What Does a Volunteer Interpreter Do?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 February 2020
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Interpreters are people who help translate spoken words into another language. A volunteer interpreter works pro bono, or for no pay. Some volunteer as an interpreter to gain valuable work experience, while others provide their free services just for the sake of volunteering. Volunteer interpreters usually work as consecutive interpreters, but they may work as simultaneous interpreters, especially if they are looking to gain experience. Government agencies and private organizations may use volunteer interpreters.

A foreign language interpreter translates the spoken words of other people into another language. Interpreters must fluently speak and understand at least two languages, and they must also be able to properly express the emotion and tone conveyed by the speakers. While this can be a very lucrative career, some interpreters may also volunteer their services free of charge.

To become a professional interpreter, a person may need to gain work experience before he completes school or looks for an interpreter job. Unpaid internships will enable a volunteer interpreter to gain this experience. On the other hand, some choose to volunteer simply because it makes them feel good to help others.

Most of the time, a volunteer interpreter will work as a consecutive interpreter. This type of interpreter waits for a person to speak a few sentences before translating it for the other party. Consecutive interpreters are usually needed in face-to-face meetings between people who speak different languages.


A simultaneous interpreter, on the other hand, typically translates a person's words as he is speaking. This type of interpreter usually uses headphones to listen to one person's words and a microphone to translate these words to another person or group of people. These interpreters are usually necessary during large meetings or conventions in which several people speak different languages.

Finding volunteer opportunities that involve language interpretation can be a bit difficult for some people. A person who has the necessary skills and is interested in becoming a volunteer interpreter may want to check online first. Private and non-profit organizations are often looking for volunteers. Some government agencies may also offer paid and unpaid interpreter internships.

Local battered women's shelters and homeless shelters may be in need of a volunteer interpreter, for example. Hospitals may also get patients who speak a foreign language, and doctors and nurses will often need interpreters to translate the words of the patients and families. Police departments and courthouses also usually use interpreters.



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Post 2

Nicely written language. An interpreter's job is a tough one. If you can understand or speak more than five languages, it means that you can be in five different worlds. I will be taking some language classes for now. I am a natural skincare doctor and I need to converse with many different patients.

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