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To be listened to and understood is not something you can always take for granted, especially when immigrants with little knowledge of German want—and need—to find their bearings here in Heidelberg. For them we have established our LanguageMediatorNetwork (SprachmittlerNetzwerk) Heidelberg. Within this network, our volunteer language mediators do exactly that: they mediate, interpret and accompany non-German speaking persons to official interviews, advice or counselling services or to appointments with the authorities.

Our volunteer language mediators — who we are

All volunteer language mediators of the Diakonisches Werk Heidelberg (the social welfare organisation of the Protestant church in Heidelberg) are volunteers with very good and broad knowledge of both German and a foreign language. We accompany people speaking and understanding little or no German in situations where understanding is key—for example, to the authorities or to an official interview. And we do more than “just translate” what is being said—we mediate and we convey the interaction of words, individuals and cultural identities—in full, impartially, unbiased and in an understandable way. Because we know that it is not just the right words that count, but also the message behind them.

Our language mediators receive special training in workshops and their work is co-ordinated and supported by our staff.

To enable and empower people with little knowledge of German to actively participate in society—that is our task as we see it. And that is why we advocate an active culture of welcome and a strong community in Heidelberg.

Our areas of work — where our language mediators will help

The volunteer workers of our LanguageMediatorNetwork will accompany you

  • to authorities and officials
  • to parents' evenings at nursery / pre-school and school
  • to migration advice service appointments
  • to parent advice service appointments
  • to social care advice service appointments
  • to any appointment or conversation where you want to be sure you understand everything

Important to know: Our language mediators are no professional interpreters. Appointments where legal or medical decision-making is involved should always be conducted via a qualified professional interpreter.