The Language Shop (tls) Local Authority case study: Tower Hamlets Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services

The Language Shop (tls) has more than 30 years’ experience in providing language services to Local Authorities across the country. In fact, we started out as a department of London Borough of Newham and the Council remains a major stakeholder in tls today.

Local Authority interpreting services span a range of complex assignments and environments, from social services and refugee support to housing and education. One such specialist area is Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Mobrea McKenzie-Govera and Julie Smart, CAMHS Administrators at Tower Hamlets London Borough Council, commented:

“As we are a service that offers support to individuals from different backgrounds and languages, it is imperative that we communicate with each patient and the families of patients.

“Without tls this would be a very challenging and difficult task as we facilitate different groups including parents who often do not speak English but need to know the progress of their children's health and welfare.

“We appreciate the professionalism of tls’ interpreters and other staff in understanding confidentiality and being able to connect with our patients. We consider their language services a part of the vital package of support we offer to our service users.”

Language Fact File: Arabic

Spoken in: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Yemen – and more!

Number of native speakers: Approximately 456 million.

Learn some: The most common greeting you will hear is ‘as-salaam alaykum’, meaning ‘peace be upon you’. The response to this is ‘wa alaykum as-salaam’, which means ‘and peace be upon you’. These are traditionally religious greetings, exchanged between Muslims. If you prefer, you can use the generic ‘ahlan’, which just means ‘hi’.

Interesting facts:

  • Arabic is a very romantic language. As well as being known for its poetic tradition and flowery prose, there are at least 14 words to describe love – some say even more! They describe the subtly different stages of falling for someone, from the initial physical attraction, al hawa, all the way through to the feeling that you have found a soulmate, al kholla, or ‘unification’. Translators of Arabic poetry do not have an easy task on their hands!
  • While Arabic is known as one language, there are at least 30 varieties. This is because it is so widely spoken that different countries and regions have developed their own dialects. Often, Arabic speakers from different parts of the world will revert to Modern Standard Arabic, so that they can understand each other. This is based on the Egyptian dialect.
  • Learning Arabic is good for your brain! A 2010 study revealed that people reading Arabic use both sides of their brain simultaneously, unlike any other language, as far as we know. This may be down to the complexity of the language and how it is written.

The Language Shop (tls) provides interpreting and translation support in Arabic. Ask your account manager if you would like more information.

The Linguists' Story (tls): Osama Hassan, Arabic interpreter

At The Language Shop (tls), we are proud of the fact that the work we do for public sector organisations and charities has a significant impact on the lives of vulnerable people who otherwise would not be able to access vital health, education and justice services.

In our regular feature, ‘The Linguists’ Story’, we get to know tls interpreters and translators and find out how they’ve helped those in need. This month (September 2023) we meet Osama Hassan, an Arabic interpreter:

Tell us about the work you do for TLS.

I interpret between Arabic and English, which is more complicated than it sounds as there are a lot of Arabic dialects! My mother tongue is the Sudanese variety, but I can use other varieties also. Dialects can even vary within a country, so I always remind new customers about the varieties of Arabic.

What's been your favourite project at TLS?

No one project but I really enjoy working in mental health, and most of my work is in this area now. It is something that fascinates me, and I can draw on my past experiences working for a charity.

What has been your biggest challenge?

At first it was time management, but that has got much easier as I have got more experienced. I would say now it is dealing with service users’ trauma. A lot of people have come from war zones and lived through terrible things. I am from Sudan and I understand what they have gone through. Some service users can be emotional and behave in challenging ways.

If you didn’t do your current job, what would you like to do?

When I started working as an interpreter, I thought it would be a temporary job but as time has gone on, I have got comfortable with it. If I wasn’t doing this, I would like to go back to working with unemployed people, helping them into work.

Tell us something interesting about you.

I used to play football and now I love watching it – even though my team, Arsenal, was robbed of a goal at the weekend! I read a lot too - I'm really interested in science.

What are your ambitions for the next 12 months?

I just want to keep doing what I’m doing – working hard.


If you are a tls linguist and would like to be profiled, or know someone else who would, please get in touch by emailing

December 2023 language and cultural dates for your diary


3 –      Advent Sunday, Christian

8 –      Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Catholic Christian

Rohatsu (Bodhi day) Buddhist

8-15 – Hanukkah, Judaism

Hanukkah is a very special celebration in the Jewish calendar, which takes place over eight days. Children are given gifts of money, or Gelt, and some receive a gift on each of the eight days of Hanukkah. The dreidel, a kind of spinning top, is also symbolic of this festival. Every night, a candle on the nine-stemmed menorah is lit and delicious fried foods, such as latkes, are enjoyed.

16 –    Dhanu Sankranti, Hindu

21 –    Yule, Wicca and Pagan

22 –    Gita Jayanti, Hindu

24 –    Christmas Eve, Christian

25 –    Christmas Day, Christian

Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, Orthodox Christian

26 –    Feast of Saint Stephen, Christian

Zarathosht diso, Zoroastrian

28 –    Holy Innocents’ Day, Christian

31 –    Feast of the Holy Family, Catholic Christian

Watch Night, Christian


Awareness Events

1 –      World AIDS Day

This day of remembrance has taken place annually since 1988, when the world was in the grip of the AIDS epidemic. On World AIDS Day, we remember lives lost and share awareness of HIV and AIDS, to reduce stigma around sufferers. The theme this year is Rock the Ribbon; a call to everyone to wear the famous red ribbon, to show your support.

2 –      International Day for The Abolition of Slavery

3 –      International Day of Persons with Disabilities

10 –    Human Rights Day

18 –    International Migrants’ Day

As the number of displaced people globally grows, due to climate change, hunger, war and oppression, this UN-led day raises awareness of the positive contributions migrants make to their new homes, and of the importance of upholding their dignity and rights, regardless of their motivations for leaving their homes.

20 –    International Human Solidarity Day


Meet the Team: Mandy Lloyd, TLS Bookings

Every month, we introduce you to one of our team. This month, meet Mandy Lloyd, one of our bookings team.

Tell us about the role you do for TLS

My role for TLS is to answer incoming calls from professionals who need interpreters to carry out their appointments. I take all the callers’ details and have a phone around to find an interpreter for any given language. Once the interpreter is connected to the professional I will dial in the service user if required and then when I’m confident everyone is in the call I hang up and get ready for the next call.

What's been your favourite project at TLS?

My favourite project without doubt was the switching over to our new phone system - such a user friendly and easy platform to navigate.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was handling calls with our previous call system, it was very manual and not as user friendly as what we have now.

If you didn’t do your current job, what would you like to do?

If I didn’t do this job and I had my time again I would definitely go into forensic science and criminology, both of which fascinate me.

Tell us something interesting about you.

Some interesting things about me:

  • I ate cucumber sandwiches and drank iced coffee at one of the Queen’s garden parties at Buckingham Palace. Given that our wonderful Queen has just died, I see this as even more of a privilege than it was at the time.
  • I swam in the Weeki Wachee River in Florida with a family of manatee, quite by chance as we were snorkelling! A 6 week old baby manatee swam over to us for a chin scratch, just like a puppy would. This was one of those WOW moments in my life!
  • I went to Ascot Ladies Day in a 4 in hand horse drawn carriage, we stopped on the long walk in the grounds of Windsor Castle to drink champagne and take in the moment before joining guests in the Royal Enclosure.
  • I was rescued by the RNLI and brought back to shore in a lifeboat after the engine on our power boat failed. Not one of my finer moments but exciting to say the least and since that day I’m an avid supporter of the RNLI. Getting back to shore was a little embarrassing as quite a crowd had gathered to watch… thank you RNLI!

If you could meet someone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Without doubt it would be Sir David Attenborough. He has become one of the country’s national treasures for the work he has done for wildlife conservation and the planet and I would love to hear some of his stories.

What are your ambitions for the next 12 months?

In the next 12 months I would like to turn a strip of land my son has given me into an allotment. Now is the time to start digging and preparing for next year and I hope to grow enough food and flowers for the family. I’ve grown plenty in the garden this year but I’m looking forward to doing this on a much bigger scale.

If you would like to be profiled, or know someone else who would, please get in touch by emailing


Interpreter blunder surprises Arabic-speaking world

The passing of HM The Queen in September was international news; the UK’s longest reigning monarch had made a huge impact on the world stage in her almost 71 years as head of state.

However, the pressure of reporting apparently got to one of the Arabic interpreters working for Dubai’s Al Arabiya news channel. Viewers were shocked by the linguist’s blunder, rendering “it is my most sorrowful duty to announce to you the death of my beloved mother, the Queen” with an Arabic translation that literally meant “I am very happy…”.

Most in the Arabic speaking world greeted the mistake as a bit of light relief from the sombre proceedings and one that was easily understood as a mistake, even to those without English. However some, including Egyptian news provider Sada Elbalad, made much of the slip-up, calling it a “terrible mistake”.

The episode highlights the difficulties of simultaneous interpreting and the quick judgement linguists face if they make a mistake. Using appropriately skilled interpreters and investing in their development is the best way to minimise the risk of mistakes.

Read about how TLS invests in interpreters’ skills and development here.

TLS translations made even easier

Would you like a simple, user-friendly way for your patients or residents to request translated documents? TLS has introduced a QR code caption service that allows users to request a translated version of a document by scanning a QR code and filling out a quick, translated online form.

If you’d like more information on this service or would like to add a QR Code Caption to your document, please contact

Back to School with The Language Shop (tls)

As the new academic year gets underway, we wanted to remind schools of the language support services The Language Shop (tls) offers to help improve parent and pupil communications and ensure a smooth start to the new school term.

Ways tls can support your school

Language support for schools is essential: there are over 1.6million EAL students (English as an additional Language) in the UK, and many of their parents/guardians have limited spoken English. It is vital that these individuals receive quality interpreting and translation support throughout the year to ensure language is never a barrier to success and achievement.

We can assist in a range of ways, including:

  • Easy to use remote video or telephone interpreting in over 300 languages to support parents’ evenings and other meetings/events.
  • Translated templates for crucial documents including consent forms and safeguarding policies.
  • Face-to-face interpreters for key meetings such as disciplinary hearings and SEN assessments.
  • British Sign Language provision

Why choose tls for interpreting in your school?

  • All our interpreters working with children are enhanced DBS-certified and we deliver our own in-house Level 2 Safeguarding qualification.
  • Registering with us is quick and simple. The Language Shop only charges schools for the interpreting they use. Remote interpreting services are charged by the minute and there are no monthly or up-front subscription charges to pay.
  • Our interpreters are all UK-based and available for face-to-face or telephone bookings. For telephone, we offer on-demand calls where users are connected to an interpreter within 5 minutes. School customers can also select to work with the same interpreter time and time again to maintain continuity.
  • We are also one of the largest suppliers of language services in health and social care settings across London; our interpreters are highly experienced supporting children and their families in sensitive situations.

Contact us today to find out more about our language support services for schools.

September dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

9th       Anant Chaturdashi – Hindu

Anant Chaturdashi is observed by Hindus and Jains. It marks the end of a joyful ten day celebration of Lord Ganesha, and it is customary to bid the god farewell by immersing an idol in water before sunset.

14th     Triumph of the Cross – Christian

Similar to the festival of Meskel described above, the Triumph of the Cross marks the discovery of the true cross. This is a major festival in the Christian calendar and is celebrated differently by the various branches of the church.

26th     Rosh Hashanah – Judaism

The two-day celebration of Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. At this time, Jews traditionally ask for forgiveness for their sins. They also believe that God looks at everyone’s actions over the previous 12 months and decides what the next 12 will be like.

This month’s dates at a glance

5th       International Day of Charity

6th       Colour Blind Awareness Day

8th       Nativity of Virgin Mary – Christian

Nativity of the Theotokos – Orthodox Christian

International Literacy Day

9th       Anant Chaturdashi – Hindu

10th     World Suicide Prevention Day

14th     Triumph of the Cross – Christian

Exaltation of the Cross – Orthodox Christian

15th     International Day of Democracy  

18th     International Equal Pay Day

21st     Feast of Saint Matthew – Christian

International Day of Peace

World Alzheimer’s Day

23rd    Autumn Equinox, Mabon – Ostara – Wicca/Pagan

Bi Visibility Day

International Day of Sign Languages

25th     World Deaf Day

26th     Rosh Hashanah – Judaism

Navaratri begins – Hindu

UK National Inclusion Week begins

27th     Meskel – Ethiopian Orthodox Christian

28th     Fast of Gedaliah – Judaism

International Right to Know Day

29th     Michaelmas – Saint Michael and All Angels – Christian

World Heart Day.

Rare language fact file: Adamorobe Sign Language

Native to: Adamorobe village, Ghana

Number of native speakers: 35

Spoken by: Adamorobe villagers

Learn some: You can learn how to sign the days of the week with this YouTube video.

Interesting facts:

  • Adamorobe has a much higher incidence of deafness than the rest of Ghana. This stands now at roughly 2% of the population (compared to 0.4% in the continent of Africa as a whole), but in the past at a much higher percentage – some sources giving it as high as 25%. Researchers have identified a mutated gene that is responsible for this, which has been passed down through generations.
  • The village developed its own sign language, which is completely distinct from the official Ghanaian Sign Language. In order for Adamorobe’s deaf population to be fully integrated into village life, everyone, hearing or deaf, uses Adamorobe Sign Language.
  • As with all minority languages, Adamorobe Sign Language is now under threat from more dominant ones. Deaf children in the village are now sent to school at Ghana’s boarding school for the deaf, where they learn the official Ghanaian Sign Language, alongside written English.

The Language Shop provides support in any language you may need, including many of the rarer ones. Please speak to your account manager about your requirements.