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How Does Telephone Interpreting Work?

May 2021

Translation ,

Telephone interpreting can be one of the easiest solutions to a language barrier, whether it’s for business or a personal matter.

If you need an interpreter but financial or geographical circumstances throw a spanner in the works, telephone interpreting provides the ideal solution. It’s convenient and cost effective, and you’ll be able to connect with an interpreter almost instantaneously.

It’s also one of the best options for small and medium businesses going international. If you’re connecting with other companies that speak a variety of languages, it can be time consuming to have interpreters frequently travel back and forth to provide in person services. Luckily, telephone interpreting works almost identically, just without the need to be physically together.

How can I use telephone interpreting?

Telephone interpreting is incredibly easy to operate, and can work in a number of ways.

If you’re physically with the individual you need to interpret for, you can arrange a simple 2 way phone call with yourself and an interpreter. The interpreter will typically speak to each individual (with a speakerphone arrangement for ease), then relay to the other.

When trying to get in touch with individuals that you’re physically unable to meet due to geography or circumstance, a 3+ way phone call can be organised. In these scenarios each participant will dial in from their own phone, with the interpreter acting as the middleman between parties. To avoid conflict or confusion, the interpreter can dictate when each party should speak, or with numerous participants, a buzzer may be used to indicate that a party wishes to speak next.

telephone interpreting

Who is telephone interpreting useful for?

Choosing a telephone interpreter can be useful for a variety of reasons that you may not have previously considered.

Small Businesses

As mentioned at the start of the article, telephone interpreting can be an amazing opportunity for small businesses to take their operations global. If you hadn’t considered it as a feasible option due to language barriers, or lacking a translation budget, telephone interpreting can help cut down on costs.

If there’s a time difference, you won’t have to worry about getting an interpreter up in the middle of the night, as you can get in touch with a translator anywhere. You can connect quickly with any overseas clients, and neither end has to fret over finding an in person translator.

Rare languages and dialects

When working with clients and individuals that speak a rare language or dialect, it’s not always easy to find a local interpreter that can understand and translate effectively. Telephone interpreting means you can use an interpreter located anywhere in the world and easily find the services to suit you.


It’s never ideal, but from time to time, things will come up and you may suddenly be left without an interpreter for an important meeting or event. With telephone interpreting, there’s no stress over your interpreter being stuck in traffic or running late, as you’ll connect with them instantly over the phone.

If you need an interpreter at the last minute, Global Language Services offers services that can be accessed 24/7 using a local number. Our staff will be able to assist with medical appointments to business meetings.

telephone interpreting

Why use a telephone interpreter?

If you’re considering whether to use telephone interpreting services, there’s little question that it is the most simple, cost efficient choice. Machine translation may seem a reasonable alternative, but when it comes to machine translation vs human translation, there’s really no competition.

Struggling for a last minute interpreter doesn’t mean you should resort to struggling away on your mobile translation app. It could miss out on important nuances, cultural meanings and minor details that could make all the difference to your relationship with your client.


At Global Language Services, our interpreters have gone through significant training in order to become a professional translator. They hold years of experience and provide the highest quality telephone interpreting services.

The telephone interpreters we employ are all fully qualified linguists with specific industry expertise, and our calls are even selectively monitored in order to evaluate interpreters’ performance, ensuring that our quality of service is always the best.

If you’d like more information on our flexible telephone interpreting services, please get in touch with us at 0141 429 3429 or send an email to

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