Suggestions for Interpreting at Parent/Teacher Conferences


    • Be sure you know what you are expected to do. If it is not clear, ask.
    • Learn possible vocabulary and expressions.
    • Decide how you will interpret certain common phrases that might not have exact translations so they will always be the same.
    • Greet the teacher or teachers you will work with. Tell the teacher your name and the language that you will interpret.
    • Explain to the teacher that you will translate what the speaker says. If the teacher wants an explanation or opinion, the teacher should ask for it.
    • Ask the teacher to speak with short sentences and to pause after every two or three sentences so you can interpret.


    • Be sure that your role as an interpreter is explained by the teacher to the parents.
    • They should understand that you are not involving your own opinions or thoughts. You are only repeating what the teacher says.
    • Be sure you are seated so that the parents and teachers can see each other and talk to each other.
    • Use the same pronouns that the speakers use. (For example, if the teacher says. "I am happy to meet you." do NOT say, "She is happy to meet you." You should say in the other language, "I am happy to meet you."
    • Do not talk to the teacher in front of the parents without interpreting it for them.
    • Other discussion should be after the parents leave.
    • Do not talk for a long time with the parents without interpreting the conversation for the teacher.
    • Tell the teacher if you are related to or know the parents well. Also tell the teacher if you feel that the interpreting situation is uncomfortable for you.


    • After the parents leave, you can have a discussion with the teacher and give opinions if the teacher asks for them, if necessary.
    • If there’s time, ask the teacher to explain any words or ideas that were not clear so that you will not have problems the next time.
    • If there is any important information that you think the teacher should have, give it to the teacher. It should be clear that this information is your opinion or that it is information that was NOT said.
    • Ask the teacher if you should do anything differently.
    • If necessary, remind the teacher about using short sentences and pausing between every two or three sentences so that you can interpret. It is easy for them to forget to do this and if they don't, it is very hard for you.

    - By Mary Díaz