreach to these places before the rally.  Know the neighborhoods where outreach is happening. For the actual messaging- for the programming to be able to respect. Also, to tell their stories. Interpretation should be consecutive. Lots of consecutive languages? Shorter program.
    6. Nonprofit- language issue front and center. What would the benefit be? How much wider could our impact be? Added benefit is one of the key pieces… How has this mattered, how could this help them…. applying different lessons… hiring staff, multilingual outreach. Text.

More resources:

  • DC Interpreter Collective
  • Many Languages One Voice and DC Language Access Coalition
  • Language Access Act of 2004
  • Civil Rights Act Title VI of 1964
  • DC Office of Human Rights
  • Language Line