The coronavirus epidemic has forced a sudden migration to distance learning for students across the globe.
North America is particularly diverse and its educators have been faced with a unique challenge: communicating remotely with a student (or parent) who speaks limited English. This is a significant issue, as one in five U.S. residents speaks a language other than English at home.
Accomplishing this requires school personnel to solve the technology challenge of adding an interpreter to their video conferences for online learning.
There is good news for educators who have asked in recent weeks about adding interpreters on video conferences as part of remote education. It is completely do-able!
In fact, there are two simple ways to incorporate a professional interpreter into a distance-learning video conference. These interpreters are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in more than 240 languages.
Before You Begin
Assuming your school has a LanguageLine account, you’ll need your designated 800 number and your unique Client ID number. You can get these from your district’s language-access coordinator. (We provide instructions below for those who are not yet LanguageLine clients.)
Once you have these things, you’re ready to start.
Please note that in both of the versions below, the interpreter will join the call via audio only. The other parties will be able to hear the interpreter, but not see them. Unfortunately students or parents who require American Sign Language cannot utilize this service, though we hope to soon announce a solution for them, as well.
Version 1: Place a call from within the video-conferencing platform
Most video platforms have the ability to dial out and place an outbound audio call to a third party. (Some platforms only make this feature available as a premium option, however.)
The experience for the educator is quite seamless.
- On the video platform interface, they simply click the button that allows for an audio call to a third party. Often this can be initiated by clicking a button marked “Invite.”
- Select the option marked “Invite by Phone”
- Enter the dedicated LanguageLine 800 telephone number. If prompted for a name for the new participant, type “Interpreter.”
- When a connection is made, follow these voice prompts to select your language and connect to an interpreter:
LanguageLine: “Thank you for calling LanguageLine. Please speak the name of the desired language.”
LanguageLine: “I understood Mandarin?”
LanguageLine: “I am connecting you to a Mandarin interpreter.”
- The LanguageLine interpreter will join the call within seconds. The educator should brief the interpreter on the nature of the conversation, and then the discussion begins.
Version 2: Use the conference-call feature on your phone to bring in an interpreter
This version is an alternative for those using video platforms that do not have a third-party dial-out option.
When you join a video conference, you are given the option to use your computer or phone for audio. In this instance, you would select the phone-audio option.
Most phones have the ability to add a third party using its conference-call or “Add Call” feature. Using this feature is easy.
In this instance, the teacher would first call the student or parent. Once that connection is made, they’d take the following steps:
- On their smartphone, the teacher taps “Add Call.”
- The teacher then dials the LanguageLine 800 number and inputs the access code.
- The teacher then hears a prompt saying, “Press 1 for Spanish. Press 2 for other languages.”
- After following the prompts to the appropriate language, an interpreter comes on the line within seconds.
- The teacher taps “Merge Calls” to connect both parties together.
Instructions for phone calls
There may be times when video is not necessary and an educator will want to connect with a student or parent by phone. To do so, simply follow the instructions in this article.
Set up within days
Existing LanguageLine clients can take advantage of these methods right away. All they need is their unique LanguageLine 800 number and Client ID.
For new accounts, a service like this can be set up in a matter of days.
This interpreting service is pay-as-you-go. You only pay for the minutes you use.
Non-LanguageLine clients who are interested in this service should contact us via this form or call 800-752-6096. We will quickly assess your needs and immediately provide you with potential solutions.
LanguageLine Can Help
LanguageLine imagines a world without language or cultural barriers. We created the language access industry in 1982 and handled more than 40 million interactions last year.
We are able to get educators connected to our team of 11,000 professional, on-demand interpreters via audio or video in 30 seconds or less. We can also translate and localize your written content. We do this in more than 240 languages, and we do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
It all starts with a conversation. Please contact us via our website or by calling 800-752-6096. We would like to learn more about the language or cultural challenge you may be facing.