Cross-cultural mediation with refugees in emergency settings: ICT use by language service providers

Anastasia A. Atabekova, Rimma G. Gorbatenko, Tatyana V. Shoustikova, Carmen Valero-Garcés


The paper explores the current state of affairs in the language service providers’ attitude and practice regarding the digital tools potential for language and culture mediation with refugees. The issue is considered from the angle of interpreters’ awareness of and competency to use up-to-date electronic tools to support refugees’ language rights in emergency settings in general and at the border crossing points and temporary settlements, in particular. The current importance of the research rests on the global migration tendencies that map a lot of challenges for cross cultural communication with forced migrants and refugees. The paper aims to explore the language service providers’ competence and their aptitude to use of digital tools for interpreting in diverse settings, including those related to migration contexts, oral human interaction and language mediation at the border crossing points, in particular. The study integrates desk and field research, includes the analysis of relevant literature and professional sources and further moves to a pilot survey. It involves interpreters with working experience in emergency situations against global migration background. The empirical analysis aims to explore specific preferences and benefits that various tools provide for an interpreter. 111 interpreters from 7 countries were engaged in the survey. The survey strived to identify interpreters’ professional background regarding the skills interpreters’ awareness of digital tools for interpreting process support and interpreters’ attitude to the use of the relevant tools in their professional activities in the settings related to mediation activities for refugees at the stage of their crossing the host country border. The research findings reveal that neither Industry nor Academia fully responds to the society needs in terms of interpreters’ awareness of and competency to use up-to-date electronic tools to foster the quality of their professional activities in the socially significant areas, related to emergency contexts in general, and to communication with refugees at the border crossing areas. The research results lead the list of recommendations to both Academia and Language Service Providers to enhance the timeliness, scope, adequacy and quality of their activities with the view of fostering the cross cultural communication efficiency in emergency settings.


cross cultural communication, social communication in emergency, ICT-facilitated communication, language and culture mediation with refugees

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