How to Obtain Effective Feedback on Interpretation Assignments

We all agree that feedback from the end users is important in judging the quality of the finished product, but how does a company, an individual obtain effective feedback on the interpretation assignment?

Rarely do interpreters in Kenya go through a feedback session at least for the signed languages and mostly the freelancers. However those who are employed do go through appraisals - which are often general and are conducted annually. 

Recently, I stumbled upon a review on one of my numerous assignments and I was pleasantly surprised or was I? The criticism was about the person not the work. The criticizers tore on to my persona, even to the extent of sharing the feedback with a potential client....not that I had a problem with the sharing or the criticism - I was perturbed by the process...it was never inclusive or I was never given the feedback directly....It got me thinking about the best way to provide a productive feedback to an interpreter so as to build them and their career.... my reviewers as often in Kenya about job appraisals were out to tear, demolish, uproot and devour the interpreter and not the interpretation - bringing down the worker not criticizing the work (end product/service) 

I have gone through appraisals, job performance evaluations for at least twelve years and received a job improvement plan once....So I know from experience what a good feedback is from a shoddy one....In one of the organization that I worked for the appraisal process was used as a tool to fire employees or settle personal scores between contractors and their consultants. If used well feedback sessions are a great tool for building employees and a personal growth tool.

How do you give good feedback on interpreter performance? work or assignments?

Here are some questions to ask about interpretations

  • Did the interpreter keep up with the speaker?
  • Did the interpreter speak whenever the speaker spoke?
  • Did the interpreter pause whenever the speaker paused or shortly after?
  • Did you hear any hesitation in the interpreter's voice?
  • Did the interpreter use any words or phrases that sounded strange to you?
  • During slide presentations, were the interpreter's words well-timed?
  • Did the interpreter miscue (mispronounce) any words/signs?
  • Did the interpreter have a pleasant, well-modulated voice?
  • Did the interpreter have a cultured voice and accent?
Remember that your end user is not a qualified interpreter and is not judging the interpretation, but only the finished product.  The fact is that the average end user of a interpreted work has no idea how to go about judging it, and usually gives an opinion based on politeness, orneriness, desire to please, or any number of other factors.

If you prefer a more systematic approach, the following questions will help you to obtain effective feedback from your end users:
Questions to ask about a interpretation:
1. Can you tell it is a interpretation?
This is the most important question to ask, as a competent interpretation never reveals that it is a interpretation.
2. Does it read like an original?
This question reinforces the previous one, as a competent interpretation reads like an original.
3. Are there any words or phrases that sound out of place?
Proper usage is the mark of a good interpretation.  An incompetent interpreter will  look words up in a dictionary; a competent interpreter will know which is the right word to use.
4. Is there anything that does not make sense?
Incompetent interpreter who do not know proper usage will often interpret a phrase word for word, which will make no sense.
5. Are there sentences that are hard to understand?
Improper usage will make the text hard to understand.
6. Are there phrases that you understand but that you would never say that way?
Again, this evaluates proper usage.
7. Are there sentences with words that seem out of order?
Word order is extremely important, not only in conveying the correct meaning, but also in giving you a text that runs smoothly.
8. Are there any grammatical mistakes?
This question is only significant when the answer is yes.  Acceptable grammar is much easier to produce than acceptable usage.
9. Are there any misspelled words? 
Again, a question that is only significant when the answer is yes.

Remember that all these will be of no use if the interpreter is not involved in this process. It is a 360 degrees - Contractor - Interpreter - Native Users form the three pronged members of the review panel with the aim of getting a good interpretation, build a better interpreter and provide quality interpretation for the consumers.

Thanks to 
Barinas for the content (edits are mine)
My mentors local and diaspora your criticism builds me
My clients - hearing and Deaf your feedback is valuable and necessary 

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