Interpreters are needed for many different reasons. Sometimes, remote or telephone interpreters are the best choice and sometimes local interpreters are better. It all depends entirely on the reason you need an interpreter, as well as other factors, such as budget constraints. Some of these reasons for choosing one or the other are discussed below.
When Local Interpreters are Ideal
By the term, ‘local interpreters’ is meant those professional interpreters who live close by or work close by and can be called upon for their services easily and quickly. In some large institutions, where there may be a need for on the spot interpreting, such as a large hospital, social security or immigration department, interpreters may be employed to help out whenever there is a requirement for their services.
The interpreters who are most likely to be employed are those who can interpret a major second language. For example, in the U.S., where Spanish is spoken by millions of migrants and resident Americans, it is common for interpreters who can speak Spanish as well as English to be employed in major urban institutions. This is less likely where there are several possible languages that might be spoken. For example, in a country where refugees have been welcomed or admitted under a progressive refugee policy, the number of possible languages that may need an interpreter would be too many for a single interpreter as is the case in the U.S. This is when a telephone interpreting service may be a better choice rather than employing a local interpreter.
Local Interpreters are a Better Choice in the Following Circumstances:
● When there is basically only a single language that needs interpreting services
● When budget constraints are tighter, e.g. if an interpreter is needed for community or volunteer work
● If the interpreting services are required over a longer time period
Local Interpreting doesn’t just mean using an Interpreter at home
There are many situations in which an individual, a business or organization may employ an interpreter when they travel away from their own country. For example, many tour guides in places of tourist interest are trained as ‘local interpreters.’ They may double up as tour guides and interpreters to allow the tourists and visitors they guide around to ask questions and receive answers about anything they are curious about.
In the same vein, travel agencies and tourism information points in many countries employ local interpreters who work in the places where tourists go to find information.
Volunteer agencies and organizations and agencies of such organizations as the U.N. also employ local interpreters on a full-time basis so they can liaise with local employees, government officials and whoever they need to communicate within the countries they are active in.
Remote Interpreting has a Role to Play Too
By the term ‘remote interpreting’ it means that you are choosing to use an interpreting service that is not present in physical form. It may take the form of a telephone interpreter, internet service or a video conference interpreting facility, to name a few examples. The internet and the availability of modern communication, including the expansion of mobile cell phone coverage, makes remote interpreting services available whenever a local interpreter is unavailable or when there is a need for a particular language that is not covered by local interpreters.
If your need is for an extremely accurate interpreter for a sensitive or high-value project, then a local interpreter, even if there is one available, may not be the best choice. You may need to employ an interpreter who is experienced and who specialises in the subject you need to communicate about. This could involve paying for an interpreter from somewhere else to travel to the point where the interpreting service is needed.
A remote interpreting service, whether it is a human interpreter brought in for a specific period, or a telephone or internet-based interpreter, may also be the better choice if you only have a limited but intense need for an interpreter for a short time only. For example, if you are organising a scientific or technical conference and someone important is attending from another country whose familiarity with your language is not too good, then using a remote interpreter for the period of the conference would be a wise choice.
In the hospital example given above, where there is a need for interpreting services in more than one or two other languages, telephone interpreting services provided by a professional telephone interpreting service is probably the best option. A telephone interpreting service in the language required can be booked in advance, for example, to allow a specialist to communicate with a patient who cannot speak the specialist’s language.
In conclusion, there are specific needs for both local and remote interpreting services. It all depends on what you want. If unsure, contact a well known professional interpreting service for advice.