+1 (215) 735-1055

Interpreting in a School Setting

Interested in this eLearning Program?

School interpreting is a subset of business interpreting and accounts for a high percentage of non-medical or legal interpreting assignments. It’s a common session type with its own procedures, regulations, and challenges. School assignments are an excellent choice for newer interpreters as the language is typically conversational in tone.

Global Arena’s eLearning Course, Interpreting in a School Setting, builds upon your foundational knowledge to prepare you for specialty assignments. We’ll cover school appointment types, rules and regulations, and best practices as you begin your career and start to specialize.

Common School Assignments

The first module of Interpreting in a School Setting provides an in-depth overview of the different types of school appointments. There are four basic school meetings that you are likely to encounter as an interpreter:

Parent-teacher meetings:

These meetings are designed to involve parents in their child’s education, where they discuss the individual pupil and the needs, challenges and successes he or she has.

These meetings are also an opportunity to discuss the possible need for an IEP or a 504 education plan. They are usually organized initially with a warm welcoming talk, and then move on to more specific details.

IEP meeting:

IEP stands for “Individualized Education Program.” It is the written document required by law that details the specific types of supports a student needs. This program is covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. For a child to be eligible for an IEP, he or she must be diagnosed with one or more of the disabilities recognized by the Act. This program is available to any student in both public and charter schools.

Public schools, on the other hand, do not offer IEPs, but often offer service plans that work along the same lines. Infants and toddlers who have not started school may also receive services through state early intervention programs.

504 plan meeting:

504 plans serve to support and remove barriers for all students who are not eligible for an IEP.

The plan is created by the child’s caregivers. Unlike an IEP, a 504 plan does not have to be legally written. It simply spells out who will be responsible for meeting the child’s needs. This plan is re-evaluated every year or every three years. Either the parents or the teacher can call a reevaluation meeting.

Behavioral meeting:

Schools place importance on understanding behavior and preventing future misbehavior. Before convening a behavior meeting, there are usually phone calls and messages between the parents and the teacher. If the behavior continues, the teacher usually sets up a meeting to discuss consequences with the parents, the student and the administration. In the event that the student has an IEP, the student is entitled to a manifestation determination meeting. 

This meeting determines whether the student’s disability contributes to unacceptable behavior. If the student commits an infraction, the school schedules a disciplinary hearing. This hearing is attended by teachers, administrators, parents and the student involved.

Basic Guidelines for Interpreting in a School Setting

Interpreting in a School Setting also covers basic guidelines for excelling in these assignments. Our goal is to build upon the interpreting experience you’ve acquired and prepare you to start accepting school appointments. As they differ in significant ways from medical and legal sessions, they require different preparation and practices as well.

Interpreting in a school setting differs from interpreting in a medical or legal setting most obviously in tone. School interpreting tends to be much more casual and conversational than medical or legal assignments. Language is simple and any special terms are clarified immediately—usually without the interpreter having to ask. The goal of any school assignment is to reach mutual understanding and the tone reflects this common aim.

School assignments often include multiple people, rather than the one-on-one context of a medical appointment. Teachers, parents, the student in question, guidance counselors, support staff and administrators are all frequent participants. You may have to interject more frequently than usual. Groups of multiple people often need reminders that the interpreter requires that only one person speaks at a time. Once you establish ground rules, the assignment should proceed smoothly.

Business casual or professional dress is most appropriate for school assignments. You should still prepare as you would for a medical or legal assignment. This includes asking your agency for any special details or vocabulary to study, packing your bag, etc. You should also prepare a simpler prep session than the one you typically use: particularly for young children. Include your name, that you’re the interpreter, and that you’ll help their parents understand the teacher. This sets everyone on an equal footing when you arrive: you’ve introduced yourself and set expectations for the meeting.

Course Duration and Format

Interpreting in a School Setting is timed to last for 30-45 minutes. It consists of three modules, each with interactive mini-review activities. The course concludes with a final review, an exam, and a certificate upon completion and a passing exam result. Each module consists of a variety of informational slides, including interactive and lecture formats. This broadly engages participants, ensures information retention, and encourages application. The mix of different slides adds not only visual interest but targets different learning styles to fit all needs.

The course is entirely online and easily accessible from our e-learning platform. It requires no downloads or special permissions. It’s available both for independent interpreters and school district employees who’d like to learn more about interpreting. As an employer, there’s another advantage to using our system: you’re able to track your employees’ progress and completion rates. If you’re working as an independent contractor, you can access your account any time and see your status. You’ll also have full access to our course catalogue and resource.

The information is updated regularly to meet current standards. Courses can be taken within one year of purchase. After one year, if the course has not been completed, the program will be eliminated from the trainee’s dashboard. Certificates are accessible at any time. Our eLearning courses are easily accessible from your mobile device. If you’re working with an organization, Interpreting in a School Setting is further customizable to fit your team’s needs. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or for more information.