Medical Interpreters’ Workshop (医療通訳講座)

Hi! Janeです。


Saga Prefecture has undertaken multiple projects to support multiculturalism. Today, I would like to share with you the “Medical Interpreting Volunteer Workshop” hosted by SPIRA!



The purpose of this course is to train volunteer medical interpreters who will be able to linguistically support foreign residents when they go to a hospital in Saga Prefecture. The course is a total of 10 classes and participants are divided into two classes, one for English speakers and one for Chinese speakers. (Of course, I helped out with the English class.)



Each class is two hours long. Various medical and interpreting professionals come and lecture the participants about the current state of affairs in Japanese medicine or what to be mindful of when interpreting. Besides the lectures, participants learn medical terminology and practice interpreting through activities like an “organ quiz” or role plays.


One thing that left an impression on me from the workshop was the translation of onomatopoeia. Japanese is a language full of onomatopoeia and it can be challenging to translate them into English. How would you translate the phrases below?

  • のどがひりひりする。—– my throat is sore; my throat is burning
  • むねがどきどきします。—– my heart is beating fast; my heart is pounding
  • おなかがぐるぐる言います。—– my stomach is growling


I helped out twice out of the ten classes, but man, was everyone good! Some people even hold study sessions outside of class throughout the year to maintain their skills—they seemed very responsible and reliable. I am no professional either in medicine or interpreting, so I learned a lot from the participants who were knowledgeable in medical terminology and their translations.

佐賀新聞にも載りました! We were even featured in the local paper (Saga Shimbun)!

佐賀新聞にも載りました! We were even featured in the local paper (Saga Shimbun)!

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