Conversant Interpreter: Real Solutions for your Interpreting and Training Needs

Angela Chenus

-a professional, consortium-certified French interpreter; specializing in legal interpreting

Today, ninety percent of the clients I serve come from nations in Africa. For the past nine years, I have been learning about this community, their individual brands of French and their cultural diversity. I am fairly fluent in Canadian French as well. I have lived in both the United States (country of origin) and France (country of adoption).

Legal services, my specialty, include but are not limited to: court proceedings; civil, criminal, juvenile and family, immigration issues, depositions, insurance and patent law.

Expert consultation services:

Do you want to improve the way your staff works with interpreters?  Would you like to improve your interpreters’ skills? We provide consultation services and arbitration, as well as training for staff and/or interpreters.

Contact: email:

Phone: (563) 293-3494

*Certified, class A, by the National Center for State Courts, in Illinois and Iowa, with reciprocity in federal courts and most states.

From State to Federal for LOTS Interpreters

This is the title of a session I plan to present at upcoming conferences; beginning with the NAJIT conference in May. If you are an interpreter in a language other than Spanish, you may or may not know that this is the term used for you and your language pair: you are a LOTS interpreter. In the United States, the Spanish language is ubiquitous, and the need for Spanish interpreters is as well. The federal court system long ago established a procedure to certify Spanish interpreters, with one of the toughest tests in the business.

The same test is not available for other languages, because the level of need does not justify the expense of developing and administering the test. And yet, this need is still present and I am seeing the benefits of reaching out to district federal courts, at least to help them find the French interpreter they may not realize is living down the block, or across the state. Have a look at the links below to learn more about federal court, and see if you might like to let your local district court, Federal Public Defender’s Office or U.S. Attorney’s Office know you have the skills to help. If you happen to live somewhere super cool and know of the need for a French interpreter in federal court…feel free to share my contact info. Replacing Wisconsin assignments in February with Arizona or New Mexico would be a beautiful change of pace. And I am entirely open to Alaska or Vermont as well.

If you are attending NAJIT or IITA‘s conference this year, stop by and say “bonjour”,”Kon’nichiwa”, or…”aloha”.

Here are pertinent links to all things federal court:

Basic federal orientation:

*BENCH BOOK FOR JUDGES (Scripts for federal judges):

•Federal Standards for Court Interpreters:

•Federal purchase order terms and conditions:

How to sentence 101:

•Primer…or all you ever wanted to know about departures and variances:

Division into circuits:

Tax evasion, defined:

The Federal Civil Justice System:

Criminal justice jobs:


The Interpreter Life

I am a certified (Class A) court interpreter and an experienced medical interpreter as well. I have created curriculum to train interpreters of all levels.

Not everyone appreciates the difference between “bilingual” and “interpreter”.  Ask me, I would be happy to explain. One of my goals is to help interpreters reach a new level of professional standards. Our present and future depend on coming together and working toward a common goal: doing what needs to be done to create better conditions for our clients, reaching higher in our standards, and continually improving our skills.

Join us for articles, hints the latest vocabulary to know, and modern tools to make your work better and life easier.

Resources: Certification, Associations and Practice, Practice, Practice

For interpreters interested in certification. Sources for exam prep, learning about prerequisites, practicing interpreting; both consecutive and simultaneous, codes of ethics for medical and legal interpreters, developing listening skills and professional organizations.


The National Center for State Courts is the body responsible for materials, testing and more for the certification of court interpreters:
“The Bible” for court interpreters: summary of the entire contents of the 2012 updated version:
For information about your individual state and interpreting in court, look up your own state, sometimes with “court” in the search box. For federal court, this is the main page for the United States government:
Excellent, if pricey, resources for community interpreters, books, videos and classes:

Dictionary and language forums:

Linguee allows you to see how other “professional” translators have rendered words from one language to another in print across government documents, the net and other publications (it ranges from super useful and elucidating to not so helpful):


Pro Z: An online research engine for language professionals, with free and subscription options:


Word reference is both dictionary and forum; in different languages, with input from experts and…sometimes the clueless, but a good crowd-sourced forum.

For active listening skills:

Memory and recall:


And, an excellent way to practice your interpreting for both consecutive and simultaneous: audiobooks, available for free at your local library in various formats, at Audible for a fee and other venues.  Just think: you can rewind as many times as you wish, change the speed of narration and listen to something you find worthwhile, entertaining or educational while you train yourself to improve your skills. Add in a recording of your performance and you have a toolkit in a teeny-tiny box or on your phone to become a better interpreter.