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Things to Consider When Hiring an International Interpreter

Traveling abroad with an international interpreter alleviates language barriers and prevents social and cultural misapprehensions. Whereas translator services are exclusively written, an interpreter provides instantaneous verbal explanations.

Unlike mobile apps that offer tenuous translations of foreign languages, interpreters promise accuracy and a valuable understanding of important verbal nuances, such as sarcasm. Whether looking to hire an interpreter for a single afternoon or an entire vacation, the following considerations can help an individual pinpoint a knowledgeable, available and affordable professional for upcoming international travel.

Where to Look

International interpreters can easily be located through organizations such as the Federation of Translators, American Translators Association, the Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council, or the U.K.'s Institute of Translation and Interpreting. Professional organizations provide the individual with a greater selection of freelance interpreters than most agencies offer, says Ben Jones, managing director of BJ Translations in Thanet, U.K.

Interpreters promise accuracy and a valuable understanding of important verbal nuances.

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Through local translation and interpreting organizations, an individual can handpick an international interpreter based on references, experience and skills.  

The Importance of Familiarity with Context and Content

A great interpreter is not only fluent in more than one foreign language; he or she must have a strong understanding of both cultural context and the content matter at hand, says Sean Hopwood, manager of Day Translations, an interpretation and translation services company based in New York City.

To make sure an interpreter can understand both cultural differences and a variety of content matter, individuals can create a test for the interpreter by asking him or her to participate in a three-way conversation with two parties who speak different foreign languages. One at a time, each can ask the interpreter to decipher a message to the other party. This method provides immediate insight to the interpreter's level of competency, as well as his or her ability to gauge a variety of contexts. Hopwood also recommends administering a written test to the interpreter to ensure the strength of their vocabulary.

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Asking About Going Rates

Depending on the length of the trip and the nature of their assignment, interpreters generally charge a daily rate. "Rates could be based on day, half day and occasionally by the hour," Jones says. The rates themselves generally depend on the interpreter's skill level and demand. "The average daily rate varies greatly depending on area and details of the assignment, but experienced interpreters in the USA and Europe might typically charge $800 U.S. per day, with less experienced individuals charging proportionately lower fees," he says.

Planning ahead can help individuals save on travel costs, but also prepare for the logistics of a trip with an interpreter. "If an interpreter is working more than eight hours per day, he or she might demand overtime pay," he says. "Interpreters also need breaks for meals, as they can't easily do their job if they themselves are trying to eat."

While interpreters may charge new customers upfront, Jones says it is more common for the invoice to be emailed with a request for payment within 30 days. When paying the invoice, individuals can use a trusted online foreign exchange provider to send convenient bank-to-bank international payments via laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Live Cross Rates

USD 69.1780 1.3128 0.7872 53.3650 1.0000 0.8808
CAD 52.6620 1.0000 0.5993 40.6280 0.7609 0.6706
AUD 50.0830 0.9505 0.5700 38.6390 0.7236 0.6378
EUR 78.4920 1.4897 0.8933 60.5560 1.1342 1.0000
GBP 87.8300 1.6669 1.0000 67.7600 1.2692 1.1185

Example: 1USD = xx INR

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