In the past year, we have seen an increasing demand for interpreting services nationwide. On-site interpreting is still the primary language solution for many people, while telephonic interpreting or video remote interpreting could potentially be more cost-effective and accessible. Following are some advantages and disadvantages of each alternative.
On-site Interpreting: The interpreter would meet you on-site to deliver the interpreting session.
- On-site interpreting is usually scheduled several days ahead of the event, and as the benefit, there would be more time for you to find the most suitable and qualified person to interpret for your event. On the contrary, if you are using the instant telephonic interpreting services, you may not be able to select an interpreter with expertise in the relevant field, which may in turn compromise the quality of interpretation.
- An on-site interpreter has the greatest chance to capture all the context of the conversation, including body language and facial expression of all the participants. These non-verbal cues may provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of the other parties on presence. On the other hand, non-verbal cues are often inaccessible or easily ignored in a telephonic or video remote interpreting.
- On many occasions, documents and pictures are often distributed and people with Limited English Proficiency may need help reading the text on them. If the interpreter is on-site, the interpreter can easily read and explain the text to the person in need. In a telephonic or video remote interpreting session, although the people on presence can take a photo of the documents and send them to the interpreter, it could be quite time-consuming and challenging especially when the photo quality is low and the documents involve in-depth concepts.
- You and your guests would usually feel more reassured when the interpreter is on-site. We all know it would be easier to understand one another when all the parties are present, and you don’t need to worry about the internet connection or phone signal if the interpreter is on-site.
- Not always people would like to have an interpreter on-site. In a medical session, a patient may feel uncomfortable when anyone other than the doctor is in the room. Although non-disclosure agreements prevent the medical conditions from being released, patients may still feel embarrassed if a non-medical person is in the room.
- Most of the time this is also the most expensive option. Besides the cost of the interpreting session, traveling cost would incur and it’s usually passed to the clients. If the session doesn’t last long, telephonic or video remote interpreting may be a more cost-effective option.
- On-site interpreting is not a flexible option compared to the alternatives. People need to book the session several days ahead, and the cancellation policy may be strict. Moreover, if there’s a significant delay, additional costs may incur. Considering the higher pricing of on-site interpreting, any factors that lead to a time or location change would be very costly.
Telephonic Interpreting: You and the interpreter will get connected on phone. There’s instant telephonic interpreting service available, or you may book in advance to enjoy a lower cost and a peaceful mind knowing you would be covered for your event.
- You may speak with an interpreter instantly on phone, and you don’t need to book ahead. This feature makes it the most flexible option. If you don’t know when a client or patient with Limited English Proficiency would walk in, or there’s an emergency and you need to communicate with a person speaking different languages, the instant telephonic service would be the best option for you.
- Despite the instant feature, telephonic interpreting usually has the lowest cost compared to the other options, as the interpreters don’t need to dress up and head to the location. If you have a limited budget for interpretation, an advance telephonic session would be ideal for you.
- The telephonic interpreter won’t have any access to non-verbal clues throughout the session. Misunderstandings may arise under certain circumstances.
- If during a telephonic interpreting session there’s a discussion of documents and pictures, it would be very inconvenient as lots of photos may need to be taken and sent to the interpreter.
- Given the nature of the instant telephonic interpreting, you may not be able to select an interpreter with experience in the field of your project.
Video Remote Interpreting: You will be connected to the interpreter with a webcam online using a computer or tablet.
- Video interpreting is similar to on-site interpreting to some extent, and shares some of the advantages of on-site interpreting: interpreters can read some of the facial expression and body language and can help explain the meaning of the text on documents and pictures.
- You don’t need to pay the interpreter’s traveling cost, while you are still able to see each other on a computer or tablet. In some remote area, traveling cost could be quite high if you want the interpreter to come to your event.
- You need to make sure that you have the device to run the video session. Stable and fast internet connection is also a must for a high-quality video interpreting session.
- Video interpreting is usually more costly than telephonic interpreting, while under certain circumstances when the internet connection is poor as an example, it would be less effective than a telephonic session.