Translation and Interpretation Services

Guidelines for Translation and Interpretation

SFUSD's 6 major languages for translation and interpretation are Arabic, Chinese (traditional)/Cantonese, Filipino, Samoan, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Review Board Policy 5023 for an outline of district requirements.

Essential information from Central Office intended to reach families at more than one school site must be translated into all six languages. Communications from a school site must be translated in each language that consists of 15%+ of your student population. View a list of schools from CDE that meet the 15% threshold by language. 

  • Staff Guidelines for Translation for school staff to see and use. Please note that every effort should be made to translate written materials and provide them to parents/guardians in advance of meetings, especially for complex documents such as Individualized Education Plan assessments, which require time for parents/guardians to read and understand in order to participate fully in an IEP meeting. Translation requests for IEPs must be submitted at least two weeks in advance.
  • Staff Guidelines for Interpretation for school staff to see and use. Please note that interpretation may be either simultaneous or consecutive; if interpretation is consecutive, the meeting time should be extended to allow for consecutive interpretation, which usually requires approximately double the time.

What is the difference between translation (written) and interpretation (oral) services?

Translation is the transfer of the meaning of a text from one language to another, while interpretation facilitates the oral communication between two or more people who do not speak the same language.

Interpretation (oral) Service

The Translation & Interpretation Unit (TIU) provides virtual and in-person interpretation service. There are two types of interpretation: Simultaneous and consecutive. 

Live, simultaneous interpretation: this mode of interpretation is used at group meetings, such as ELAC, SSC, parent workshops, etc. Parents who need interpretation will call into a Google Meet phone number provided by TIU in their confirmation email. 

Consecutive interpretation: this mode of Interpretation is used at one-on-one meetings, such as IEPs, assessment, parent interview, parent/teacher meetings, etc. It means you will pause after a few sentences or a thought and let the interpreter render the message into the target language.

See Staff Guidelines for Interpretation Service

Translation (written) Service

If your communications are coming from a school site, you must translate in each language that consists of 15%+ of your student population.

If your essential information is coming from the District Office and is intended to reach families at more than one school site, then YES, the communication must be translated into all six languages.

The district's 6 major languages for translation are Arabic, Chinese, Filipino (Tagalog), Samoan, Spanish, and Vietnamese (plus English)

See Staff Guidelines for details on translation of essential information


Submit on-line translation and interpretation service requests

Use the forms under the drop down menu to submit your requests. You will receive an auto email generated by Google Form to notify you that your request has been received, after you click "submit" on the bottom of the form. Before you click "submit," make sure you complete fields with an asterisk (*). 

Due to high volume of requests and limited capacity, we kindly ask that you give us 10 business days advance notice.

If your requests are urgent (48 hours or less) or if you have any questions regarding the services, email Vicki Fung, TIU secretary, @

Requests for General Education

Requests for Special Education

Useful resources:

On-demand, Over-the-phone Interpretation Service

On-demand interpretation service

All school site staff are able to utilize LanguageLine phone interpreters to communicate with families and students. Please refer to the Language Line FAQ to learn more about how and when to use LanguageLine.

Note that LanguageLine is not recommended for Special Ed-related meetings, such IEPs and assessments, because their interpreters are not trained to do that. To request interpretation service at the actual IEP and assessment meetings, use the forms under "Requests for Special Education."

Email Lehmann Sio at for instructions on calling LanguageLine for interpretation support.

Periodic Training on Translation and Interpretation Services

If you are relied upon to provide translation and/or interpretation services at your school site or for your department, you are required to take this Periodic Training on Translation and Interpretation Services. You will be prompted to take an assessment at the end of the training.

Resources: Here are the education terms translated into Chinese and Spanish as well as the Guidelines for Quality Translation and Interpretation Services.

This page was last updated on December 8, 2023