Hampshire Young Interpreter Scheme

PSA winner

The Young Interpreter Scheme™ is the overall and grassroots excellence winner of the

Guardian Public Services Awards – November 2013.

What is the scheme?

The Young Interpreter Scheme™ provides additional support to pupils who are learning English as an Additional Language (EAL), to their families and to schools. It recognises the huge potential that exists within each school community for pupils of all ages to use their skills and knowledge to support new learners of English so that they feel safe settled and valued from the start.

Young Interpreters undergo specific training to prepare for this role and are selected on the basis of different personal qualities they may have. The support they can offer to a newly-arrived pupil can be very reassuring from a parent or carer’s point of view at a time when their child may be adapting to substantial changes. It also supports school staff in a variety of ways at different points during the school day.

How can I train Young Interpreters at my school?

Hampshire EMTAS has published the Young Interpreter Scheme Guidance pack. The Primary pack includes training materials to use with pupils at Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2 while the Secondary pack can be used with pupils at Key Stages 3 and 4. The pack includes all the materials you need to train your Young Interpreters together with a DVD, access to a Moodle account, half-termly newsletter, Twitter and Facebook Young Interpreter pages.

Who is the scheme for?

Making the scheme available to both bilingual and monolingual learners can be very powerful in developing empathy amongst English speakers towards some of the challenges and difficulties that pupils new to English may be facing. There is guidance in the pack to support Young Interpreter coordinators when inviting pupils to participate.

Is this scheme right for my school?

The Young Interpreter Scheme™ can be used in a variety of settings – either where a number of pupils share the same language, or where there are isolated EAL learners. Details of engaging activities to keep Young Interpreters motivated about their role in times when there are fewer new arrivals can be found in the Young Interpreter Scheme Guidance.

What do Young Interpreters do?

Bilingual pupils use their language skills in a variety of ways to help new arrivals access English and feel part of the school. Alongside English-only speakers, they learn different strategies to clarify, explain and ‘interpret’ a whole range of school activities, systems and procedures to new entrants through the medium of pupil–friendly English where first language isn’t shared by other pupils or adults.

Young Interpreters do not replace the need for professional adult interpreters. Exhaustive guidance on the role of Young Interpreters and situations where it is most appropriate to involve them can be found in the Young Interpreter Scheme Guidance. Young Interpreters are trained and guided by a designated member of the school staff who can ensure pupils’ safeguarding.

What do children and young people think about their role?

  • “We are extremely proud to be part of this excellent scheme!" International Community School, Amman, Jordan
  • “I get a great sense of achievement when I see the students I have supported do well in their lessons.” Jake, William Howard School, Cumbria
  • “I got picked because I have lots of different qualities: I like to help people and I work quite hard in all my lessons.” Chloe, Fairfields Primary School, Hampshire.

What does Ofsted say?

  • “Those pupils who act as 'Young Interpreters' make an outstanding contribution to enabling those pupils speaking little English and their parents or carers, take a full part in all school activities.” Ofsted, November 2010, King’s Furlong Infant School and Nursery, Hampshire
  • “Inspectors saw some excellent examples of student leadership, including the Young Interpreter group, who give very good support to those students who are learning English as an additional language.” Ofsted, March 2013, Aldworth School, Hampshire.

Video 1 - An interview with a professional interpreter

Key Stage 3 and 4 young interpreters can be introduced to developing their interpreting skills into a career. The clip below is an extract of a video on the accompanying DVD to the Young Interpreters pack.

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Young interpreter Scheme - transcript for videos

Meet Kamaljit Dulai

Ok Mrs Gupta… (speaks in Punjabi).

Namaste, my name is Kamaljit Dulai and I work for Hampshire Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service as Bilingual Assistant Manager. As part of my job, I do have to interpret for parents or outside agencies sometimes and today I’m going to talk to you about my experience as an interpreter.

How long have you worked as an interpreter?

I have been working for… I think for the last 12 years I’ve been doing interpreting for parents.

What qualifications do you need to become a professional interpreter?

Nowadays there are all sorts of diplomas and a range of post graduate courses you can go into but I attended a six-week interpreting and translation course before I started interpreting professionally.

What are the qualities of a good interpreter?

To be a good interpreter, you need… the first thing you need to keep in mind is that you need to be very aware of the confidentiality issues. You need to keep an open mind because you might know the person you are interpreting for already so you need to forget all about that and keep an open mind. And you need to be confident, you need to have knowledge of the topic, you need to have that sort of confidence to ask the person beforehand that for interpreting, you need to know what the topic is about so you can prepare yourself.

What difficulties have you encountered?

Mainly, sometimes what happens is first, people don’t turn up and then you’re late and then because sometimes in my situation I meet another Punjabi family or Hindi speaker and the parent, mother or father, would like to talk to you because they’ve seen someone from their own country and language and they would like to talk to you and you want to avoid that. As a professional interpreter, you need to just stick to the point. You are only interpreting what you’ve been asked to do. And sometimes it’s difficult to ask people to wait until the meeting finishes and then I’ll probably have a chat with you. And they still would like your personal number which you have to avoid because you can’t give your private telephone number to anyone. The other thing is as well sometimes, the professional who asked for interpreting, they’re not experienced, they don’t know how to use an interpreter so they don’t pause, they don’t give you time to interpret so sometimes it’s difficult but then, if you’re confident enough, you can sort of stop people and say “sorry, please can you stop and give me an opportunity to interpret?”. These are the main things. The other thing is location, you need sometimes to keep that in mind. In some cases, people don’t think and they’ll have the session anywhere. You need to have the session where there is very low distraction so you don’t get distracted and the parent or person you’re interpreting for don’t get distracted by the outside noise.

What should you avoid when interpreting?

I would, like I said, avoid talking. Just stick to the point, don’t add any of your own ideas. That is very important and very easily done sometimes because you would like to add your own opinion but if you’re interpreting, you’re not entitled, you shouldn’t. You should also keep in mind why you’re there for and you should avoid being in that sort of situation where you’re getting too personal – keep your professional status.

I find is very rewarding because it gives you great satisfaction when you’re interpreting for someone and you’re thinking you’ve passed the message across from one person to another  and they’re able to express their feelings through you, which is a great enjoyment and satisfaction for you.

In what kind of situations have you been asked to interpret?

I’ve been in all sorts of situations, mostly in schools, interpreting for parents -sometimes for annual reports, sometimes around behavioural issues. But in some occasions, it’s for social services, so for child protection issues or some other issues such as domestic violence – I’ve worked with all sorts of agencies.

What advice would like to give to Young Interpreters?

All I would like to say is they do need to keep cultural issues in mind. When you’re interpreting for someone, make sure you know that for some people for example, they don’t like direct contact, they don’t like to shake hands. Also, some men don’t like to talk to women so you need to be aware of who you are interpreting for. Keep those sorts of issues in mind. And like I already mentioned, confidentiality is a must. Keep an open mind. You need to practise, you need to prepare yourself before you start interpreting. Don’t just go and start interpreting. You must prepare yourself.



young interpreters tm logo


  • Young interpreters on hand to help new pupils  - It's never easy starting a new school but imagine if you don't even speak the language? A new initiative is being rolled out across Hampshire to help children from different cultures. (Meridian news Dec 2013)

Young Interpreter Scheme (YIS) information


Young Interpreters now have their very own Moodle. Practitioners can access forums, interactive advice and guidance along with the latest news and events relating to the scheme. For more details, please visit and log on as a guest.