Why Community Interpreting Matters

By Ania Pither


It is obvious for everybody that a community interpreter is a person who needs to possess a fluent command of a foreign language and excellent knowledge of their mother tongue. These skills allow them to accurately and confidently convert one language into another while assuring a smooth and quick process. In today’s multilingual society, an interpreter helps to overcome a language barrier.

Delivering interpreting courses, I can observe my students. I can see how quickly they realise that being allowed into other people’s lives while interpreting for them is a great privilege, but it is also a great responsibility. Being at least bilingual, they have a wide international experience which builds comprehension and deep respect for culture differences.

Picking new skills boosts students’ confidence. New terminology is introduced, new terms are used, regulations have been updated. Students realise that the world is changing and developing and so does the language. I can see how eager they become to study further and widen their professional knowledge. They become interested in international affairs as well as changes introduced into domestic matters because they understand it will help them to bridge the gap between cultures and create mutual understanding between the parties with empathy and respect. They understand that by developing and using such skills and work ethic, they will be able to break the wall of misunderstanding and fear of the unknown and allow people with different backgrounds and perceptions, who do not speak the same language, to understand one another.

Interpreters are able to take down the wall of misunderstanding and take away the fear of the unknown. They allow people with different backgrounds and perceptions to understand one another.”

Students get the opportunity to learn how to deverbalize the meaning of a source language and acquire the ability to anticipate, read cues and forestall the context.

A Level 3 Community Interpreting course becomes the first step into their professional career. They are determined to study further, they think about bilingual advocacy courses, they don’t question their abilities anymore. They are determined to develop, to make a better future for themselves and their families while having a positive impact within their communities and contributing to their progress. They are so willing to allow people from minority groups who cannot speak fluent English to access services they are entitled to. They are well aware of problems which are experienced in dealing with public sectors by people from their communities who are unfamiliar with the English system and specialist terminology used. They understand that, consequently, those people become shy, embarrassed and lack confidence to speak or express themselves. That’s why students often decide to contribute to their communities through volunteering.

So, are such courses needed. I am positive, they are. They transform people. They boost their self-esteem and employability. These courses also enable students to meet others from various cultural backgrounds who are equally eager to help and support their communities. Such courses can help migrants  and minority ethnic people to build a better life in the UK, to feel they belong here, to contribute and achieve and to create a better version of themselves.

Ania Pither is a tutor for the Level 3 Community Interpreting course offered by DRI.

She is also a certified interpreter and translator registered with the Polish Ministry of Justice for over 25 years, and has a Master’s Degree in teaching.