Information and Resources for Parents and Educators

Tips for Working with Interpreters

Classroom interpreting is more than just knowing how to sign competently. Interpreters must process language quickly and accurately, and they must think about spoken English and sign language simultaneously. Interpreting is also about being able to support the educational goals and outcomes as defined by the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Interpreting for children and youth is different than interpreting for adults. Childhood and adolescence involves development in many important domains – cognitive, social, and linguistic. Schools foster many forms of development, not just learning classroom content. By working with a student, all adults automatically become role models, language models, and disciplinarians as well as many other roles.

Educational interpreters have a big job, and there are few road maps. The interpreter is an important member of the educational team, with a responsibility to help implement the student’s IEP and maximize learning. The word “educational” in the title “educational interpreter” is an important distinction. It means working with a developing child, and this is reflected in your everyday practice.

This site and related sections describes issues related to interpreting for children, with a focus on social interaction and learning. It describes the role of the classroom interpreter, the skills needed to be an effective interpreter, resources helpful to interpreters, learning issues of students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and training opportunities.