Beyond Words - Language Blog

Getting to know Thais Barboni do Prado

ALTA Qualified Portuguese Interpreter:  Breaking Boundaries in Healthcare® alumni


Tell us a little bit about the first moment you realized you were bilingual.

“I remember I heard a song, and I could understand the meaning without translating it. I used to love to listen to music and translate it to understand what I was singing, but there was this moment that I was like, “Oh, I understood it!”

I started studying English when I was 15 years old. It’s easier to learn things when you’re younger. And I always loved the language. In my first job, I had to speak English on the phone, so I came across situations where I had to use it. I think it forced me to learn. But now living here I’m learning a lot more and I’m starting to correct myself.  I used to say this, but the right way is like this.’”

Tell us one interesting thing about yourself

There’s a job I’ve been doing for years, that I did even before I moved here. I am a volunteer instructor, a faith based bible education instructor. I used to do that in São Paulo in English where there is a big community of Africans, Nigerians especially. And I’m also doing this work here but in Portuguese.

What is one thing that you love about Brazil?

“The food. The food is always great there, it doesn’t matter where you go. It’s one thing I miss.”

What made you decide to enroll in an online medical interpreter training course? 

“We moved from Brazil to Atlanta, and we’ve been here for 11 months now.

I wanted a change and I was not really sure about what career to follow, so I thought about what other abilities I have that could be a starting point for a new career. My first thought was the fact that I can speak both languages, and I found out that there is a big Brazilian community here in Atlanta. So, I researched what work I could do related to that and I found interpreting and translation. I had used these services before in my previous job so I knew a little bit about what is involved in the work of translating and interpreting.

What did you learn in the online medical interpreter training course that was new for you? Was there anything that surprised you?”

“It was for sure a surprise, because even though I knew what the job was, in my mind it was just ‘Ok I can speak both languages, I can interpret for you, no?’ But it’s not like that. The course taught me that there are techniques and Standards of Practice to follow that I was not aware of before I started studying about it. Also, I didn’t know you have to have good memory skills and take notes to interpret. I didn’t realize that I needed those skills until I started taking the course. So I realized that just because I speak both languages it doesn’t mean I can interpret.”

Have you done interpretation for family members informally in the past?

Yes I did

As you were taking the course, did you reflect back on those interpretations and think “Ok there were some things that I didn’t know that I was doing that I shouldn’t, or things that I’ll do differently in the future?”

For sure. I didn’t take the proper notes and I would miss some information and just skip it. I’d just let it go because it would go so fast!

What was the most impactful thing that you learned from the course?

“I remember that in one of the chapters, there was a lesson on note-taking. And I thought: ‘Ok. This is nice. I didn’t know there were so many techniques for note-taking.’

When it came the time to prepare for the oral test. My husband was helping me. He would read, and I would interpret. I was taking notes, but they were really bad. So bad that I tried to cancel the test because I was sure that I was not going to pass. So the next morning, which was the day of the test, I decided to listen to the audio on note taking again, because I thought ‘There’s something wrong. Why am I missing so much information? So I listened to it very carefully. The result was very interesting, I compared the notes that I took before and after I listened to the audio again and it was completely different and much better. I thought ‘Wow! It really worked!’”

What are some tips that helped you learn? What made a difference?

The same audio I mentioned before said that the first thing you have to do is to understand what the person is saying and do not rush to take notes. Understand what the person is saying so that you can put that into the language that you are interpreting. This is the most important thing. Once you understood the subject, the notes will help you to remember things you’re going to forget like numbers, dates, names.”

Anything you’d like to add?

“I really enjoyed the course. You guys are very, very good. Very professional. I wasn’t sure about medical interpreter training. I was new here. I was new to everything. I found ALTA’s online course, and it was the only one for Portuguese speakers, because most courses are only for Spanish, so I decided to give it a try and it came out as a really nice surprise.”


ALTA Language Services has more than 30 years of experience providing translation, interpretation, language testing, and training services to businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations around the globe. Our online medical interpreter training course can help bilingual individuals develop the skills needed to build successful interpretation careers. Contact us today to learn more!