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:

The Translator Journal features linked articles primarily related to translating, though interpreting is also mentioned.  Additionally, it features links to translation tools

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.

The NCIHC Languages of Limited Diffusion (LLD) webpage offers a resource database where you can type in either a language (such as Arabic) or a term (such as kidney); trainer tips; and reviews of many resources. Check it out!

We are often asked about English/Spanish flashcards for medical terminology. Seso Inc, sells a kit for $45.00. The learning tool provides over 300 definitions of medical procedures, medical equipment, common disabilities and chronic conditions in English and Spanish.

 Multilingual Sites

  • 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

Educational glossaries

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

Glossaries of commonly used terms in human and social services put out by the San Francisco Department of Human Services, and available in:
     - Russian
     - Spanish
     - Vietnamese

French 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.

Legal/Court terminology glossaries
     - General District Court
     - Circuit Court - Criminal
Circuit Court - Civil
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court
    - Foreign Language Services Division

Social Security (Spanish only)

For the glossary that was put out by the U.S. Social Security Administration, click here.

Public Health

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:

Glosario de Términos Vulgares e Insultos. Malas Palabras

Green’s Dictionary of Slang is online for free in a searchable digital edition.

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 (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. is more than a Spanish dictionary; it also features online translators, verb conjugations, grammar practice, and flashcards.

Silvia Schrage offers an article for medical translators that will also help interpreters. Her piece goes into detail on how to find equivalents for medical terms in another language.

A promotional video for Netflix as a language-learning tool.

Other Resources for Interpreters

Get free access to the “Decalogue for Requesting a Linguistics Expert Report.”

Here is a set of practice standards developed by Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf for professional sign language interpreting agencies.

A research article: Training Translators and Interpreters for a Digitised and Globalised World: Wikipedia, Lingua Francas and Critical Thinking. Translation and Interpreting: Convergence, Contact and Interaction.

Read about interpreter credentialing on the ATA website.

This report analyzes differences in pay between New York State Court interpreters and other court positions, as well as federal pay scales for comparable work.

Tamara Cabrera is the author of this 2017 paper of almost 60 pages: The Translation and Interpreting Industry of the United States.

For information about court interpreting and interpreter rates in courts across the U.S. see the following:
National Center for State Courts data
Court Interpreting Research data

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.

NAJIT presents this detailed 24 page report titled Advocacy 101 for Interpreters and Translators

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.

The famous Interactive Terminology for Europe (IATE) database has just been revamped. Its new design has updated technology to make it as user-friendly as possible. It offers more than 8 million terms, 1.18 million entries—and 26 languages.

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.

Cooperativeness – A necessary trait for interpreters? A study on temperament and character dimensions of experts in different fields examines whether certain character traits affect interpreters’ expert performance.

NCIHC hosts a webpage with valuable resources on related to the topic of supporting Limited English Proficient patients who are LGBTQIA.

The Immigration Advocates Network offers a valuable range for resources useful to interpreters and translators who work in areas involving refugees, asylum seekers and other immigrants who may have experienced trauma.

Interpreters and translators alike may benefit from this online “master list” of Mexican slang. 

A third online “webshop” module of about 60 minutes for DeafBlind Interpreting is available from the DeafBlind Interpreting National Training & Resource Center. (The earlier two modules are available with CEUs on their website.)

Trex is a bilingual contextual dictionary in five language pairs. In other words: (a) it focuses on the translation of phrases, not words. (b) It provides not only translations but also examples of the usage of those phrases in various sentences.

The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) offers a free toolkit called Improving Well-Being for Refugees in Primary Care: A Toolkit for Providers.

Sign-language interpreters may find Unfolding Scenarios a valuable resource. It offers 12 interpreting scenarios.