Measuring the Quality of Real-Time Telephone Survey Interpreters
Posted: 30 Sep 2009
Date Written: Autumn 2009
Real-time interpretation during a survey can expand the number of languages in which surveys are offered. There are questions, however, about the quality of the interpretation process given that the interview is typically not pretranslated. A detailed assessment of the quality of this approach is provided using behavior-coding of interviews conducted with respondents who otherwise would have been finalized as “language barrier nonrespondents.” Interviews were recorded and behavior-coded, quantifying for each question, (1) the accuracy of the interpretation of the question, (2) the accuracy of the interpreted response, (3) the degree of difficulty administering the question, (4) the number of times the question needed to be repeated, and (5) the number of times the interpreter and respondent engaged in dialogue that was not relayed to the interviewer. The approach produced favorable results, with less than a 4 percent error rate for interpretation of the questions and a 1.4 percent error rate in interpretation of survey responses.
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