Certified Spanish Translator and Interpreter  

The Interpretator

The Global Translation Institute certification program

Posted by rpospina on June 12, 2015 at 9:00 PM

One of the most popular questions from clients requesting the services of a translator is: are you certified? Also, many candidates interested in becoming one ask: how do I become a certified translator?


I've posted a video that covers these specific topics on my YouTube channel therefore on this entry I'll just share my experiences about this specific program:


The Global Translation Institute (GTI)

The GTI is a United States-based company owned by Adriana Tassini; It's also the company that sponsors the Certified Translation Professional (CTP) program. It seems as though the GTI's main purpose is to serve as a gateway to recruit potential candidates for the CTP and to serve as a platform for networking and resources for the CTP alumni.



The CTP program is limited to 200 candidates per year, offering 4 specific examination dates in the months of February, May, August and November each year; there is a 2 weeks deadline (approx.) prior to each examination date to schedule your examination.


In order to schedule your test you must first register for the program by filling out an online form; a GTI representative will contact you shortly afterward to confirm your enrollment and confirm payment. They offer a convenient payment plan for PayPal account users.


Once you are registered, you will have access to the resources offered for candidates which are mostly training modules and videos of interviews with translation professionals, an employer's directory and a study guide.



It is mandatory to make an additional investment to purchase a text book which was also written by Adriana Tassini; the textbook is almost 300 pages long and in 12 chapters it covers basic concepts from what is translation, it's history, language families around the world, the tools used in the industry, business advise for start-ups, quality and ethics, etc. In my opinion, it covers the basics that anyone attempting to start in the industry should know both from a qualifications and from a business point of view. The book will not provide you with techniques or actually teach you how to translate or interpret; What it is, in my opinion, is a useful beginner’s guide to the industry, defining it's most essential components.



The test

The test will be mostly based on the materials covered in this book, so you should schedule your test after you've read the material. The exam must be completed in 3 hours. There are multiple choice questions based on the book's material (about 100 as far as I recall), 2 essays (one per each language of your pair) and 2 short passages (less than one page long) to be translated between your two languages.


The certificate

Once you complete your examination, the GTI will grade your test and if you passed they will mail you a certificate. The validity of the certificate will depend on where you intend to use it because in some countries for example, translators must be registered or approved by a specific institution, so make sure you confirm this before you move forward.


In my opinion and in my particular situation, it was a good investment for me to enroll in this program; because of my location and my resources at the time, it was a convenient and affordable way to get started and to be able to have my skills evaluated by a neutral institution in a proctored environment. You must take into consideration that this is not a translation course or class, but only a certification with the intend to measure and test the skills that you already know.

Another example of why family members should not be used as interpreters in health care

Posted by rpospina on February 16, 2015 at 4:05 PM
This is something that many of us have heard before, especially recently with all the attention brought by new proposals for legal reforms by professionals who have seen the negative impact of this practice.


I have witnesed how serious a miscommunication can be in a health care setting without a proper interpreter, but I couldn't help but be surprised at a whole new level when I learned about this case:


On a routine morning, in a reputable health care facility in the Pensacola area, a female patient of foreign nationality – and who did not speak English – was getting ready for her procedure: a tubal ligation. She had been cleared to have the procedure done in a previous appointment, for which her husband served as an interpreter. The day of the procedure, when the provider was getting ready to obtain a signature for the patient's informed consent, she requested the services of a telephone interpreter, in order to provide the patient specific information about the risks, alternatives to the procedure, etc.


When the provider explained this to the patient, the patient's answer was -“But this is not why I came here, that is against my religion”.  Long story short, the patient was brought to have this procedure done under false pretenses by her husband, who wanted her to be sterilized so that they would not have more children, knowing that the patient would not agree to this, due to her religious beliefs. He had her believe she was getting another gynecological procedure done, and he almost got away with it, had it not been by the physician's due diligence of providing a qualified interpreter. What a great catch and a great lesson to be learned by all of us!

10 things anyone who works with an over-the-phone interpreter should know

Posted by rpospina on January 25, 2015 at 4:35 PM

Using the services of a professional over-the-phone interpreter (OPI) has numerous advantages: flexibility to pay for the services as needed, privacy that allows you to have an interpreter while doing a physical examination for a patient, availability 24/7 and on short notice, etc.


Unfortunately, there are many professionals who rely on OPI's to communicate with their limited English proficient clients (LEP) and do not take full advantage of the experience simply because they don't know how to do it. So, here are my two cents about this, from my experiences as an OPI so far:


1. Address the LEP directly. Instead of asking “Interpreter, please ask her for her date of birth” you should simply ask “Ma’am, what is your date of birth?”; professional interpreters are trained to speak in the first person. 


2. You have control of the conversation.  The interpreter's responsibility is to convert what is being said from one language into another exactly as it is being said, not to be the moderator of the conversation. 


3. It is the interpreter's duty to interpret everything that is being said, exactly as it is being said. By everything, I mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G, literarily. If you use very technical language and the LEP doesn't seem to be understanding your statements, you should take this into consideration and adjust your register (the degree of formality of your vocabulary). This also goes for any side comments (good or bad). 


4. Use acronyms and abbreviations wisely or don't use them at all.  While they can be very useful to communicate industry-specific jargon among colleagues, they can be an interpreter's nightmare; please be considerate and if you will use an [uncommon] acronym or abbreviation make sure that at least the first time you use this term, you indicate what it stands for.


5. Be mindful of your pronunciation and the speed of your speech. Communication over the phone does not come without challenges and it can be even more difficult if you are not mindful of your pronunciation and the overall tone and speed of your messages. If  you have a strong accent, please be mindful of that and articulate as best as you can, keeping in mind that the slower the better.


6. Avoid talking over the interpreter. Let's face it, it's simply rude and most importantly, it can result in omissions of important information and miscommunications.


7. You can request a female or male interpreter and sometimes, you should. This is specially important to handle certain medical calls (gynecology, urology) or calls of a somewhat delicate nature (reports of abuse, psychiatric calls, police intake, etc.) Most companies give you the flexibility to request a female or male interpreter for the comfort of your LEP, so make use of this option when appropriate.


8. If you need to transfer the call, please warm transfer. If you have an OPI and you need to transfer your LEP to another extension, please be considerate and explain to your colleague that you have an LEP with an interpreter on the phone to ensure that the transfer goes smoothly.


9. Take your setting into consideration for sound quality purposes. Make sure that you speak loud enough to be heard through a speaker phone if that's your set-up and inform the interpreter when you will be stepping away from the phone or leaving the room; stop speaking if there are crying babies in the room, if your phone is right by your computer you should know that when you type on a loud keyboard, that's pretty much all the interpreter can hear.


10. A few helpful tips. I'd like to share a few tips that might make a difference and improve your communication with your LEP's through an OPI:


  • When listing numbers, state them digit by digit: “50” as “five, zero” = Good. “50” as “fifty” = Not good.
  • When you are providing a spelling, please try to provide a phonetic spelling for consonants.
  • Keep in mind that OPI's are in remote locations and not familiar with your local street names or facilities. Be considerate and pay special attention when pronouncing these names.


And remember... you should speak THROUGH the interpreter, NOT TO the interpreter.

Gifts ideas that any translator / interpreter would appreciate this holiday season

Posted by rpospina on December 7, 2014 at 1:05 AM

The holiday season is upon us and it's one of my favorite times of the year, minus the cold weather. Here is a list of gift ideas for translators and interpreters (T&I):


  • An updated dictionary for their language pair. If you know if they specialize in a specific subject (medical, legal, etc.) then a specialty dictionary would be great too.
  • Ergonomic computer accessories. It's a risky move because they tend to get attached to their office set-up but after spending so much time in front of computers and typing, if you give them an ergonomic accessory their hands, wrists, shoulders and necks will thank you for it.
  • Personalized office tools. You can select anything from sticky-notes, a fancy pen, a portfolio, a tablet's cover, notepads, basically any stationery in general and personalize it with the T&I's name.
  • Industry-related books. You can use social media to find out what's trending in the industry, upcoming books and so forth to make sure you get them something new that most likely they haven't read yet.
  • Comfy loungewear. Let's face it, they know you know they work in their pijamas when they're home, so why not update their casual wardrobe with a new set of comfy loungewear.
  • Software. This is where a big chunk of the T&I's budget is spent. Ask them what kind of programs they currently use or need to make sure you make an appropriate selection.
  • Memberships. Most T&Is are members of an association of some sort; this is a perfect time of the year to offer them a gift card that covers the cost of a membership renewal for next year or for a new membership of their choice.
  • Classes. Continuing education is a requirement in any career nowadays so if you've heard your dear T&I talk about a class that they'd like to attend, this would be a gift that would keep on giving.
  • Tablets. Of course! Most fellows within this industry like and need tablets to stay connected, entertained and help them be more efficient so if you have the budget for it, go for the latest version of their preferred tablet.
  • An excuse to get out of the house. Many T&I's work from home and they can get lonely so help them get out there by gifting them with a local group class where they can learn something new and socialize: yoga, dance, cooking, photography, tennis, wine school, gym membership... the options are endless!






Interpreting for older adults

Posted by rpospina on November 25, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Many times while I am interpreting for older adults, I find myself wondering how strictly should I follow the protocol or stick to my usual norms when doing so may turn into another communication barrier. Here are a few tips that I've gathered to enhance the quality of our interpreting services for older adults:


  • Make sure you have the person's attention before you begin; you can confirm this by making direct eye contact or based on their response when you address them.
  • Start with a very clear pre-session; explain your role and if you have mandatory scripts to follow, try to state them slowly or rephrase them using very plain terms.
  • Confirm that they can hear you; politely ask if they can hear and understand you and make adjustments if needed.
  • Have an adequate position; even though on-site interpreters should position themselves in a way that encourages direct communication between the provider and the LEP, when it comes to older adults interpreters should consider if they should position themselves closer to them, directly in front or whichever way is more convenient for the LEP.
  • If speaking in first person is confusing the LEP, consider switching to third person; follow the intervention protocol and explain the situation to the provider, then continue the rest of the session in the third person only when addressing the LEP.
  • Maintain eye contact; older adults can have difficulties hearing and rely on eye contact to receive information.
  • Interpret words and facial expressions as well; focus on the provider's expressions when asking a question or warning about something serious and make sure to use the appropriate expression.
  • Watch your speech and keep your volume reasonable; unless required because of a hearing impairment, speak slowly and clearly and allow a few seconds between sentences to give them time to process the information.
  • Remember that you can intervene when needed; because of the challenges and vulnerability of this age group, be even more mindful of your role as patient advocate as per the Code of Ethics for Medical Interpreters. If you notice that the LEP seems confused by the terminology or explanations, use your professional judgment to intervene and suggest paraphrasing or request for permission to ask the LEP specific questions to pinpoint their concern.
  • Be respectful. Be understanding. Be patient; address them as the adult that they are and don't patronize them.


 Source this article:  The skills of communication in aged care


The Merriam-Webster's Spanish-English Medical Dictionary

Posted by rpospina on October 21, 2014 at 3:15 PM
As an interpreter, about 80% of the sessions I handle are related to the medical industry. A while back I bought the Merriam-Webster's Spanish – English Medical Dictionary and I wanted to share with you my review of this very useful tool.


It has just over 600 pages, but it's compact and light, perfect to bring with you to on-site assignments where access to an online dictionary may not be available.

In the instructions, it has information on how to use the dictionary and gives you explanations of the various English and Spanish sounds as well as orthographic changes and cognates (words that are related in their origin in both languages)

There are over 12,000 terms translated between English < > Spanish, but what I really like about it is that it gives you first the translation into the other language, and then it gives you an easy definition of the word in plain terms; in many cases, it gives you several definitions depending on the context and the translation of each one of them, which is great.

Another pleasant surprise was the Appendixes; each one has a comprehensive list of complete sentences and dialogues that are commonly used in health care settings. They are grouped by category ranging from basic questions for the patients, specialty-specific terminology, appointment settings and vocabulary specific to various diagnosis: diabetes, cancer, HIV, etc.


All in all, I think this is a great tool not only for medical interpreters and translators, but also for any professional within the health care industry. 

Do I need a Video or Telephonic Interpreter?

Posted by rpospina on October 18, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Both have a lot in common:


  • Flexibility to provide an interpreter in short-notice.
  • Broad availability to get interpreters for rare, uncommon or very high-demand languages.
  • Usually offered in a per-minute basis, eliminating additional costs of minimum time required for in-person interpreters.


However, when it comes down to the actual interpretation things are a little bit different. As an interpreter whose workload is mainly over the phone and related to the medical field, I'd like to list some situations in which conducting a session through a video platform can be much more accurate and effective:


  • Situations where there are several individuals in the same room. Because that way the interpreter can take note of who said what and make sure that everything that is being said is interpreted accurately.
  • Situations in which there will be many changes (like different people coming in and out of the room)
  • Interpreting for older adults: Because body language and visual queues are specially important for this age group.
  • When long periods of silence will be expected (due to a procedure being done or an emotionally-charged visit) because a phone interpreter would be wondering if the person is still there or if the line was disconnected.
  • Physical therapy (PT) sessions: During these sessions the therapist is giving a set of instructions to the patient to perform exercises and activities for which having a visual of what's going on could be very helpful for the interpreter.
  • Diabetic teachings: Because even though for diabetic teachings a good portion of what it taught is theory about diet, when it comes to teach patients about preparing the syringe or pen to inject insulin, or how to use the glucometer there are so many “turn this up to here”, “move this part down there” and being able to see what is being done is crucial for the interpreter.
  • Occupational therapy sessions: When patients are getting instructions to learn how to get in and out of bed, sit down, stand up or dress themselves.


The list goes on and it can be applied to many different fields but this can give you an idea of what kind of scenarios could be best handled by a video interpreter instead of a telephonic one.

Interested? I can offer video-remote interpretation services through the brand-new Capiche platform which is now part of the renowned STRATUS video interpreting. This platform allows you to reach a video-remote interpreter by simply downloading an app on your smart phone. Also, it gives you the possibility of building a network of your preferred interpreters and establish on-going relationships with them – something highly unlikely with other platforms.

How to prepare for your first simultaneous interpreting assignment

Posted by rpospina on August 4, 2014 at 12:25 PM

I'd like to share with my fellow interpreters a number of tips that other professionals kindly provided when I was preparing for my first simultaneous interpreting assignment. To recap the basics, simultaneous interpreting requires the interpreter to render what the speaker is saying in language “X” into language “Y”, while the speech is taking place (hence the name simultaneous):

 Become familiar with the terminology. Read.


  • Ask for the draft of the speech, talking points, presentation slides, program or any kind of information you can get in advance about the event.
  • Study this material and visit the websites related to the event's subject. 
  • Create a list of specific terms and pay special attention to names, titles, locations and acronyms (along with their translation, of course) 


 Once you've learned the terminology, practice.


  • Start with video/audio of subjects that you are familiar with and that have subtitles (for example, your favorite TV show in the source language); play the show and start interpreting simultaneously with the help of the subtitles or closed caption.
  • Once you feel comfortable doing this, start practicing without the subtitles and record yourself. You'll be able to hear the quality of your renditions and the sound of your voice.
  • You should then move on to practice with video/audio related to the subject of your assignment. YouTube and the Itunes Podcasts are a great source for that. Record yourself again and make the necessary corrections.
  • Lastly, search online for any information that you can find about the speakers; if you're lucky, you may even find a video/audio so that you can become familiar with their tone of voice, accent, etc.

Obtain information about the equipment and interpreter's set-up.


  • Ask the company for the brand/model of the equipment that you will use and research it. Some companies may send you the equipment by mail, if so, you'll get a chance to try it out beforehand.
  • Find out if you will be in a booth, table, conference room, etc. that way you can plan ahead and prepare accordingly (you'll know if you can bring your laptop or tablet, how should you dress up, even the size of your notepad will need to be planned in advanced based on this information).


A few words of advice:


  • DO NOT practice with the news broadcast on the TV.
  • Focus on the quality of your renditions and not the quantity.
  • Don't try to speak too fast or too loud to overcompensate if you feel you are falling behind.
  • Stay calm and focus.



Does my translation need to be notarized?

Posted by rpospina on May 9, 2014 at 4:00 PM

This is a common question among my clients who need official documents to be translated (birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.); the answer is: it depends.

If your document was originated outside of the United States and you need a translation into English (for example, for immigration purposes) what is required by most US entities is a certified translation; one that has a certification from the translator that confirms that the translation from the foreign language into English is accurate. In these cases, a notary is not necessary.  

However, if what you need is a translation of a document issued in the United States and this document will be used overseas, then first of all you need to confirm if this country is participating in the Hague Convention of 1961; if the country that will receive your documents is participating in this international convention, then it will require an apostille. An apostille is an internationally recognized form of authentication that validates a stamp or seal affixed to a document. In this case, the translation would need to be certified by the translator who would sign the certification in front of a notary; then you should bring your document to the corresponding official entity to get the apostille. For the state of Florida, you can find specific instructions here.  

These are the most common guidelines, but you should always verify with the instution that will use your document if a notary or apostille is required or not. As a certified translator, I can issue officially certified translations following the guidelines dictated by the USCIS and other U.S. entities and I can also issue certified translations notarized by a Florida notary, so that they can get the proper apostille within the state. 

Eco-friendly Translators and Interpreters

Posted by rpospina on April 23, 2014 at 1:10 AM

It's Earth Day! These are some things that we can do as interpreters and translators to help preserve our planet:


1. When possible, take notes with your computer or tablet instead of pen and paper.

2. Be conscious when printing; use both sides of the sheets for your proofreads.

3. Activate the energy-saving settings on your computer and don't leave your monitor on.

4. If you print your business cards, use recycled paper.

5. Avoid buying bottled water; get a reusable thermos instead.

6. Adjust the temperature of your thermostat or open your windows whenever you can.

7. Buy e-books instead of paperbacks.

8. Recycle your electronics.

9. Get fluorescent light bulbs.

10. Shop local. Shop smart. Select Eco-friendly products.

10 advantages that only a local translator can offer

Posted by rpospina on April 9, 2014 at 1:35 AM


There are many benefits that a local translator can offer you versus a distant professional or agency. I'd like to clarify that I have done this under two assumptions: 1) that your local translator is indeed a professional translator and 2) that he/she is capable of working with the type of project that you need (based on their specialization or experience).


1. It's easier to get in touch with the translator. It's a lot easier to get in touch with a local translator than trying to reach out to a company based who-knows-where, that will probably get you to an automatic call answering system. With your local translator, you also have the possibility to have a personal meeting and discuss your project.


2. You can bring your documents to the translator in person. If you don't have access to a scanner, fax or smart phone or if you don't feel comfortable sharing certain information online, only with a local translator you have this option. 


3. There are more options to submit payment. Once your project is completed, it 's very convenient to be able to pay not only with a credit card or PayPal, but also with a check, money order or good old cash. As an added value on top of this is the fact that most local translators will give you the chance to pay upon completion of your project and don't require prepayment for each and every service.

4. You can get your documents faster. You can arrange the delivery of the document not only online or by mail, but also by choosing to pick it up from the translator's office or even having the translator deliver the document to you (if they offer this optional service).

5. If a change or correction is needed, your translator is right there! Yes, that can certainly be a relieve. 

6. You can verify the credentials of the translator. You'll know exactly who you are working with and you have ways to verify this person's credentials thoroughly.

7. It's easier to protect the privacy of your information. Again, along the same lines of point #6, because you know exactly who are you working with, you have an additional layer of protection and in the unlikely event that things go wrong, you'll know exactly who to hold accountable. 

8. If you need more documents translated in the future, you know who will do it for you. If you need similar translation services in the future, you will have consistency with the outcome if you use a local translator, who knows you and who knows how to work for you.

9. It's someone that you could add to your local circles.  I am proud to say that I have developed relationships with my local clients that started with the request of a service: Someone that just moved to the area and doesn't know many people, someone that is pleased to find out that we come from the same country, or someone who also has a small local business that can turn me into a client as well.


10. Buying local is simply good. It's sustainable and it promotes the advancement of your local community. 


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