Language Tools and Resources
The Migration Policy Institute's (MPI) Language Portal is a Translation and Interpretation Digital Library where anyone can search the database to find resources used to provide services to LEP individuals, including:
- Language access plans
- Translated documents
- Interpreter/Translator contracts
- Court interpreters (searchable Spanish-English Glossary)
- Criminal & juvenile justice terms
- Human services
The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait is a 23-page report published by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The report explores the language skills of Americans and how they acquired or learned those languages, the state of bilingualism in the U.S., language education in this country and more.
- WordReference - a valuable, user-friendly online dictionary. Select the two languages, type in the word for which a translation is desired in one language, and the translation of that word (and other information) appears instantly.
- Terminology, by Agile Tortoise, includes a dictionary, thesaurus and word research tool in an integrated package.
- Freedict offers links to bidirectional dictionaries in 16 languages.
- Your Dictionary - Features a range of online dictionaries, thesauruses, word games, and other references.
- Dictionarist - Multilanguage dictionary helpfully provides many example sentences; a bit of experimenting suggests usability may be lower outside of European-based languages.
- Lexicool - online dictionary search engine currently has links to over 3500 bilingual and multilingual dictionaries and glossaries.
- Logos: 1,275 glossaries in over 60 languages
For bilingual glossaries of Department of Education Terminology in several languages (Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu, click here to go to the website of New York City Schools.
Social and human services glossaries
- For Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program informational materials in French, Spanish, and other languages, click here.
- For The SIL French/English Glossary of Linguistic Terms, click here.
Social Security (Spanish only)
For the glossary that was put out by the U.S. Social Security Administration, click here.
This glossary, available in Spanish, French and Portuguese, is on a website with many tools for translation. It was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services. Click here.
Colloquial and vulgar language
Interpreters often say they cannot interpret the "bad words" because they don't know them. For Spanish interpreters, the following may be a helpful resource:
Hand-held Bilingual or Graphic Aids
Polyglot Systems "ProLingua MP" is a hand-held device (not free of charge: see the website for details) that permits hospital staff to speak directly with LEP patients.
It does not claim to be a substitute for interpreters. However, by using the ProLingua device, hospital staff can initiate conversation with patients while waiting for an interpreter to arrive. It can also be used for simple, common questions and directives. Click here for details.
An analogous device for Spanish and English called the Converser, also not free of charge, has been produced. Details are available at www.spokentranslation.com. (The authors have no familiarity with these devices and cannot attest to their accuracy or value.)
For a report on symbol usage in health care settings for LEP patients published by the Hablamos Juntos program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, click here.
Polyglot Systems has produced, for a fee, a set of laminated "Patient Initiator Cards" with universal symbols for LEP patients to point to indicate that they want to have an interpreter, find a nurse, get something to eat, make a telephone call or learn where the bathroom is.
Language Specific Resources
The Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), a government-funded organization, offers the first published ISL dictionary.
In 2015, the Washington State Coalition for Language Access (WASCLA) created The Tools for Health project. It offers a collection of materials about consumer rights and how to obtain language services in the 31 most-commonly spoken languages in that state.
Health Information Translations offers a wealth of health information translated into more than a dozen languages; for example, what a 'bone marrow biopsy' is -- in Korean -- and what would be involved in preparing for this test. Search by language, topic, or keyword.
The National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland has launched an e-learning portal featuring thousands of articles in a wide variety of languages with the idea of offering students of language an almost bottomless resource for study and self-improvement. The topics may be browsed for free, though a subscription is needed to view the content (currently $5 a month for individuals).
The Polish Language Website created by Oscar Swan, Director of Slavic Language Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, is devoted to the teaching of the Polish language worldwide. It is free and contains an on-line Polish dictionary, a reference grammar, a first-year Polish course, computer-graded language quizzes, a collection of Polish short stories, a Polish songbook and more.
First published in 1997, the magazine Materiales para la enseñanza multicultural is issued by the Spanish Education Office in Washington DC, USA. It includes articles about teaching and learning and practical ideas that are ready to use in class at all levels.
Spanishdict.com is more than a Spanish dictionary; it also features online translators, verb conjugations, grammar practice, and flashcards.
Other Resources for Interpreters
The St. Catherine University CATIE Center has released a new publication titled Experiential Learning in Interpreter Education. Those interested in experiential learning and/or interpreter education take note: it is available free to download.
Here is an amazing resource for interpreters, especially those who perform conference and community (including medical) interpreting. InterpretimeBank is an online community of interpreters who help each other out, not only by sharing resources and knowledge--but also practice time. You simply donate time to help other interpreters around the world practice, and you get the same hours in return.
The Deaf Interpreter Institute site serves as a "learning, sharing, and networking site for deaf interpreters", in addition to those faculty, staff, and other interpreters who work with them.
Therapists today often need interpreters. Yet their experiences are not always positive. Enter Mothertongue, a UK nonprofit that runs a mental health interpreting service and has extensive experiences with refugees. They offer a free training video to show how mental health professionals can work effectively with interpreters.
The University of Arizona provides some great links for resources to practice your simultaneous interpreting skills.
The Southeastern Health Equity Council (SHEC) released its Cultural Competency Resource Guide and a White Paper in fall 2015. The white paper defines the field and addresses key terms and concepts.
Interpreters residing in or around the state of Washington interested in court certification may find a full overview of the process here.
The Life Course Toolbox includes a board game on community health that plunges players into a storyline, from birth to death, that walks anyone through what it means to have—or not to have—health insurance, privilege and protective factors, among other social factors, and the long-term consequences of the cards we are dealt in life.
The “first-ever” comprehensive study on pay for U.S. court interpreters was published in 2016.
In anticipation of a report on remote interpreting that InterpretAmerica is preparing, you watch the opening and closing plenary sessions and read a teaser of three key IA 6 findings taken from the upcoming white paper.
Given that all interpreters need strong short-term memory skills, this resource offers 9 exercises to improve short-term memory while interpreting. They range from “shadowing with a twist” to attentive listening—and remembering messages that you disagree with or find offensive.
Are you confused about language proficiency levels? This colorful poster makes everything easy to see at a glance.