This summer, Scouts from across the globe will descend on the Summit Bechtel Reserve for the 24th World Scout Jamboree. (Visit wsj2019.us to learn how to join this global celebration.) For nearly two weeks, the West Virginia hills will ring with the sounds of dozens of languages, and the most popular Scouts in camp may well be those with good language skills. Many of those Scouts will be sporting interpreter strips on their uniforms to simplify multilingual meetups.
What is an interpreter strip?
It’s a small patch indicating that the wearer knows a language other than English. The language he or she speaks appears on the patch in that language — “Español” for Spanish, “日本語” for Japanese, etc. — so speakers of that language can easily spot a willing interpreter.
Do you have to be fluent to wear an interpreter strip?
Not entirely. However, you must be able to carry on a five-minute conversation in the language, translate a two-minute speech or address, write a letter in the language and translate 200 written words from the language.
Who can wear an interpreter strip?
Any youth or adult who meets the requirements listed previously.
Who determines whether a person qualifies for an interpreter strip?
The unit leader is the best option, although if he or she doesn’t speak the language, it makes sense to involve a native speaker or a language teacher. A simple form to use is available at go.scoutingmagazine.org/interpreterform. Note that this form doesn’t have to be turned in to purchase an interpreter strip at the Scout shop.
For which languages are interpreter strips available?
Cantonese (No. 404), Dutch (No. 393), French (No. 391), German (No. 392), Greek (No. 405), Hebrew (No. 18039), Italian (No. 400), Japanese (No. 406), Portuguese (No. 401), Russian (No. 402), Simplified Mandarin (No. 407), Spanish (No. 395), Traditional Mandarin (No. 408), Vietnamese (No. 409), American Sign Language (No. 18025) and Morse code (No. 615120).
American Sign Language and Morse code? How do those work?
The requirements are the same as those listed previously for sign language, except that you don’t have to write a letter in the language. For Morse code, you must be able to carry on a five-minute conversation, correctly copy a two-minute message (in other words, write it down as it’s transmitted) and send a 25-word written document, all at a speed of at least five words per minute.
Where is the patch worn?
Centered just above the Boy Scouts of America strip on the uniform.
Can someone wear more than one interpreter strip?
No. You can earn more than one interpreter strip, but you can wear only one at a time. If an interpreter strip is not available in a particular language, they may be ordered through National Supply as long as at least two are ordered.