Logo of the International Journal of Interpreter Education (™)

Volume 5(1) ~ May 2013

Creative Commons License - Attribution, Non-Commercial, No-DerivativesISSN # 2150-5772 – All views or conclusions are those of the authors of the articles and not necessarily those of the editorial staff or the publisher. 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.


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


Evidence-Based Pedagogy


Volume 5 (1) ~ May 2013

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

Intersecting Interpreting Modalities

Jemina Napier, Editor
Heriot-Watt University

 Correspondence to: CITjournaleditor@gmail.com

Download PDF (111 KB)

Welcome to the first issue of Volume 5 of the International Journal of Interpreter Education. This editorial will be short and sweet, so you can get straight on with reading the great collection of articles that we have for you in this issue.

The number of submissions to IJIE has grown considerably in 5 years. In particular, and evidenced by the contributions in this issue, we are seeing more submissions dealing with spoken language interpreter education. Interpreting processes and practices are generally acknowledged to be essentially the same across spoken and signed languages; only the working modalities are different (Kellett Bidoli, 2002; Napier, 2011; Nicodemus & Emmorey, 2012; Pöchhacker, 2004)—however, this is a noteworthy distinction that gives rise to others. Spoken language interpreters work between two linear languages, whereby one word is produced after another, and the message is built up sequentially. Signed languages, however, are visual-spatial languages that can convey meaning by creating a picture using space, location, referents and other visually descriptive elements. Signed language interpreters are therefore constantly transferring information between two alternate modalities, which requires the representation of information in very different ways.

Furthermore, signed language interpreters predominantly work in the simultaneous mode as there is no acoustic interference between a spoken language and a signed language. And unlike spoken language interpreters, signed language interpreters seldom take notes in either consecutive interpreting or simultaneous interpreting (Kellett Bidoli, 2002; Napier et al., 2010), because they need to maintain direct eye gaze with deaf signers while either receiving signed input or producing signed output.

The simultaneous approach presents an additional challenge to signed language interpreters due to using two different language modalities (Padden, 2000/2001). Padden argues that when using the consecutive technique, signed language interpreters can operate in one mode at a time, whereas when working simultaneously, the two modalities are co-occurring, putting additional strain on the interpreting process.

The growing body of work that acknowledges the intersections between interpreting modalities (Pöchhacker, 2004) means that we are starting to see an increasing number of researchers and educators collaborating across modalities—as I discussed in the Editorial for Volume 1 of IJIE (Napier, 2009). This intersection is also witnessed by my own career move to the U.K., to join the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. In the department we provide languages and translation and interpreting tuition across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Arabic, British Sign Language, Chinese, French, German, and Spanish, and a new project has been established to provide intensive training for Scots Gaelic interpreters, so that they can qualify to work in the European Parliament. Our intersections are further evidenced through the second iteration of the European Masters of Sign Language Interpreting (EUMASLI) Program, which is jointly delivered through the cooperation of three universities: Heriot-Watt University (U.K.), University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal (Germany), and Humak University of Applied Sciences (Finland). These intersections highlight the exciting changes taking place in the discipline of interpreting studies. Thus this issue of the journal compiles articles that discuss interpreter education research or issues that could easily be applied across modalities.

In the Research section of this issue, we feature three articles from authors that discuss aspects of interpreter education from different locations worldwide. Michaela Albl-Mikasa from Switzerland presents findings from a study that explored how pedagogical principles from Teaching English as a Foreign Language can be used in interpreter training, especially for training conference interpreters to deal with the nonstandardized forms of English that are used in conference settings. Ineke Crezee and Lynn Grant from New Zealand discuss a classroom-based research project in which they investigated how to teach interpreting students to develop skills to deal with idiomatic language. Jim Hlavac from Australia reports on findings from a recent survey that sought to glean interpreter practitioners’ and examiners’ views as to whether interpreters should be trained and tested in telephone and video-link interpreting.

The Commentary section features two articles. Sarah Bown from the U.K. discusses how best to encourage university graduates to be reflective interpreter practitioners; and Fatima Cornwall from the U.S.A. shares teaching activities that she uses in the classroom for students to develop their vocabulary.

Debra Russell, as editor of the Open Forum section, once again brings us an intriguing interview with a key contributor to interpreter education. In this issue she interviews Brandon Arthur, who founded StreetLeverage.com, a Web site that features cutting-edge commentaries from leading scholars and practitioners in the (predominantly North American) signed language interpreting sector. The issues that they debate cover a wide range of issues, including topics concerning how to best provide training for new interpreting students. The site is a rich resource not only for interpreter educators for their own edification, but also for interpreting students who can critique and reflect on the content of the articles.

We hope that you enjoy reading this issue, and take away further food for thought in terms of your own interpreting pedaogogical practices.


Kellett Bidoli, C. J. (2002). Spoken-language and signed-language interpretation: Are they really so different? In G. Giuliana & M. Viezzi (Eds.), Interpreting in the 21st century: Challenges and opportunities: Selected papers from the 1st Forlì Conference on Interpreting Studies, 9–11 November 2000 (pp. 171–179). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Napier, J. (2009). Editorial: The real voyage of discovery. International Journal of Interpreter Education, 1, 1–6.
Napier, J. (2011). Signed language interpreting. Solicited manuscript for chapter in K. Windle & K. Malmkjaer (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of translation studies (pp.353–372). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Napier, J., McKee, R., & Goswell, D. (2010). Sign language interpreting: Theory and practice in Australia and New Zealand. Sydney, Australia: Federation Press.
Nicodemus, B., & Emmorey, K. (2012). Direction asymmetries in spoken and signed language interpreting. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, FirstView, 1–13.
Padden, C. (2000/2001). Simultaneous interpreting across modalities. Interpreting, 5(2), 169–186.
Pöchhacker, F. (2004). Introducing interpreting studies. London, UK: Routledge.

Research Articles

Teaching Globish? The Need for an ELF Pedagogy in Interpreter Training

Teaching Globish? The Need for an ELF Pedagogy in Interpreter Training

Michaela Albl-Mikasa
ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Science


Research on the global spread of English as a lingua franca (ELF) has made headway since the 1990s. In this effort, language teaching and pedagogy have been one of the major areas of research, concentrating on how to make nonnative English learners more effective participants in ELF interactions without taking the native speaker as a benchmark. However, this research has not considered settings of mediated communication. Even in the field of interpreting studies, it is only recently that the implications of ELF on the interpreters’ activity and profession have become an object of research. Findings that the “ELF condition” adversely affects the interpreters’ task call for an ELF pedagogy in interpreter training, which helps students prepare for changing working conditions. On the basis of a 90,000-word corpus of in-depth interviews with 10 professional conference interpreters, this article details preliminary suggestions for an ELF orientation in interpreter training and aims to spark a debate on such an orientation.

Key Words: English as a lingua franca (ELF), conference interpreting, interpreter training, ELF pedagogy, raising awareness, accommodation strategies

Missing the Plot? Idiomatic Language in Interpreter Education

Missing the Plot? Idiomatic Language in Interpreter Education

Ineke Crezee
Auckland University of Technology

Lynn Grant
Auckland University of Technology


Idiomatic language has been defined in various ways; Dastjerdi and A’lipour (2010), for example, offer several definitions of such language use. In interpreter pedagogies, the role of idiomatic languagegenerally has been undervalued. Interpreting Studies should take account of idiomatic language, because most interpreters acquire one of their working languages as a second language and may therefore not be totally familiar with such language. In addition, the speakers they interpret for may intersperse their dialogue with idiomatic expressions. In this article, the authors define idiomatic language and discusses its importance to (student) interpreters. They describe a study in which interpreting students were presented with dialogues taken from a small corpus of reality television programs; students were often not aware of the meaning of commonly used idiomatic language, but audiovisual information helped them deduce the meaning in context. The study demonstrated the importance of trainee interpreters being aware of idiomatic language, because unfamiliarity with such expressions may mean “missing the plot.” The authors offer some recommendations for including idiomatic language in interpreter education.

Key Words: idiomatic language, interpreter education, natural language, corpus

Correspondence to: icrezee@aut.ac.nz

Should Interpreters Be Trained and Tested in Telephone and Video-Link Interpreting? Responses from Practitioners and Examiners

Should Interpreters Be Trained and Tested in Telephone and Video-Link Interpreting? Responses from Practitioners and Examiners

Jim Hlavac
Monash University


This article focuses on the use of telephone and video-link technology in interpreting, presenting data from current research as well as from surveys conducted with practicing interpreters and examiners. The surveys asked interpreters to report on their own experiences using such technologies and asked examiners for their impressions of the technologies’ suitability as components of training and testing for certification. Technological advances in the means of audio and audiovisual communication are now being trialled in interpreted interactions, but most research reveals that an increased use of technology accompanies rather than forms a part of interlingual transfer. Responses from two groups of interpreters—practitioners and examiners—show widespread support for telephone and video-link interpreting to form components of training and certification testing, as these two communication channels become more popular with mediators (interpreting agencies) and end-users of interpreting services. The author synthesizes and presents these responses and recommends guidelines for training and testing.

Key Words: telephone interpreting, video-link interpreting

Correspondence to: jim.hlavac@monash.edu


Autopoiesis: Scaffolding the Reflective Practitioner Toward Employability

Autopoiesis: Scaffolding the Reflective Practitioner Toward Employability

Sarah Bown
University of Wolverhampton, UK


Sign language interpreters confront a diversity of complex situations in their everyday work. To be able to consider and appropriately respond to such situations, interpreters need robust cognitive reflective frameworks to support them. Since 1993, the University of Wolverhampton’s BA (honors) Interpreting British Sign Language/English course has delivered undergraduate training to aspiring sign language interpreters. The end product has been high levels of “appropriate” graduate employability success, in part due to the strong correlation between what employers regard as essential and desirable in an employee, and the attributes demonstrated by the reflective practitioners created by the program. In this article, the author looks at a range of perspectives in relation to reflective learning, discusses its application in interpreter training, and argues that reflection is one of the essential skills required for effective practice. In order to achieve this skill, however, interpreter educators must establish robust scaffolding frameworks during training. The author provides examples of methods used to build these cognitive frameworks during placement learning modules. It is in part the building of interpreting students’ cognitive reflective framework during training that will provide them with the necessary key tools for professional practice and lifelong learning.

Key Words: scaffolding, reflective learning, reflective practice, work placement, employability, supervision, interpreter training, modelling, social directed learning, individual directed learning, lifelong learning, sign language interpreting

 Correspondence to: s.bown@wlv.ac.uk 

Vocabulary Games for the Beginner Interpreter Classroom

Vocabulary Games for the Beginner Interpreter Classroom

Fátima Maria Cornwall
Boise State University


According to the (American) National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) and many experts in the field of court and legal interpretation, every court interpreter should strive for an ample and extensive vocabulary in his or her working languages. Although some more traditional vocabulary activities such as fill-in-the-blank exercises, crosswords, and word searches may aid prospective and practicing court interpreters reach this goal, there are some new approaches to language teaching that make this daunting task more entertaining and engaging. In this article, the author shares five vocabulary development games for any beginner spoken-language court interpretation classroom.

Key Words: vocabulary development, games, language activities, active learning

Correspondence to: fcornwal@boisestate.edu

Student Work Section

Research Studies in Interpretation from Gallaudet University Doctoral Students

Research Studies in Interpretation from Gallaudet University Doctoral Students

Cynthia Roy and students
Gallaudet University


The following three studies were presented at the Conference of Interpreter Trainers Conference in October 2012. The studies were undertaken as predissertation work by students in the first cohort of the doctoral program in the Department of Interpretation at Gallaudet University. In the first study, Erica Alley addresses the population of students of American Sign Language–English interpretation in the United States who are employed in the video relay service (VRS) industry while pursuing their degree. It is proposed that VRS is changing from a specialization to an introduction to the field of interpreting and that students may find comfort in the highly structured environment of VRS, which diminishes the need for autonomous decision making. In the second study, Danielle Hunt explores how two signed language interpreters currently working in the field experience and understand what it means to be an interpreter. As phenomenological study, she strives to identify the essence of interpreting through the eyes of these interpreters. This essence is what should be passed on to future generations of interpreters through educational programs. The interpreters are profiled for a deeper understanding of how they make meaning of their work, what their work has entailed, and what outside forces have impacted their work. In the third study, Roberto Santiago examines how research into the cognitive function of co-speech gesture may have practical applications to the teaching of interpreting. The study examines the gesture rate of an interpreter compared to rates found in similar bilinguals in previously published research.

Key Words: ASL–English interpreting research, phenomenology, video relay service, co-speech gesture

Correspondence to: cynthia.roy@gallaudet.edu 

Open Forum

Book Review: Service Learning in Interpreter Education


Volume 5 (2) ~ November 2013

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

Book Review
Service Learning in Interpreter Education: Strategies for Extending Student Involvement in the Deaf Community

Eileen Forestal
Union County College

Debra Russell
University of Alberta

Download PDF (143 KB) | Back to Table of Contents

Shaw, S. (2013). Service learning in interpreter education: Strategies for extending student involvement in the Deaf community. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press. ISBN: 978-1-56368-555-2 (hardcover), ISBN: 978-1-56368-556-9 (e-book).

As a deaf person who has been an interpreter educator and coordinator of an interpreter education program for many years (Forestal), I read Service Learning in Interpreter Education as both reaffirming our program’s philosophy of students engaging in community service and redefining service learning. This book has a fresh and reviving approach, as it is student focused as well as Deaf community focused. I have observed for quite some time that many students are losing connection with the Deaf community; they do not have a meaningful depth of exposure to the infrastructure of the Deaf community or Deaf culture, let alone exposure to sign language and its discourse structure. While reading the book, I was struck by the key words: “re-centering” (p. 155), “re-enfranchising” (p. 29), “partnerships” (p, 16), “equal partners” (p. 139), collaboration, and many similar concepts emphasized throughout the book. Service learning, as portrayed in the book, is “community-based learning” (p. 4): It promotes a view students and the Deaf community learning together and working toward reciprocity, a critical aspect of the Deaf community (Holcomb, 2012), and considering each other as equal partners—rather than a view of the Deaf community as dependent, with studentsvolunteering a one-way street.

The central and crucial concept of this book is outlined in Chapter 8, “The Deaf Community Perspective: Reciprocity and Collaboration.”  Shaw addresses the widening gap between interpreter education programs and the Deaf community and offers ideas about how to make programs more inclusive for community-based learning. This chapter was like a breath of fresh air; one does not often read about a community’s perspective—and particularly not about the Deaf community—that is the target of service learning, other than participatory-action research. Mertens & McLaughlin (2004) underscored incorporating the perspectives of the community under study as vital role to qualitative research, including the views and experiences of a specific population. Shaw interviewed members of the Deaf community about their perceptions of the impact that various service learning programs had on them and on their community. The interviews reflect the participants’ excitement and the value they saw in such programs: The Deaf members and organizations observed that students were developing Deaf-centric cultural values, and they were more than willing to continue supporting these programs. Shaw also integrates the students’ perspectives, gained through interviews, into the following chapter as well. These perspectives are critical components of a transformative paradigm of service learning, in which “knowledge [and understanding] is influenced by human interests [as it] reflects the power and social relationships within society [and] that an important purpose of knowledge construction is to help people improve society” (Mertens & McLaughlin, 2004, p. 3).

In these two chapters, Shaw reinforces the key themes, mentioned earlier, that arise throughout the book, validating the worthiness of interpreter education programs’ expanding or implementing a service learning program. Shaw also informs readers that service learning is new to the Deaf community. I found this fact striking; it underscores how important it is for interpreter education programs (IEPs) to revisit the Deaf community and to, for example, hold a forum involving representatives of the IEP and members of local and state organizations to discuss the rationale, approaches, and strategies of a service-learning program.  The forum could include discussions of how the Deaf community could support the IEP’s students, with the Deaf community being on the receiving end of reciprocity. Such a forum would be also beneficial in eliciting input and ideas from the leaders and members of the Deaf community, effectively making a “re-entry” into IEPs, because, as Shaw indicates, many IEPs seem to have moved away or grown apart from the Deaf community.
As a non-deaf interpreter educator (Russell), I found similar gems in this book, beginning with the content that situates the concept of service learning within a framework of social capital and spatial theory. The discussions of power dynamics and privilege, positioning, shared space, boundaries, and social capital challenge educators to purposefully examine the roots of their service learning approaches to ensure that these concepts serve as the foundation of all decisions that follow. Shaw then stresses in the next chapter that “…service learning must complement existing curriculum rather than stand out as an afterthought” (p. 35).  There are examples of other professions that are grappling with embedding service learning into their curricula, and these are contrasted with suggested objectives for interpreter education programs.

The practical nature of Chapter 3, “Implementing Service Learning,” is a gift to any educator because it offers sample objectives, structured activities, and sequences for assignments. Shaw walks the reader through the elements required for effective pedagogy, while building a case for partnerships that are sustainable and positive for Deaf communities and programs, which is contrasted well with the material on dealing with student engagement.  Shaw draws readers’ attention to multiple intelligences, portrayed in the original work of Gardner (1983) and Kolb (1984) in order to adapt these intelligences to apply to interpreting.  She contrasts a fixed-versus-growth mind-set, and this material could be easily incorporated into pre- and postlearning survey tools, leading to program evidence upon which to assess the impact of service learning on student dispositional traits and mind-sets.

Both reviewers noted that Shaw includes assessment and evaluation of the service learning experience as key elements of the service learning program framework, providing useful arguments for convincing administrative levels and curriculum committees of the importance of service learning. In addition, Shaw describes how academic reflection, an indispensable by-product of service learning,  can be taught, so that students become interpreter practitioners, who are “reflective in action” (Schön, 1983, p. 119). Shaw explores what constitutes reflection and how students can develop reflective skills and become critical thinkers. She includes excerpts of students’ journals, providing substantive evidence to support the value of service learning to student learning. Not only has service learning made an impact on students, faculty members, IEPs that offer service learning opportunities, and Deaf community members, its benefits extend exponentially as the students become “evolved” members of the Deaf community as allies.

We appreciate how Shaw has woven Deaf community perspectives and experiences with local IEPs as a foundation for working with the students, resulting in a book that is well organized.  Shaw builds a coherent argument for service learning, providing the premises and theories of service learning, before moving on to approaches for implementation of a course to offer service learning, and strategies to imbed service learning in an IEP. She has framed the foundation of her book on current research and praxis outside of interpreter education and the Deaf community, providing a global view of service learning. Most chapters end with recommended readings; both reviewers have taken advantage of these and found them very useful.

We both highly recommend Service Learning in Interpreter Education: Strategies for Extending Student Involvement in the Deaf Community for all interpreter education programs, including online programs.This text is also an excellent source for interpreter organizations to design a community service program to connect with the Deaf community in meaningful ways.  It also can be a guide for planning for continuing education units (CEUs) for interpreter organization members to ensure that all interpreters, seasoned or novice, continue to develop their connections with the Deaf community. Because interpreter educators continually seek to bridge research and practice in linguistically and culturally sensitive ways, the production of a summary of several of the chapters within this book in American Sign Language would make a positive contribution. We look forward to seeing in what direction Sherry Shaw, a model of exceptional scholarship and critical thinking, takes our field next.
Finally, we note that this text also has valuable material for spoken language interpreter education programs, and translation studies.  Students can gain so much from being actively engaged in the linguistic communities in which they will work, regardless of whether the students will become translators, community based interpreters or conference interpreters. Shaw’s work will resonate across our shared approaches to educating interpreters and translators.


Gardner, H. (1983), Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York City, NY, USA: Basic Books, Inc.
Holcomb, T. K. (2012). Introduction to American Deaf culture. New York City, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Kolb, D.A. (1984): Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, USA: Prentice Hall.
Mertens, D. M., & McLaughlin, J.(2004). Research and evaluation methods in special education. Thousand Oaks, CA, USA: Corwin Press.
Schön, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York City, NY, USA: Basic Books, Inc.

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.