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Are you considering using bilingual employees as part of your language access plan? If so, you’ll need to consider the differences between hiring employees when compared to using a language services provider. Here are four critical questions you should be able to answer confidently before choosing the right direction for your organization:

1. What job duties will your bilingual employees have?

If you plan to use bilingual employees to provide language services, you must include these duties in their job descriptions. This is especially crucial for healthcare employees since Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits bilingual staff from interpreting unless it’s listed as part of “the individual’s current, assigned job responsibilities.”

Bilingual employees will also need to know how much of their time they’ll dedicate to providing language support. In customer support roles, it’s relatively easy to send all inquiries from Spanish speakers to an employee who speaks the language. However, it may not be as simple to balance multiple job functions assigned to an employee. Consider these questions:

  • How will you ensure vital tasks get completed when the bilingual employee is busy helping limited-English patrons?
  • How can you set your employees up for success in all aspects of their job performance?
  • Will you offer higher compensation for bilingual employees?
  • Are there any challenges with updating an existing employees’ job description to include interpretation? What about changing job descriptions for future bilingual employees?
  • How will you handle language access if a bilingual employee leaves your organization?

2. How will you train bilingual employees to interpret effectively?

There are many skills needed to be an effective interpreter. Simply speaking another language doesn’t necessarily mean a person will have the ability to guide clear communication. For example, CyraCom trains employee interpreters to deliver meaning-for-meaning interpretations for accurate and complete communication. We cover ethical practices, vocabulary-building practices, provide multiple resources in hundreds of languages, and even cover confidentiality and security best practices.

While your organization may have existing training specific to your industry, it’s likely you don’t have a curriculum in place specifically for bilingual employees. Developing language support training is time-consuming and daunting if you’ve never done so before.

  • How will you know if the training covers everything your employees will need to know?
  • How will you measure the strength of your training program and the impact it has on those who participate?
  • How much time will interpreter training add to your onboarding process?

Did you know?

CyraCom offers a three-day Interpreter Skills Development Course to help organizations teach their bilingual employee interpreters the ethics, standards, and protocols needed to be qualified interpreters. We also offer an Interpreter Skills Assessment, which is available in more than 20 languages.

3. How will you measure bilingual employees’ language skills?

Whether you plan to hire new bilingual employees or utilize existing employees to communicate with limited-English proficient people, you’ll need to determine their abilities. For the healthcare industry, proving your employees can act as qualified interpreters is essential for meeting the Affordable Care Act’s Section 1557 and related Joint Commission assessment standards.

  • How will you measure language fluency? Will this strategy work for languages other than Spanish?
  • How will you test for industry-specific vocabulary?
  • Do you have resources available to help bilingual employees study for your assessment?

Did you know?

CyraCom offers a Language Proficiency Assessment in more than 45 languages, which is an easy way to determine how well someone speaks their second language. The assessment uses the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) standards, a US federal organization that coordinates and shares information about language-related activities.

4. What are the benefits of choosing a remote interpretation provider?

After considering the previous three critical questions, you may have doubts about your organization's available resources to use bilingual employees as interpreters. You may also wonder how you'll ensure bilingual employees will balance all of their job duties. In this case, it may be better to invest in remote interpreter services. There are many benefits of choosing remote interpretation, including:

  • Access to interpreters for hundreds of languages: While hiring bilingual employees who speak the top languages spoken in your region may be beneficial, how will you help clients or customers who speak other languages? Partnering with a language services provider (LSP) helps you communicate with people who speak less common languages.
  • Save time and resources: Hiring an LSP leaves the responsibility of training and assessment to the experts. You won’t have to worry about developing a curriculum, evaluating fluency, or determining if your employee interpreters meet qualification standards.
  • Simplify your employees’ roles: The more job duties an employee has, there’s less time and attention they can devote to each task. If you need individual employees to serve multiple functions, leaving interpreting to an LSP can free up their time to focus on other duties.

Learn more about the benefits of choosing CyraCom’s phone interpretation and video interpretation services.

Want to discuss your remote interpretation needs?
Our team is here to help.

Let CyraCom help you weigh your options. Contact us via email at or call us at 1-844-727-6739.

Lindsay Lawson

Lindsay Lawson

An experienced researcher, writer, and editor on language services-related topics, specializing in interpreting and translation services, how language works.