On Being a Language Concierge

Woman smiling in front of Georgia Entertainment Backdrop

What is a language concierge?

I recently had the honor of interpreting German to English and  English to German for a beautiful couple’s family attending their son’s wedding in the States. It was the family’s first time in the U.S., and the couple wanted to ensure that they were fully included in everything.

How does it work?

What did it consist of? When they first reached out, I thought they were requesting a translation of the ceremony. When we discussed their wedding, though, it became apparent that what they really wanted was a bilingual facilitator. They wanted to help their family avoid feeling awkward and they wanted to spontaneously share their joy with the entire family!

What did they need?

The trickiest part was figuring out what was needed. When you encounter a situation for the first time, you most likely don’t know what you need. Ask us—we can help. As always, if we’re not able to help, we most likely know someone who can.

When do you need a language concierge?

Do you have German- or French-speaking visitors, corporate representatives, maybe friends or family attending an event with you or given by you? Are you unsure how well they understand or can be understood? What about them? Are THEY unsure of their ability to understand or be understood? Sometimes all people need is the security of knowing there is someone troubleshooting for them. Other people relax when they know they are being looked after. Just knowing their needs will be met might be all it takes to change that ‘maybe’ attending to a ‘definitely’ attending!

But they studied English for 37 years!

Yeah, I know. Everybody else got raised with 2-9 languages in infancy. As they say in French, tant pis (it does NOT sound like it looks!) There are many, many people who studied something intensely for years only to forget it. Ask me about my Math skills someday. (Better yet, ask anybody I helped with their 2nd Grade Math homework!) Someone may have an excellent command of written English, for example, but feel overwhelmed by the demands of speaking it.

Think about how difficult it can be for non-native English speakers to make themselves understood. Then there are people who master English, but have difficulties understanding different regionalisms. When you are conducting a higher level meeting, the importance of interpreting the subtext of the conversation should not be ignored.

Some of the most brilliant people struggle with verbal communication in their native language.

Do you need a language concierge for an upcoming event? Do you have a friend or coworker who needs language help? How can we help make your next event smoother than a slippery baby in a bubble bath? Tell us!