Meet Skiwo’s new employee Mohamad Kensas

We from Skiwo would like to introduce our new employee Mohamad Kensas from Syria, who will support the team as interpreter and quality assurance tester. In the following, you find a short interview about his flight from Syria to Norway, the challenges he encountered as a refugee and his plans for the future.

What country are you originally from? What is your background?
My name is Mohamad, I am 25 years old and from Aleppo in Syria. I studied Computer Engineering at the Information Technology Institute in Aleppo for more than two years. Due to the war in Syria I could not finish my studies. Young men were forced to attend military service which I did not want to join. I wanted to live in a safe place and therefore decided to leave my home country and fled to Turkey at the age of 23.

How long did you stay in Turkey, and how did you come to be in Norway?
I lived in Turkey for around about a year. From day one, refugees in Turkey have to work in order to finance their living. I wanted to find a job and continue studying but there was no support to learn the language properly and studying would have been very expensive. So, I decided to take a refugee boat to Greece and continue my journey from there. As I have relatives living in Norway, I bought a plane ticket to Norway after a month in Greece.

You came as a refugee to Norway. How did you find your first days and months?
When I arrived in Norway in October 2014, my personal documents and ID were checked by the police at the airport. Public authorities interviewed me in order to determine if I was allowed to stay in Norway. I was sent to a reception camp for refugees in Oslo, where I had to undergo some medical tests and received health care treatments. During that time, I was living with refugees from all over the world with different cultural backgrounds. We shared rooms and other facilities. Even though the circumstances were not so good in the camp, it could not stop me from learning Norwegian from the first day on. After various tests and interviews, I received a permission of residence in Norway, limited to three years. In the following month, I was transferred to a permanent refugee camp, 8 hours away from Oslo. The permanent camp was organised differently, for example I received a certain amount of money per day, so that I could purchase food and cook on my own. The officials also provided language courses and I continued to learn Norwegian.
After four months, I left the permanent camp, as I got a job in a mobile and computer repair shop through my cousin.

How did you feel about settling in a different country? Did you encounter a lot of bureaucracy in Norway?
I appreciate that Norway offers an introduction program of two years for refugees. During this program, public authorities develop an individual plan for every refugee, which outlines how they want to start their lives in the country. For me, the plan included language courses and my wish to continue my computer science studies. The authorities were checking my previous education and experience in order to determine if I could continue studying right away, or had to attend preparation courses. They also developed a schedule for me with different courses which I would have to complete before I can start a bachelor program in Norway. I plan to complete these courses and start a study program at a university in Oslo as well. In addition, I can attend language courses for free during this program. Sometimes, there are long processes because I have to align everything with the officials, but I value the opportunities that they offer to me.

Do you think language is the key to integrating into a foreign society?
Yes, I think, that learning the local language is one of the most important things if you want to live and work in a different country. For me, it was the best chance that I could learn Norwegian. I appreciate that the Norwegian government provides free language courses to refugees to support their integration. Thereby, they give refugees a lot more opportunities for their future in Norway. For example, it is much easier to find a job if you can speak the language. But it also simplifies everyday life and the whole integration into Norwegian society.

Do you feel integrated into Norwegian society?
Since I left my home country, I was looking for a place where I am free and safe. I appreciate that the people here are following the law and I can live in security. Also I receive support and have the opportunity to develop my skills.

What plans do you have for your future in Norway?
I want to find a permanent job in computer science or as a developer, and plan to continue my studies and get a degree in computer science or a related subject. It is also very important for me to help my family, who are staying in Turkey at the moment, and support them with money.

Do you want to return to your home country in the long run?
There is no place like home but it is very difficult to return under the current conditions. If the war in Syria would end and living there would be safe again, I would like to return to my country and help to build it up again.

How did you become aware of Skiwo?
When I arrived in Norway and during my interviews and appointments with public authorities, I became aware of the demand for interpreters. The government is in need of interpreters who support them in the refugee crisis to ease communication and official processes. During official appointments, I had an interpreter who was not trained properly for my situation. Therefore, it came to my mind to become an interpreter myself. After I had learned Norwegian, I was just googling different interpretation providers and applied as a freelancer. I was successful and immediately got a contract. I also joined Skiwo’s open marketplace and created my profile. Afterwards I was contacted by Skiwo and completed a test assignment as well as an interview where we discussed opportunities for me to work with Skiwo.

What do you plan to learn with Skiwo, and what will be your tasks?
I will work part-time at Skiwo as an interpreter but also quality assurance tester. I am full of energy and looking forward to working here. I also hope that I can build up a professional network.

Thank you for the interview Mohamad and all the best for your future!

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The difference between interpreters and translators: Don’t mix them up!

Many people use the terms interpreter and translator interchangeably. But although the two perform similar tasks, there is a vast difference in skills, training and between the professions.

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What is an interpreter?

Interpreters deal with spoken language and translate orally. They listen to a speaker in one language, understand the content and context of what is being said, then explain it for the target audience in a second language. 

Typically, they are engaged by public institutions such as hospitals, police and immigration agencies. But they are also used a lot in the private sector, for multilingual business meetings – in video or in person – by law firms, and in a range of international markets. And they are also used by individuals who need to communicate with others in a language they don’t speak.

Which skills do interpreters need?

An interpreter must possess extraordinary listening skills and be able to process and memorise the words that a speaker is saying, while simultaneously outputting the translation of the words the speaker said five to ten seconds ago. It is also important for interpreters to have social skills that enable them to read situations on the spot and keep their neutral standing at all times.

Since interpreters translate on the spot without dictionaries or other supplemental reference material, they must have thorough knowledge of the subject at hand, be intimately familiar with different cultures, and have extensive vocabulary in both languages. 

In Norway there is only one official certification for interpreters. Many interpretation agencies offer internal courses for interpreters, but these are very different from an official certification. You can read more about education for interpreters in Norway here (in Norwegian), and about TikkTalk’s openness about all interpreters’ qualification levels here.

Illustrations of a man and a woman greeting a female interpreter

What is a translator?

Translators converts written words from one language to another. They use dictionaries or other reference materials to translate original material clearly and correctly so the target audience will understand it.

A translator must understand the source language and culture of the country where the text originated, as well as the target language. Where interpreters are able to add additional explanations if something is unclear in a spoken conversation, translators only have one opportunity to get their meaning across.

Which skills do translators need?

Since the goal of a translator is to have the target audience read the translation as if it were the original text, the translator needs to write well and clearly, all while keeping facts and ideas accurate. 

Aside from all of the differences in skills, interpreters and translators both have a love of language and a passion for conveying meaning to people who would otherwise not understand the information at hand.

TikkTalk logo, slogan "let's tikktalk" and a picture of a smiling interpreter

So, many people have a misunderstanding as to what interpreters and translators are. The terms are often used synonymously without realising the difference between interpreters and translators.

Unfortunately, we don’t work with translators, but if you are an interpreter searching for new opportunities and assignments, take a look around the TikkTalk website.

With TikkTalk you can connect to businesses and individuals in need of interpretation services. Become part of our growing community of interpreters and exchange your ideas and expertise with colleagues: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1805933676347115/

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Slush 2016: TikkTalk joins Europe’s leading startups

TikkTalk is joining Europe’s leading startups at Slush 2016 in Helsinki this week. We look forward to two full days with some of the most exciting tech companies out there.

If you’re in Helsinki, let us know and we’ll see you at Slush! Nähdään siellä!

Slush 2016

Slush is one of Europe’s largest events for tech startups and investors. Last year, it gathered over 15.000 attendees from over 100 different countries – and this year is expected to be even bigger.

We’re sending our CEO, Gautam, to represent TikkTalk and spread the word about our interpretation services. We’re transforming interpretation with innovative technology, and Slush is a great place for making new contacts and getting inspiration.

Digital technology has already completely changed the way we travel, order food, and many other parts of our daily lives. And it’s exciting to see all the other sectors that are about to change – including interpretation.

Business interpretation

As a new face on the interpretation scene, TikkTalk was recently featured in Norway’s largest business newspaper, Dagens Næringsliv (DN), with a great article about our team member Mohamad.

The DN story also featured Gautam’s insights about what makes a good startups employee, including strong motivation and core values – and loads of flexibility.

For us, these are also important business values. They drive us forward and help us make TikkTalk the highest quality interpretation service, with the best interpreters at the best price.

We offer interpreters more opportunities for work. And we offer businesses the easiest solution for finding the qualities they need in interpreters.

If you need interpreters powered by the most innovative technology in the industry, sign up here today.

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How new technology is changing the interpretation industry

Man sitting on train looking at this laptop

The tools that people use for communication are changing, making the world a more connected place. Technology, however, not only disrupts the way we communicate but also entire industrial sectors. While there are many examples of this, one of the most interesting is how technology is fundamentally changing the interpretation industry.

Here are some examples of how technology is shaping the future of interpreting. 

New tools

In today’s society, interpreters use many different technologies in their work: smartphones, computers, tablets, video for online virtual meetings and much more. Websites and apps allow you to be face-to-face with customers. Known examples include Skype, Hangouts and Viber. And TikkTalk uses similar technology for connecting interpreters with their customers. All around the world, technology like this has transformed how interpreters work.

New ways of working

Not only have the devices used for interpretation sessions changed, but also the type of interpretation. Interpreters are, for instance, not always required to be on site. Depending on the demands of the customer a session via phone or video is more appropriate and cost effective. In 2015, the Norwegian government spent half of their interpretation budget on transportation, so this is clearly a big issue.

More benefits for interpreters

Technology has also made interpreters’ lives much easier. Now, they can work more efficiently with access to technology they never had before. With the introduction of these new tools, an interpreter’s life does not have to be as hectic.

TikkTalk includes a calendar in which interpreters and their clients can easily schedule interpretations sessions. That way important appointments are always synchronized, days and time slots can be blocked for holidays or other obligations, and calendar notifications via phone or email make it almost impossible to miss a meeting.

Further, interpreters can work more comfortably at home, or even work from planes and trains. The freedom that technology has created for interpreters is unparalleled.

More efficiency for customers

Yet the technologies not only help interpreters, they also greatly benefit customers. Interpretation sessions and services are now more efficient and affordable especially regarding video and phone sessions.

Police and hospitals, for instance, can benefit greatly from this. In an emergency where someone speaks a different language, communication barriers are more easily overcome because technological solutions mean that interpreters can be more available and responsive than before.

The digital advances have greatly united the interpreter and customer, making the interpretation process much easier and enjoyable. Previously, interpreting was less of a convenience and more of a hassle. Technology will continue to evolve, and interpreting will follow right behind.

TikkTalk wants to help you in all of your interpreting needs by providing superior technology as well of as a platform that quickly connects interpreters with anyone in need of interpretation services. Visit us, and let’s TikkTalk!

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Skiwo unveils new name for interpretation platform: TikkTalk

The last weeks and months have been great here at Skiwo. Over a hundred new interpreters have signed up, our in-house team is growing, and our first clients have started using the service.

As an agile tech company, we launched our platform as quickly as possible to get real-life feedback from interpreters and clients alike. We’re convinced that’s the best way of giving people exactly what they want.

Now we’ve taken all the feedback on board and unveiled a new name for our interpretation services: TikkTalk.

For those who have started using the service, nothing will change – but the new brand name will help us expand and cement our position in the market.

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Why TikkTalk?
TikkTalk represents the tech-driven and friendly problem-solver which is underway to elevate the interpretation industry into the future.

The primary version of TikkTalk will be TikkTalkPro, for certified interpreters offering top quality interpretation services to businesses and government bodies, such as court interpreters and medical interpreters.

The Norwegian interpretation market has so far struggled to provide interpreters with sufficient qualifications for many important and complex situations. A case in point is Helse Sør-Øst’s findings from 2014 that nine out of ten interpreters used in patient interactions lacked formal qualifications, despite this being demanded by law.

TikkTalkPro will help to mend this situation by offering a straight-forward and transparent way for government institutions and businesses to access certified interpreters – in person or over video link. We’re also working on other versions of TikkTalk, in addition to Pro, and will reveal more about those soon.

TikkTalk’s new brand identity and name
Before we got our sketch pads out we closely worked with NameABrand to come up with the perfect name that fitted our vision and values. To form TikkTalk’s new brand identify, we set off on an intense four-day design sprint where we came up with hundreds of ideas and sketches. Along the way, we had great help from Rod’s old colleagues at the branding agency Brandlab, who worked day and night to perfect the designs.

TikkTalk’s new identity is warm, open and friendly, while also helping us to stand out from the pack as a tech company, as opposed to a traditional interpretation agency. We see ourselves as the neutral partner; the transparent facilitator; the platform that makes your life more efficient. Driven by a genuine passion to enhance the way interpreters are being hired by both the public and private sector, we strive to create the best online interpretation platform possible.

All these characteristics are united into a simple, abstract “T” symbol that could be recognised globally. The circle represents the interpretation community, and the rectangle is our platform; together they stand for a community-driven marketplace. The wordmark is set in a custom, geometric sans-serif typeface in clear synergy with the symbol.

Throughout the rest of the identity we also wanted to play with the different elements: The typography, graphic elements, illustrations, colours and the “T” symbol all work harmoniously together, creating a distinctive graphic language.
In the next few months you will see Skiwo gradually transitioning over to the new TikkTalk brand identity, breathing new life into the interpretation industry.

Let’s TikkTalk!

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If you want more information about Skiwo and TikkTalk, please send us an email on support@tikktalk.com, call us on +47 400 55 945, or simply press the speech balloon over there in the corner ->

And if you want to sign up for TikkTalk, either to order an interpreter or to become one, please register right here: https://my.tikktalk.com/people/sign_up

Be part of the future. Let's TikkTalk