Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Young Interpreter Scheme®?
The scheme provides peer support to pupils who are learning English as an Additional Language (EAL). Piloted by Hampshire Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS) over 10 years ago, this is now an award-winning initiative running across the UK.

What is a Young Interpreter?
Young Interpreters are empathetic peers who support the well-being of newly-arrived EAL learners at school. Young Interpreters receive special training to help them in their role and are overseen by a designated member of staff – the Young Interpreter Co-ordinator.

What does the Young Interpreter Co-ordinator do?

The Young Interpreter Co-ordinator is a designated member of school staff. They upskill themselves thanks to interactive guidance on our Moodle, train the pupils with resources we provide and meet the YIs regularly to make sure they are involved in activities that sustain motivation in their role (plenty of activities are available on Moodle).

Having a member of school staff drive the scheme forward not only enables successful implementation of the scheme but also helps make sure the pupils are guided into their role and used appropriately around the school (guidance around safeguarding is available on our Moodle). There is therefore one person in charge of the YI scheme in each school and each school registers for access to Moodle (this costs £70 per school unless you have access to the London Grid for Learning, in which case you can simply log into their portal).

What age group is this scheme for?
Young Interpreters can be trained from Year 1 up to Year 11. Their training is differentiated by Key Stage and consists of four sessions aimed at giving them the tools to carry out their role safely and confidently.

Should Young Interpreters speak more than one language?
The role of Young Interpreter is to be an empathetic buddy hence Co-ordinators can involve pupils who may not consider themselves fluent but who may understand another language and pupils who speak English only - in addition to multilingual learners. Together these pupils will learn how to engage with new arrivals during their training, including when there isn’t a shared language.

Why select English-only speakers to train as Young Interpreters when they cannot offer another language?
Just like learners with EAL, English-only speakers have much to bring to the Young Interpreter Scheme®in terms of empathy, kindness and friendliness. Alongside EAL pupils, they welcome new arrivals and make these pupils feel settled from the start thanks to strategies acquired through their training. Making the scheme available to both bilingual and monolingual learners is very powerful in developing empathy amongst English speakers towards some of the challenges and difficulties that pupils new to English may be facing. 

What do Young Interpreters do?
Once trained, Young Interpreters can be buddied up with new arrivals to show them around the school, demonstrate school routines, play games, spend break and lunch times together and any other school activity which requires everyday language. Young Interpreters do not replace professional interpreters or bilingual assistants and should not be expected to support with new academic content. There is guidance on how to use Young Interpreters appropriately in the YI implementation e-guide.

How should I select the pupils to take part?
Young Interpreter Co-ordinators can promote the scheme through assemblies and ask pupils to apply for the role. They can also nominate and invite pupils to take part. Material aimed at promoting the scheme at school is provided.

How many Young Interpreters should I train?
This depends on the number of new arrivals the school may welcome. The scheme can be successful in schools with large numbers of EAL learners as well as in schools where EAL learners are more isolated. However the number of Young Interpreters may need to be higher in the former than in the latter. It can be tempting to train large cohorts of Young Interpreters in the hope to cater for as many languages as possible. However this is not necessary because Young Interpreters can support learners even when there isn’t a shared language. It may help to train 10-15 pupils in the first instance and to train more the following year to add to the cohort and replace Young Interpreters who may have moved school.

What is a Young Interpreter kit?
A Young Interpreter kit contains items to help pupils in their role as well as equipment designed to value the work that they do in the school community e.g. a Young Interpreter badge, certificate, pencil, notepad, stickers, hat, etc. Young Interpreter branded items can be purchased from Hampshire EMTAS. See the website for details.

I work for a Local Authority. Can I visit my schools to train the Young Interpreters myself?

We don’t recommend that your team trains the children. We did do this years ago when the scheme was in its infancy, but we soon realised that this was not an effective strategy. For the scheme to be successful and sustainable it is really important that the schools take ownership for the scheme by training the children themselves and guiding them into their role after their training by continuing to meet with them regularly and engage in meaningful activities that will sustain their interest. Crucially, there must be someone responsible for the scheme at the school at all times to coordinate the children and make sure they are used appropriately around the school. The YIs also need their coordinator on site in case they are worried about their buddy or if they need help with a new arrival they’ve been assigned to.

So rather than visiting schools to train the children for them it is best to support the practitioners who will be in charge of the scheme in each of the schools to ensure good practice is in place. New material will support your team in doing exactly this – please talk to us about becoming a Young Interpreter Champion. In addition to this, there is material already available on the Primary/Secondary courses for school practitioners to upskill themselves. 

Can I make copies and share resources with other schools?

The Young Interpreter Scheme® and all related materials are subject to Copyright. Schools wishing to develop the Young Interpreter Scheme must buy into the scheme through Hampshire EMTAS.

Can I change the name ‘Young Interpreter’ to something else?
Adapting the scheme and changing its name is a breach of copyright.


Last modified: Friday, 5 June 2020, 2:41 PM