​Overcoming Language Difficulties: The Need for Simultaneous Translation in Houses of Worship

Immigrants represent over 10 percent of the population in the United States, and that trend is increasing especially in the southern states. A major barrier churches need to overcome is the language barrier, and for this simultaneous translation is a must. It becomes necessary to establish common ground to communicate and understand what is being said during services and retreats. Enersound’s specifically designed equipment for houses of worship allows the congregation to hear what the preacher is saying in their own language, in real time, through the voice of a translator.

We intend to bring a solution to the thousands of churchgoers who do not speak English, yet want to seek out others who are of the same religion or creed, through language interpretation equipment (sometimes also referred to as simultaneous interpretation or simultaneous translation). Jesus Worship Center Pastor from Louisiana says: “We use them every Sunday – We’re now able to conduct two services simultaneously (in English and in Spanish). This is such a blessing.”

And this is very important, as many times people are willing to seek for services in their own language, even though if that means travelling a few miles to another city. Recent surveys found that the American religious marketplace is characterized by high competence and movement, as every major religious group is simultaneously gaining and losing adherents. Those declining in number simply are not attracting enough new members to offset the number of adherents who are leaving those particular faiths. In this context, providing simultaneous translation and interpretation could represent a valuable asset for churches and a highly-valued service for churchgoers.

And to provide this service, simultaneous translation equipment is essential, as there is still no solution on the market that will automatically translate services without a human interpreter, and most churches usually rely on volunteer interpreters from the community if they cannot afford to employ a professional one.

Most popular interpretation systems for churches consist of an FM transmitter -that can be table top or battery operated- and a microphone for the translator. Our Enersound TSB-5, TSB-10 or TSB-25 systems are designed for 5, 10 and 25 people respectively and can be expanded if needed. The congregation uses wireless receivers with headphones. If translating multiple languages, multi-channel transmitters and receivers may be used, with one transmitter per language. There is no limit to the number of receivers you can have, as long as the receivers stay within the coverage area of the transmitter (usually up to 1000 ft.) So you can start small with a basic system for your existing foreign-speaking parishioners, and upgrade the system by getting additional receivers and headphones as this population grows. You can also increase the number of languages offered by purchasing additional transmitters and microphones, one per language interpreted.

And for the hard of hearing at your church, mosque or synagogue, we have come up with assistive listening FM systems (usually consisting of a stationary transmitter, wireless receivers with headphones and in some case neck loops and ADA plaque) that enable the message to be heard and allowing greater participation. FM language interpretation and assistive listening systems can be integrated during Sunday services, religious holidays, youth group and other ministry meetings, special events, mission tours, ceremonies and many other occasions.

With Enersound language interpretation technology, interpreters can now provide real time simultaneous language interpretation in Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and any other languages needed, with one channel dedicated to assistive listening if necessary. Worship services can now be more fully integrated and accessible to all cultures and languages, helping newcomers to feel welcomed and included.

10th Feb 2015 Federico Holm

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