[OSList] Tips for working with Translators during Open Space event

Andrew Rixon via OSList oslist at lists.openspacetech.org
Mon Feb 22 15:45:29 PST 2016

That's really helpful Lisa - thank you!

Warm regards,

PS: Planning for an Open Space gathering in Marysville 2017 has
begun......... 15 years after the last one....

On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 10:39 AM, Lisa Heft - <lisaheft at openingspace.net>

> Hi, Andrew -
> I find that for Open Space, there are times when a skilled translator may
> be helpful, and times when “whisper translation” amongst fellow
> participants may be helpful.
> I have used a lot of full-group capacity/visibility tricks like putting a
> colored dot on peoples’ name-tags to tell which of the several top / shared
> languages at an event each person speaks.
> Sometimes a client has money to pay for a professional simultaneous
> translator (with or without headphone technology), sometimes they do not.
> If we deconstruct the process of Open Space, there is…
> - Opening Circle - where the facilitator explains principles, process,
> perhaps a few instructions about documentation
> ...and, as everyone is quietly listening all at once, this time works well
> for either
> 1) a professional translator talking into the headsets of the mono-lingual
> participants, or
> 2) a translator walking around with the facilitator saying these things in
> Korean just after they say them in the main meeting language.
> 3) or, as people often arrive and first sit with their friends / language
> buddies, whisper translation amongst participants can also happen
> - Opening Circle is where participants write, announce and post their
> topic signs, as well
> 1) If a ‘headset’ translator is working for Opening Circle, they can speak
> the topics into the Korean participants’ headsets, and can speak in (main
> conference language) anything a Korean participant wants to announce + post
> 2) or if there is whisper / buddy translation, someone can come up to the
> center with the mono-lingual Korean speaker to announce in main conference
> language after that person first says it in their home (Korean) language
> I have also had great clients who have trained a bunch of bi-lingual
> speakers - non-professionals - participants - for a day in both concepts of
> the meeting (agriculture, for instance) so they have a glossary of
> translation terms in their heads - and in Open Space concepts. Those folks
> might have that colored dot or wear a specific-to-that-color piece of
> fabric to indicate they are traveling amongst the meeting participants with
> this language capability, even though they too are participants. These
> now-trained translators can add that skill to their resumes / cv’s so it
> brings up the visibility of (for example) community participants as being
> diversely skilled.
> When a client has hired a professional translator, after Opening Circle,
> they might walk around to the different small groups, but if this
> colored-dot-on-your-nametag method is used, they are usually waved away by
> the participants, who have their own capacity by this point. They can look
> across their own little group and ask a co-participant to translate for
> them as needed.
> In Closing Circle, once again there is silence, where the translation
> process for Opening Circle can be used again.
> For documentation design, if a client has capacity / resources, they can
> translate the Book of Proceedings - often written in the main language of
> the conference - into the one next-most-spoken language of the conference
> (example: Korean).
> And all written materials (Notes-Taker forms, small group participant
> sign-in sheets, principles posted around the room) can be translated /
> written in the top two or three most spoken languages of the conference /
> meeting.
>  Of course, the way to know this capacity and language capability is by
> having participants pre-register to identify whether they are bi-lingual,
> mono-lingual (in which case someone is often helping them fill out the
> registration information) or has other resources or capacities.
> I’ve done this with groups of hundreds of participants where there are
> many languages spoken - we have identified the top four-most-spoken
> languages and resourced translation or made color codes because this was as
> many as the client could afford to support - and everyone else did just
> fine with the colored dot system.
> I look forward to hearing what our other colleagues have tried and found
> to be successful regarding working with groups with two or more languages -
> specifically when using Open Space.
> Thanks for the question,
> Lisa
> Lisa Heft
> Consultant, Facilitator, Educator
> Opening Space
> On Feb 22, 2016, at 1:18 PM, Andrew Rixon via OSList <
> oslist at lists.openspacetech.org> wrote:
> > Hi All,
> >
> > I'm helping a client prepare for an Open Space event - 400 people, and
> within the audience there will be a group of 10-20 koreans who will require
> a translator.
> >
> > I'd love to hear stories and tips on what people have found to work
> well...
> >
> > Warm regards,
> > Andrew
> >

Andrew Rixon PhD
Babel Fish Group
W: http://www.babelfishgroup.com
E: andrew at babelfishgroup.com
M: +61400 352 809
F: +61(0)3 8610 0162

*Come join Bob Dick and I on April 12th and 13th in Melbourne for:*
"Kickstarting Change that Lasts: How to flatten hierarchies, build
relationships and get work done!
An innovative program on applying Open Space Technology and Action Learning
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