Translator: A person who converts a text to another language in writing.

Interpreter: A person who orally converts the spoken word from one language to another.

Interested in becoming an interpreter:

CONTACT: Leah Palmer, ELL Director, 508-693-2007 ext 28 or email

Requirements for translating/interpreting for Martha's Vineyard Public Schools:

1. Fluent in English and other language
2. Passed a course and assessment on interpreting and/or translating
3. Letter of reference
4. Prior experience translating/interpreting
5. Signed Code of Ethics
6. Paperwork at Superintendent's office complete

Looking for Interpreting/Translating Programs and Classes:

Embracing Culture:

NYU, summer On-line translating course:

Cape Cod Community College/Medical Interpreter:

UMass Amherst:

Boston University:

ATA, American Translators Association:


If you have to get information to parents asap, e.g. please have you child wear sneakers tomorrow, here is a resource for google translate:

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*adapted from Howard CountyPublic School System, How to Effectively Use Interpreters for Parent-Teacher Conferences Brochure
Creating the Best Environment
  • Decide who will initiate greetings and introductions.
  • Have the interpreter sit slightly behind or next to the parent.
  • Look at and speak directly to the parent.
  • Explain your teaching role. (I am John’s math teacher.)
  • Make a positive personal comment about the student.
  • Recognize that a conference with an interpreter could take twice as much time.
Conveying Information
  • Understand that the interpreter may ask for clarifications of terminology.
  • Explain acronyms such as RTI (Response to Intervention) and educational terms such as “read aloud” and “reading log.”
  • Explain one idea using two or three sentences, then pause for interpreting.
  • Do not shuffle papers or talk to others while the interpreter is speaking.
  • Avoid using educational jargon, slang or figures of speech.
  • Provide examples of written work, projects or assignments.
  • Explain the use of communication tools such as agenda books or weekly calendars.
  • Ask parents if they have any questions.
  • Suggest or ask if a follow-up conference or contact is needed.
  • Check for understanding and clarify if necessary. Some school system vocabulary may be unfamiliar to both parents and interpreters.

Providing Suggestions for ELL Parents/Guardians
Be sensitive to the cultural context of the family when making suggestions.
Remember that the parents come from various backgrounds.
Teachers may make suggestions; however, not all ELL parents/guardians are ready or able to implement them.

  • Establish a routine for checking and completing homework.
  • Encourage parents to use their native language with their children.
  • Encourage children to read regularly in their first or second language.
  • Offer alternative methods for staying in touch, i.e., conference, email, phone, etc.