Volume 3 ~ November 2011

ISSN # 2150-5772 – The articles are the intellectual property of the authors and CIT. If you wish to use an article in your teaching or in another format, please credit the authors and the CIT International Journal of Interpreter Education.

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Click below for an abstract of the articles included in this volume.


Education, educating, educational…

Editorial: Education, educating, educational…

Jemina Napier, Editor
Macquarie University

Correspondence to: CITjournaleditor@gmail.com

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Welcome to the third volume of the International Journal of Interpreter Education (IJIE). I am delighted to report that due to the increasing number of manuscripts being submitted to the journal for consideration, as of 2012, we will move to two issues per year and will select articles according to themes. This volume focuses on different educational elements of interpreter education and training. When we consider interpreter education, it is important to reflect on the purpose of education, generally speaking.

Education in the largest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character, or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense, education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills, and values from one generation to another. (Wikipedia, 2011)

As interpreter educators, we transmit our accumulated knowledge, skills and values to the next generation of interpreters working between spoken and signed languages by providing systematic and scaffolded instruction through formal training programs, continuing education (professional development) workshops, and mentoring. The goal of adult and higher education is to produce graduates who are critical thinkers, independent learners, and reflective and ethical citizens who are deeply committed to lifelong learning.

In formal terms, students enroll in university [and adult education] programmes for in-depth study of a limited number of disciplines and/or to learn how to be proficient in an established profession. The widely accepted view of [adult] education, though, goes beyond acquiring the knowledge base of a discipline or profession. There is generally an expectation that a graduate will have developed as a person and acquired a range of intellectual qualities so as to be capable of performing in an intelligent way outside the confines of what has been taught in formal courses (Kember & Leung, 2005, p. 155).

Interpreter education has the same goals. We need interpreters who are critical thinkers, independent learners, and reflective and ethical practitioners, and interpreter education programs of any form need to incorporate the development of such traits and equip graduates with the skills and capabilities necessary to be lifelong reflective practitioners (Winston, 2005).

In more recent years, approaches to educating in adult and higher education have shifted to become more learner centered, promoting collaborative, cooperative, and constructive learning. Higher education teaching philosophy is now focused more on meeting students’ needs in a more general manner, especially those who are professionals undertaking vocational-related courses. A constructivist approach to learning highlights the importance of reference to the student’s own experience:

Constructivism is building on knowledge known by the student. Education is student-centred, students have to construct knowledge themselves. Explanations can use metacognition via metaphor. Semiotics, or meanings of words, are important to keep in mind. Constructivism is a theory, a tool, a lens for examining educational practices (Dougiamas, 1998, p. 4).

A constructivist perspective embodies the notion of active learning, wherein the main interest is in the process by which the learner reaches an understanding of the structure of the learning tasks. Wilson (1981) supports considering the nature of the learner’s individual experiences and how he or she interprets those experiences in the teaching and learning envrionment. Thus, to constructively encourage students to derive meaning from the learning process, an instructor must establish a good learning atmosphere with varied teaching strategies (Druger, 1996). Effective learning requires the process to be “an ongoing active learning experience” where the students are “intellectually engaged throughout the process, constantly reflecting on and assessing their understanding” (Evensky, 1996, p. 17).

Higher and adult education promote critical thinking and reflective practice, which works most effectively within an active learning framework. In evaluating higher education literature, the following points are crucial to ensuring effective pedagogy: (a) active learning, (b) student-centered learning, (c) experiential learning, and (d) interface between learning and professional skills development (i.e., workplace demands).

All of these points are also crucial in interpreter education. As stated by Sawyer (2003), “[T]he momentum driving interpreter education has gathered force” (p. 2), and curriculum and assessment theory must inform interpreter education. Likewise, research must inform interpreter education—interpreting not just research but, more important, interpreter education research (Pöchhacker, 2010). The aim of this journal is to facilitate the discussion of all elements of interpreter education in whichever form they appear—whether formal or informal, and through case studies, reflections, theoretical discussions, or research. IJIE seeks to validate what it means to be a teacher-researcher (Roulston, Legette, & Deloach, 2005) in interpreter education.

Volume 3 of IJIE explores educating spoken and signed language interpreters in different contexts, taking alternative approaches, and drawing on a variety of frameworks. All of the articles—although discussing educating either spoken or signed language interpreters, specifically in different countries—are more widely applicable and transferable across modalities, languages, and borders.

The featured research articles present the fundamentals of interpreter education that discuss how to draw on linguistics and teach reflective practice among spoken and signed language interpreters. Annette Sachtleben and Heather Denny discuss how to teach pragmatics to spoken language interpreters in New Zealand; Trudy Schafer details a project to develop expertise among American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters; and Maria Moreno and colleagues explore how they provided web-based training for Spanish-speaking, dual-role interpreters in the United States.

The commentary pieces focus on educational interpreting and professional development. There are two such articles: One describes projects addressing the performance assessment of educational interpreters in a school in Australia (Karen Bontempo and Bethel Hutchinson), and the other describes the delivery of a professional development program for educational interpreters working in schools throughout the state of Queensland, Australia (Maree Madden). Although the focus of each article is on Australia and educational interpreters, both articles highlight some of the most crucial aspects of interpreter education: standards, assessment, and, particularly, ongoing maintenance and development of professional skills. Thus, these two articles should also be relevant to people who are training, educating, and accrediting/certifying spoken and signed language interpreters in any country. Likewise, Fatima Cornwall’s commentary on creating your own materials for use in the classroom is a welcome contribution in which the author shares pedagogical approaches and the ever-challenging aspect of finding appropriate source texts that students can use to practice and develop their interpreting skills.

In our student section, we have an excellent contribution from Lisa Godfrey, who identified characteristics of effective interpreting programs in the United States. Although she surveyed ASL interpreter programs, much of the effective characteristics that she identified give educators and administrators food for thought in relation to what makes a good program. I was recently involved in leading a team to review the translation and interpreting curriculum at my institution, and we found many of the same issues that Lisa brings to light.

Finally, the open forum section features another interview with a scholar—this time, with Christopher Stone. Stone has been involved in sign language interpreter education since 1999 and also works closely with many spoken language interpreter colleagues in the United Kingdom. This interview gives us insight into what attracts us to our work as interpreters, interpreter educators, and, particularly, scholars of interpreting or interpreter education.

In keeping with tradition, I’d like to end the editorial with a quote that I feel encapsulates the theme(s) of the editorial and the volume. I recently discovered a great quote via one of my students studying in our Translation & Interpreting Pedagogy program. Although I am familiar with Don Kiraly’s work on applying social constructivist approaches to teaching translation, when the student highlighted this quote in one of her online postings, it really resonated with me so I would like to share it with you:

We become empowered as teachers not by controlling learners, but by emancipating them. When we encourage learners to think for themselves and to depend on each other, on their individual capabilities for independent learning, and on us as guides and assistants to help them learn, we are empowering them to become full-fledged members of the communities in which they live and will work: we are helping them to build character and trustworthiness; we are promoting a culture of expertise and professionalism in our future colleagues and successors. This is empowerment for all of us: teachers, students and administrators alike. (Kiraly, 2000, p. 194).



Dougiamas, M. (1998, November). A journey into constructivism [Online essay]. Retrieved from http://dougiamas.com/writing/constructivism.html

Druger, M. (1996). Practical tips for teaching at the university level. In L. Lambert, S. Lane Tice, & P. Featherstone (Eds.), University teaching: A guide for graduate students (pp. 3–8). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Evensky, J. (1996). The lecture: General thoughts on lecturing. In L. Lambert, S. Lane Tice, & P. Featherstone (Eds.), University teaching: A guide for graduate students (pp. 9–28). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Kember, D., & Leung, D. (2005). The influence of active learning experiences on the development of graduate capabilities. Studies in Higher Education, 30(2), 155–170.

Kiraly, D. (2000). A social constructivist approach to translator education: Empowerment from theory to  practice. Manchester, United Kingdom: St Jerome.

Pöchhacker, F. (2010). The role of research in interpreter education. Translation & Interpreting.org: The International Journal of Translation and Interpreting Research, 2(1), 1–10.

Roulston, K., Legette, R., & Deloach, M. (2005). What is research for teacher-researchers? Educational Action Research, 13, 169–189.

Sawyer, D. (2003). Fundamental aspects of interpreter education: Curriculum and assessment. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.

Wikipedi, the Free Encyclopedia. (2011). “Education.” Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education

Wilson, J. (1981). Student learning in higher education. London, United Kingdom: Croom Helm.

Winston, E. (2005). Designing a curriculum for American Sign Language/English interpreting educators. In M. Marschark, R. Peterson, & E. A. Winston (Eds.), Sign language interpreting and interpreter education: Directions for research and practice (pp. 208–234). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Research Articles

The Teaching of Pragmatics as Interpreter Training

The Teaching of Pragmatics as Interpreter Training

Annette Sachtleben and Heather Denny

Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
Correspondence to: asachtle@aut.ac.nz



Research undertaken in 2010 with an interpreting class at a New Zealand university showed that explicit teaching of pragmatic features of New Zealand English discourse helped develop the students’ awareness of the differences between the semantic meaning and the pragmatic purpose of an utterance.

In this research project, the authors intended to test whether explicit classroom instruction of pragmatic features and these features’ impact on meaning through the use of recorded discourse samples would be effective, considering that explicit language instruction to language learners has been researched and was found to assist success (Kasper & Roever, 2004). In the classroom, teachers used samples of spontaneous New Zealand English discourse to identify and discuss the use of pragmatic features.

In the project, the researchers also aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of classroom practice in teaching and learning pragmatics. The data for this research came from the interpreting students’ reflective blogs, 2 participant surveys, and the researcher–teacher’s weekly log.

Keywords: interpreter training; teaching pragmatic awareness; semi-authentic discourse samples

Developing Expertise Through a Deliberate Practice Project

Developing Expertise Through a Deliberate Practice Project

Trudy Schafer

Northeastern University

Correspondence to: trudy_schafer@hotmail.com



Ericsson  (2001) defines expertise as follows, “Expert performers can reliably reproduce their performance any time when required such as during competition and training” (p. 194).  Merely practicing a skill repeatedly will not result in expert performance. However, “deliberate practice” can improve performance. Deliberate practice is defined as “…tasks that are initially outside of their current realm of reliable performance, yet can be mastered within hours of practice by concentrating on critical aspects and by gradually refining performance through repetitions after feedback”  (Ericsson 2006, p. 692). Mindset effects deliberate practice. Dweck (2006) describes two types of mindset: fixed and growth. A fixed mindset perceives intelligence and ability as static despite effort. A growth mindset embraces effort as a means to improve ability.  Closing the gap between graduation and certification may be facilitated by deliberate practice. This action research project describes the introduction of deliberate practice and mindset in an interpreter education program.

Keywords: expertise; deliberate practice; mindset; action research; graduation–certification gap

Using Web-Based Training to Improve Skills Among Bilingual Dual-Role Staff Interpreters

Using Web-Based Training to Improve Skills Among Bilingual Dual-Role Staff Interpreters

Maria R. Moreno
Sutter Health Institute for Research and Education

Regina Otero-Sabogal
Institute for Health and Aging, University of California San Francisco

Christy Soto
Sutter Health Institute for Research and Education

Correspondence to: morenom@sutterhealth.org


The growing demand for medical interpretation calls for innovative training approaches. The authors used a repeated-measures design with a comparison group to assess the impact of web-based training on the knowledge and confidence of staff who were hired in an administrative or clinical support position (e.g., registered nurse) as their primary role but who also use their bilingual skills to serve a secondary role as interpreter; these individuals are referred to as dual-role staff interpreters. The authors also explored the association between (a) gender, ethnicity, first and second language spoken; and level of education and(b) the improvement in knowledge and confidence. One-hundred fifty dual-role staff interpreters at a large health care system completed a pre-test followed by a web-based training and a post-test. The comparison group included 49 dual-role staff interpreters, all of whom completed the pre- and post-tests without taking the training. Mean knowledge scores for the intervention group increased significantly. Improved knowledge scores for the comparison group were not statistically significant. Interpreters’ confidence did not improve. Significant predictors of improved knowledge scores were education and previous training. Online training could be a useful tool to enhance interpreters’ skills.

Keywords: interpreters; web-based training; health disparities; limited English proficient (LEP) patients


Creating Your Own Interpreting Materials for Use in the Classroom

Creating Your Own Interpreting Materials for Use in the Classroom

Fátima María Cornwall
Boise State University


Currently, there are a few excellent manuals and books on the market for practicing the 3 modes of interpretation. However these materials are more appropriate for advanced spoken language students of court interpretation or practicing interpreters interested in polishing their skills. The speed of the recordings (105–165 words per minute) are very challenging for inexperienced but long-term prospective court interpreters. In this article, the author focuses on how to develop activities that require students to create their own scripts and recordings—that is, their own classroon materials—for use in an Introduction to Court Interpretation course. The author also reflects on the problems that arise from having students become authors in the classroom.

Keywords: classroom materials; skill-building and practice; recordings

Correspondence to: fcornwal@boisestate.edu

Striving for an “A” Grade: A Case Study of Performance Management of Interpreters

Striving for an “A” Grade: A Case Study of Performance Management of Interpreters

Karen Bontempo[1]
Shenton College Deaf Education Centre and Macquarie University, Australia

Bethel Hutchinson
Shenton College Deaf Education Centre, Australia


Research regarding the efficacy of an interpreted education for deaf students has suggested that the practice is fraught with challenges. This could be because interpreters provide merely the illusion of access in a mainstream setting (Winston, 2004), or it may be because many education systems are simply not interpreter ready (Patrie & Taylor, 2008), among other factors. A primary concern is often the proficiency and skill level of interpreters working in education settings. In this article, the authors report on a best-practices process of diagnostic skills analysis, performance management, and a tailored series of ongoing training opportunities undertaken by a cohort of interpreters based at a secondary school for deaf students in Western Australia. The project that is described, and the performance evaluation principles and training practices adopted, may be easily embraced by other organizations employing interpreters; managers and mentors of interpreters; as well as by individual interpreters themselves.

Keywords: interpreters; education; ongoing training; best practices; diagnostic skills analysis; performance management; professional development

Correspondence to: bontempo@iinet.net.au

A Professional Development Initiative for Educational Interpreters in Queensland

A Professional Development Initiative for Educational Interpreters in Queensland

Maree Madden
Education Queensland


In June 2007, the Transition to Auslan Project—an initiative of Education Queensland (the title used to refer to the State Department of Education in Queensland, Australia)—commenced. The project consists of a range of professional development opportunities designed to assist Education Queensland staff, who are responsible for working with students who are deaf to develop and enhance their skills in the use of Australian Sign Language (Auslan). The professional development activities of the Transition to Auslan Project also aimed  to develop bilingual pedagogical practices in teaching students who are deaf and who use Auslan. In this article, the author describes one of the elements of the Transition to Auslan Project—professional development for educational interpreters. The background, planning, development, delivery, and outcomes of this professional development program are outlined and discussed.

Keywords: educational interpreting; professional development; distance educatio

Correspondence to: maree_richard@bigpond.com

Open Forum

Interview With a Scholar and a Gentleman: Christopher Stone

Interview With a Scholar and a Gentleman: Christopher Stone

Debra Russell
University of Alberta, Canada

Christopher Stone
University College London


This open forum article highlights an interview conducted with Christopher Stone, who is a research associate at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre at University College London. In this interview, he describes his introduction to the Deaf community and the road to becoming an interpreter and interpreter–researcher. He describes his doctoral research, in which he examined the work of Deaf interpreters and translators, the roots of this work, and the evolving nature of a Deaf translation norm. His findings reveal the important role that Deaf people play in the community, formally and informally, bridging linguistic and cultural differences between Deaf and non-Deaf people. His findings offer interpreters and educators opportunities to examine their own translation assumptions and to learn about the ways in which Deaf interpreters and translators perform their work in order to produce an effective translation. Finally, the article describes some of the current research projects that have emerged from Dr. Stone’s seminal work, including a study of interpreter aptitude, interpreter cognitive control, and team interpreting strategies.

Keywords: interpreters and interpreter education; translation; Deaf interpreters; ghostwriters; team interpreting; aptitude testing, British Sign Language (BSL); written English

Correspondence to: debra.russell@ualberta.ca
Correspondence to: christopher.stone@ucl.ac.uk

Student Work Section

Characteristics of Effective Interpreter Education Programs in the United States

Characteristics of Effective Interpreter Education Programs in the United States

Lisa Godfrey
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga


The goal of this study was to expand the limited research that currently exists in the field of interpreter education—specifically, as it relates to the readiness-to-credential gap, the consensus in the field that students graduate from interpreter education programs (IEPs) but are not ready to obtain the minimal interpreting credentials set forth by the field at both the state and national levels. To accomplish this goal, in this article the author identifies programs that have a low readiness-to-credential gap and analyzes the characteristics that are contributors to each program’s success, so that improvements can be made in current IEPs. In this article, the author presents some principal findings of the study; for more information, please refer to the full dissertation report (Godfrey, 2010

Keywords: interpreter education; interpreter education programs (IEPs); school-to-work gap; school-to-credential gap

Correspondence to:lgodfreyinterpreting@gmail.com

Complete Version of the Journal

The listing below has the complete articles as well as an opportunity to download a PDF version of each article or the complete journal.