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Working through a translator


Does anyone have any experience of working through a translator in Poland and the Czech republic and if so do you have any tips? I have a contract to supply consultancy support for culture development.
will craigie

3 Responses

  1. Working through Translators

    I’ve not worked with Polish or Czech translators but have worked with Chinese groups with a translator. My Mandarin doesn’t stretch much beyond hello, my name is … , thank you.

    I found it helpful to talk with the translators in advance to help them understand the concepts I am delivering and also to get a feel for how much they want me to say before they translate.

    I also found it helpful to get some information about the delegates’ backgrounds, culture, etc.

    If the translator is beside you you’ll need to ensure only one of you is talking at any one time. Also, be clear with them how you want the delegates’ contributions translated back to you.

    If you are using group activities, are you going to go round the groups? If so, how do you want the translator to help you listen in?

    When using a flip chart I found it useful to have the translator working on a second flip chart in Chinese so that we had everything in Chinese and English.

    I also had all handouts, PowerPoints, pre-prepared flips, etc, in both languages.

    Hope this helps, happy to discuss further if you want to contact me at david(at)

    Hope it all goes well for you,


  2. Working in Poland and Czech Rep
    I have worked extensively in both countries doing both training and consultancy.
    I agree with the comments below and will see if I can add some more.
    In talking to the translator beforehand do build up a rapport. They will probably ask you to speak for two or three whole sentences at a time but do check that out. Most prefer consecutive translation but I have worked with a couple who do near simultaneous translation (which is amazing). Give them breaks. Check out any special terms beforehand. For example, tell them exactly what you mean by ‘culture development’.
    Try and find out about equivalent sayings – our killing two birds with one stone is killing two flies with one swat in the Czech Republic. The translator will help with this. I found the humour translated well and helped break the ice, but you will probably need to feel your way at the start depending on the type of organisations/cultures you will be working with.
    Speak to the client not the translator, and don’t forget to keep eye contact with the client, and nod etc., when the translator is speaking.
    You will be very dependant on your translator but do expect many people you meet to speak a little English, and to understand more than they speak. And do try and learn a few words of the language (they are both Slavonic languages and quite similar). The translator can help you with pronunciation.
    I’m sure you will enjoy it. Best of luck.

  3. Working in Czech republic
    Thanks for the sound advice and best wishes guys.
    Its good to get out of your comfort zone…


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