Language Justice Curriculum

Chapter 4: Creating Multilingual Spaces


Welcome – 5 minutes
Intro to Multilingual Work + Language Justice – 20 minutes
Using Interpretation Equipment – 30 minutes
Introducing the Interpretation – 25 minutes
Troubleshooting Equipment – 25 minutes
Close – 5 minutes

  • To practice setting up, using, and troubleshooting interpretation equipment
  • To give participants the opportunity to discuss and practice how to create multilingual spaces
Materials Needed
¡OJO! This session requires materials prepared ahead of time.
  • Equipment sign-out sheet (see Appendix A)
  • Flip chart
  • Time-keeping device
  • Interpretation equipment: at least two transmitters, one receiver and one set of headphones per participant
  • Optional: laptop, speakers and access to CPC’s Creating Multilingual Spaces video

WELCOME – 5 minutes

Notes for facilitators: As participants arrive, ask each person to take a receiver and sign the equipment sign-out sheet. Be sure the receivers are set to the wrong channel and remove batteries from several pieces of equipment. If you really want to make things interesting, distribute malfunctioning headphones.

Step One:

  • Facilitators welcome everyone to the practice session.
  • Facilitators review the goals of the practice session by saying the following, in your own words: “This session will focus on creating multilingual spaces, which means we will be working on technical skills, such as how to set up, use, and troubleshoot interpretation equipment. We’ll also discuss elements to consider when creating multilingual spaces.”


  • Facilitators write the following words on a piece of flip chart paper:
    • Interpretation
    • Interpreter
    • Multilingual Space
    • Language Justice
    • Social Justice/ Language Justice Interpreter
  • Facilitators review the list word-by-word and ask participants to share their thoughts or provide definitions for each word. (Be sure to involve as many participants as possible.)
  • Facilitators ask participants to name the differences between the words.
  • Facilitators share their own reasons for believing in language justice. Examples could include: allowing people to participate fully in their preferred language, “because the revolution will not be in English,” it is a tool to balance power dynamics, etc.

CPC believes that social justice/ language justice interpreters should possess the same training, skill and interpretation level as any other interpreter when on the mic. However, social justice/ language justice interpreters also have the ability to analyze power, privilege, and oppression while using their skills to support social justice movements. For more information, check out CPC’s Language Justice Interpreter Toolkit video, Creating Multilingual Spaces. (https:// oTgbQD)


Step One:

  • Facilitators ask participants to turn on receivers and put on headphones. (Use the interpretation equipment to communicate with participants for the rest of this exercise.)
  • Have one facilitator start speaking into the microphone.
    • Because the receivers are set to the wrong channel, participants will have to change the channel until they hear the facilitator’s voice in the headset.
    • If more than one transmitter is available, another facilitator should use that transmitter and start speaking into another microphone on a different channel.
    • Participants should change the channel on their receivers until they hear the second facilitator’s voice in their headset.

Step Two:

  • While speaking into the microphone, one facilitator demonstrates what happens when doing the following:
    • Rubbing the microphone with their hands, on their clothes, or a piece of paper.
    • Breathing heavily into the microphone.
    • Gossiping about the presenter or the participants when not on the microphone. (Facilitator demonstrates how to use the mute button.)
    • Accidentally turning the transmitter off – eek!
  • Other important details facilitators should include:
    • How to hand off transmitter and microphone. (And, how not to.)
    • What does a functioning equipment checkout system look like?
    • The importance of taking care of the (expensive) equipment.

Facilitators may say the following, in their own words if they choose: “Many things could go wrong with the equipment: low batteries, the wrong channel, malfunctioning headphones or mic. There may be dead space in the room or there may be interference with other audio visual components. Yes, the equipment can be very useful, but it is not perfect. That’s why we recommend testing the equipment in the space before getting started; you should also be prepared to troubleshoot problems with the equipment, as the need arises. This is also why we introduce the equipment at the beginning of an interpreting gig, explain how to use the equipment, and ask everyone in the room to commit to creating a multilingual space.”


Step One:

  • Facilitators ask for two volunteers.
  • Facilitators model an introduction of the interpretation equipment, otherwise known as “The Spiel” (see Appendix B).
    • One facilitator will make a full introduction of the equipment with no time constraints.
    • Another facilitator will follow with a shortened, one-minute version of the introduction.
      • Volunteers will interpret both versions of the introduction.
    • Facilitators ask participants:
      • What did you think about the introductions?
      • Why is it good to introduce interpretation and the equipment to the group?
      • What did you like?
      • What would you add or change?

Step Two:

  • Facilitators divide the group into pairs.
    • Each pair will have several minutes to practice introducing the interpretation equipment.
    • Facilitators may want to encourage participants to introduce equipment with social and language justice goals, such as how to honor all languages in the space, how using the equipment is an act of resistance, or naming and making visible the experiences of the African Diaspora and/ or the descendants of enslaved people.
    • Facilitators ask for several volunteers to practice their introduction in front of the group.

Facilitators may want to close by saying the following, in their own words if they choose: “It is important to introduce the equipment the right way because interpreters only get one attempt to make the best first impression. What will people be more likely to hear? What do you want to be sure to say? There are many versions of The Spiel, so always be sure to keep your audience in mind. For example, if a group has used the equipment many times, you may not want to bore them with the same introduction. Maybe ask them what tips they have for using the equipment. You can check out one version of a spiel in the Creating Multilingual Spaces video.”


  • Facilitators divide participants into two groups.
  • Facilitators give each group the same scenario.
  • Both groups will have five minutes to discuss the scenario and develop tactics for troubleshooting the situation.
  • After each scenario, the groups will present their ideas.
    • If the facilitators have additional pointers, offer them to the group.

Scenario 1

Organizers at the meeting you are interpreting at make a last-minute decision to break into small group discussions for 45 minutes. They divide participants into four small groups, but there are only two interpreters present.

  • What would you do?
  • Why?

Scenario 2

You are interpreting at a meeting and there is not enough interpretation equipment for every monolingual person in the space. There are 15 pieces of equipment, 20 monolingual English speakers, 5 monolingual Zapotec speakers, and 10 bilingual English-Zapotec speakers.

  • What would you do?
  • Why?

Scenario 3

You are at a meeting and none of the interpretation equipment is working. You’ve tried everything – batteries, transmitters, microphones – but nothing seems to help. The facilitators are getting impatient and want to start.

  • What would you do?
  • Why?

Before closing, facilitators may say the following, in their own words if they choose: “There is more than one way to troubleshoot each scenario. The important thing is to be ready for the unexpected and to communicate with other interpreters and the event organizers. As an interpreter, you are constantly making decisions. For example, while you are interpreting, decisions must be made about word choice, volume, and tone. Many times, as the interpreter and/ or language justice advocate, you will be tasked with the responsibility of choosing how to create a multilingual space. You may have to decide between what is more efficient and what could possibly marginalize or privilege a group of people. You also may not have a choice if the group organizers or facilitators are telling you what to do and how to do it. Remember, be prepared. Ask for agendas ahead of time, talk to facilitators about specialized language or vocabulary, and be ready for small group discussions. There are a lot factors to consider, but you’ve got this!”

CLOSE – 5 minutes

  • Facilitators ask participants to stand in a circle.
  • To close, facilitators ask participants to take several deep breaths.
  • Facilitators ask each participant to name one idea they are taking from the practice session.