Finland upgrading training for interpreters in “rare languages”
Source: HELSINGIN SANOMATStory flagged by RominaZ
A shortage of qualified interpreters for rare languages has occasionally led to awkward and sometimes bizarre situations at doctors’ offices, the police, and at the Finnish Immigration Service, when friends or family members have had to fill in.See: HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Tatjana Andrejev, the director of the Helsinki Region Community Interpreting Centre, says that in one case, a parent, whose child served as interpreter at a doctor’s office, was led to believe that he or she was dying of cancer, because the child had not understood that the tumour that was found was benign.
“The child heard only the frightening word “tumour”. Sometimes it can take hours to clear up mistakes like this.”
The centre has about 400 interpreters of rare languages (rare in the sense that few native Finns speak them) whose job is to help immigrants in their everyday lives in the four cities of the greater Helsinki region. Many more would be needed, and training has been sporadic, at best.
However, now at the Diakonia University of Applied Sciences, training has begun for professional interpreters to help immigrants in their everyday business.
In Helsinki, 27 speakers of rare languages are being taught to interpret between Finnish and Somali, Arabic, the Soran dialect of Kurdish, Persian, and Vietnamese. Another 20 are undergoing such training in Turku.
One of the students, Bakhcha Shaban in Helsinki says that some people are taking advantage of the current shortage of interpreters.
“Private interpreter centres are popping up, and the officials don’t care.”
There are seven municipally run interpreters’ centres. Andrejev estimates that about a third of the interpreters have training in the profession.
The shortage is most acute in the Helsinki region, where the proportion of speakers of foreign languages in the population is expected to be nearly one fifth in 2030.
The new law on immigrant integration also adds to demand for qualified interpreters.
“There is a need for trained interpreters around the country”, says Kristina Stenman of the Ministry of the Interior.