The difference between hiring a translator and asking your bilingual staff member

If you’re an employer or a business owner, you know how important it is to hire the right people for your team.


You may find yourself in a position where you have a bilingual staff member who knows the two languages that you’re need a translation or interpretation for.


Why not ask the bilingual member of your team to do the translation?


Here are reasons why hiring a translator is different than asking your bilingual staff member to complete the job.


Your bilingual staff member has a job.


If their job doesn’t include language translation and interpretation, then you shouldn’t ask them to complete your project. 


Why? It may seem like an easy solution, but it could harm your relationship with your staff member. They may feel like they’re being asked to do something outside of their job scope, they may feel like you’re making assumptions about their language ability, or they may feel something else that makes them upset that they’re being asked.


When you hire a translator or interpreter, you’re hiring someone who is qualified for your specific task. 


Someone who is bilingual may not having the experience or qualifications that accompany language translation and interpretation services. Just because someone knows two languages doesn’t mean they are going to have the skills to complete your project.


Finally, it may cause unnecessary tension or confusion if you ask a bilingual staff member to complete a project instead of hiring a language interpreter or translator. If your staff member doesn’t know the context or isn’t familiar with the specific language and jargon it could be embarrassing for them, make them confused, and it could result in a translation that isn’t accurate.


It’s always important to recognize that just because someone knows more than one language does not mean that they are qualified or willing to translate for you.


Please do not assume that people want to be an interpreter or translator just because you think you could.


If you have a bilingual staff member who is open and willing, you may be able to have an honest conversation and ask them – let them know all the information to determine if it’s a task they’re confident and wanting to do.


But when in doubt, we strongly recommend working with a qualified and trained professional for your language interpretation or translation project.


If you need to get connected with a professional, we would be happy to help. Please reach out today. 






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