Tips on How to Assist Your Arabic Interpreter

Working well with an interpreter takes practice and preparation – interpreters are usually heard, but not necessarily seen, and this take time to perfect.

When working with an Arabic interpreter, whether this be at a conference, in an immigration office, in a hospital, or at a private meeting, it is essential that you give your interpreter all the information they need in advance, so they can adequately prepare to give the best interpretation of your message.

Understanding how to help your Arabic interpreter will ensure you are both fully prepared on the day, and will limit misunderstandings, errors, or complications.

Before we look at the specifics required by your Arabic interpreter in order for them to complete their job, let’s consider the role of an interpreter, and how they use their translation knowledge, and linguistic skills, to interpret, then relay your message:


Translation, Interpretation, Language, Culture and Context

Translation and interpretation aren’t just about language. Knowing the word pairs within say English and Arabic translation, isn’t enough to offer a concise, punctual, well-formed interpretation.

This is because language is also dependent upon culture and context.

We derive meaning from our language based upon our unique cultural relevance to specific words. For instance, a joke about an Englishman, a Scotsman, a Welshman, and an Irishman may be understood by an English audience, but for an Arabic one, it would have little relevance, or meaning.

It should be clear from the above statement that translation and interpretation aren’t just about finding the equivalent word. Instead, they are about conveying the meaning, or sentiment, behind the words, so that different audiences can understand the overall message.

In order to do this efficiently, successfully, and accurately an interpreter must have an in-depth knowledge of not only the language, but also both the source and target cultures, people, and national character.

The more information an interpreter has, prior to the actual interpretation, the better they can assimilate this knowledge into their translation work, and ultimately will be able to give a finished interpretation that is informed, appropriate, and fitting.

Preparation is key to a successful interpretation.


Preparing for Arabic Interpretation

If you have used an interpreter in the past, you are likely to be aware of the level of preparation that goes into arranging an effective interpretation. However, if you are new to interpretation, there are a few things that go on before the day that should be noted in order to ensure a smooth process.

Your interpreter is likely to hound you for any, and all documentation, including speeches, background notes, attendance lists, agendas, and so on, so be prepared to fulfil their requirements!

The following list will give you some idea of the type of material that will be required by your interpreter before the event, and also any alterations, or additional materials on the day.

• Agenda – this should be provided as soon as possible, as it allows your interpreter to schedule their day appropriately. List breaks, speakers, times, organisations, and so on where possible – the more information you can give, the better.

• List of participants – this should include resumes, links to organisations or companies, and background information relevant to the interpretation task.

• Minutes, notes, agendas from previous conferences – these can be used to gain insight into cohorts, audience participation, and procedures for the forthcoming event.

• Background materials – such as, information on conference objectives, language requirements, company links, any information that is generally available to participants in the day is also beneficial.

• Websites/Links to Speakers & Partner Groups – these are used to create an overall picture of the conference or meeting, and can be valuable to interpreters as lots of information can be found in one centralised place, especially without the need for paper!

• Contact – direct contact is often desirable between interpreters, and the organisations they are enlisted to help. Where possible, list contact information for one or two relevant people who hold the majority of information, or know where to find it.

• Q&A – a session or two of questions and answers are useful for both the interpreters, and the organisation hosting the event. You can cover any highly specialised areas, any foreseeable issues, or specific timescales and requirements well in advance of the day.

• Speeches/Presentations – ideally these should be made available to the interpreters at least a few weeks before the actual day. The more time they have to study the information, the better their interpretation will be. Any changes should be notified as soon as possible. Of course, interpretation is an impromptu activity, but context can help your interpreter deal with anything unexpected, or audience Q&A.

• Confidentiality – professional interpreters are used to dealing with sensitive information, or confidential matters. They should be happy to sign any confidentiality agreements in advance, and discretion before, during and after the event is assured.


Interpreters are professional communicators who enjoy using their linguistic skills, cultural knowledge, and research talents to ensure a smooth, concise interpretation for their clients.

Advance preparation is vital in ensuring a successful interpretation of your event, so plan ahead, organise relevant materials well in advance of the day where possible.

If you require any further assistance, or information regarding how to enlist the services of an Arabic translation team, how much this costs, or how we can help at your multi-lingual event, please contact Creative Word.

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