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Interpreters (PLA 57)

Here, Izzy Birch et al. examine the role of the interpreter. The interpreter in an immersion does far more than translate between different languages. Their role is to interpret not only what is being said but also the cultural dynamics that influence the interaction between host and visitor. They may advise the visitor on how to behave, and help the host understand the world from which their visitor has come.

There is no single ‘model’ of immersion, and different approaches are used for different purposes. Nevertheless, at the heart of each immersion is the contact that is established between a host family and their guest, which is (sometimes) supported by an interpreter and/or facilitator. The quality of the relationships between these various protagonists is critical to the success of an immersion. The articles in Section 2 (PLA 57) explore these roles and relationships as well as the roles of the facilitator and interpreter – sometimes the same person, sometimes two people – but both important bridges between host and guest. Sometimes the facilitator also acts as interpreter. Another approach, used by ActionAid, gives the facilitator a role that is distinct from that of the interpreters. S/he provides practical and emotional support to the visitors, working with individuals to reflect on their experiences and draw out implications.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board.

Guest editors: Izzy Birch, Raffaella Catani with Robert Chambers.

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