Resources for Medical Interpreters: Skill-Building and Medical Terminology

Below is a collection of resources that can be used to practice consecutive and simultanious interpreting skills, and sight translation skills. I am hoping these resources will be useful for healthcare interpreters with all levels of experience – those just starting out and preparing to take their exams or their first assignments, or those with years of experience wanting to brush up on a specific topic. This list is constantly updated as I find new resources and I welcome your suggestions – leave a comment below or get in touch using the Contact tab.

Medical Dialogues and Scenarios

Video and audio-based medical dialogues and role-plays

Text-based medical dialogues

Sight Translation & Glossary Building

control-427510_1280Websites with translated healthcare information are a treasure trove of sight translation practice. The reason why I prefer such websites over millions of other resources for sight translations (e.g. medical brochures you can pick up in most hospitals for free) is that, because you have documents in both English and another language (say, Russian or Arabic), you pretty much have a ready-made answer key!

How to do sight translation practice:

Bilingual/translated materials:

  1. Open a document in one language.
  2. Record yourself sight translating the document, then listen to your translation and compare with the translated document. While your version does not have to be identical to the one on the website, it will still give you an idea of how well you did.
  3. Now do it in the other direction – from your language into English.
  4. Make sure to record new vocabulary into your vocabulary log!

English only materials:

  1. Open a document in one language.
  2. Record yourself sight translating the document, then listen to your translation while looking at the original document. Were there any omissions, additions or errors? Did the translation flow smoothly?
  3. Make sure to record new vocabulary into your vocabulary log!

You can also use these documents to build glossaries. Start by reading in English and highlighting words/phrases you are struggling to translate. Then check the translated version and try to find an equivalent there.

  • Medical Sight Translation Practice: Kelly (Grzech) Henriquez has put together an amazing collection of materials to practice sight translation – as well as some tips and tricks.
  • MedicinePlus contains information for the public in about 50 languages, from the US National Library of Medicine. Most documents come as bilingual pdfs which is absolutely perfect for sight translation!
  • Multi-Language Health History Forms. Download one in English and one in your language.
  • University of Washington Medical Center offers translations of patient education materials.
  • Health Information Translated. The resource is a database of healthcare documents translated into a number of languages (I counted 18!) including Spanish, Arabic, and Russian. The documents include, among other things, care instructions, disease and condition descriptions, diagnostic test and procedure descriptions, information on stress and coping, diet and nutrition.
  • Medi-Cal Eligibility Division (MCED) Translated Forms in 12 languages. Sight translation practice procedure as the above.
  • Translated information on health and well-being (Australia).
  • Patient Education Section from EthnoMed. EthnoMed is Harborview Medical Center’s ethnic medicine website containing medical and cultural information about immigrant and refugee groups.  EthnoMed is a joint program of the University of Washington Health Sciences Libraries and Harborview Medical Center’s Interpreter Services Department/Community House Calls Program (ISD/CHC).
  • Vaccination Handouts in several languages.
  • Advice on practicing your sight translation skills from the California Courts website
  • Introduction to the Sight Translation Chapter (from The Interpreter’s Edge, Generic Edition) which includes a sight translation exercise (autopsy report)
  • Patient Materials from U.S. National Library of Medicine in over 20 languages (including the documents from Health Documents Translated). Description from the website: Find culturally relevant information in multiple languages and formats about health conditions and wellness topics. Learn about diseases, causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Materials may be available as printable documents, audio, and video. Search by language, choose a format or browse by keyword.
  • Resources from the offficial page of CCHI (Certification Commission For Healthcare Interpreters): here and here.

Other Resources

  • For  resources specific to interpreting in oncology (cancer care). You can find it here. 
  • For resources related to idioms for medical interpreters click here and here.
  • To learn about self-care for medical interpreters, click here.
  • For ideas on glossary building, click here.
  • For a list of podcasts related to medicine in English, see here.
  • For recommendations for TV shows medical interpreters, click here.
  • For recommendations of books for medical interpreters, click here.
  • For a list of blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels for interpreters, click here.
  • For recommendations for Russian-language podcasts and medical books click here and here.

    More about the author: About Yuliya Speroff

    Interested in my interpreter training services and would like to collaborate? Read more about the workshops I am able to offer in Interpreter Training 

    Want to get in touch? Contact me

25 thoughts on “Resources for Medical Interpreters: Skill-Building and Medical Terminology

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