Editorial: Research Informing and Underpinning Interpreter Education

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Editorial: Research Underpinning and Informing Interpreter Education

Ineke Crezee and George Major, Co-Editors[1]
Auckland University of Technology

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The International Journal of Interpreter Education is a dedicated platform for interpreter educators around the world. Our collective experiences as interpreters, educators and journal contributors encompass a wide range of perspectives and our readership includes educators and researchers from countries with long established interpreter education programmes, as well as from countries that have only recently started to experience an influx of visitors, migrants and refugees, and thus the demand for trained interpreters. This journal provides a forum for sharing new ideas and developments, and bringing together innovative research from both signed and spoken language interpreter education research and pedagogy.

We welcome submissions including research articles based on conference presentations and Open Forum contributions, such as conference reports, opinion pieces, and presentations of teaching case studies. We particularly encourage educators in countries where interpreter education is in the early stages of development to consider the contributions they could make to this forum.

In the recent Volume 7(2) of this journal, Jieun Lee and Moonsun Choi of Ewha Womans University in South Korea contributed their research-based recommendations for interpreter training for asylum interview settings, in response to the growing number of asylum seeker applications and the recent passage of the Refugee Act (2013) in South Korea. Japan is now making provision for an increasing number of overseas visitors who need interpreting services, especially in the healthcare setting. On 14 May 2016, the Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (Aichi Prefecture), hosted an inaugural symposium on medical interpreting organised by Professor Teruko Asano, a scholar noted for her successful advocacy for the rights of court interpreters in Japan. We briefly outline the symposium papers here because they reflect topics and themes on which we welcome future submissions to the journal.

The symposium started with a keynote by Ineke Crezee on health interpreter education in New Zealand. followed by presentations on interpreting service provision in the Aichi Prefecture, medical interpreter training in the Aichi Prefecture and further afield, as well as on the Japanese Constitution in relation to doctor-patient interactions and the role interpreters play in these. A workshop on healthcare interpreting led by well-known medical interpreter educator and physician Dr Takayuki Oshimi centered on a scenario involving an English-speaking tourist who needed medical attention for severe chest pain. The audience was divided into small groups tasked with interpreting the medical encounter, and the facilitator engaged participants in a lively discussion of both the medical condition underpinning the scenario and the (unfamiliar) informal English used by the English-speaking tourist. The workshop was a great example of active audience engagement as an effective tool for teaching a large group (well over 140 attendees), bridging the gap between research and educational practice.

In the current issue of IJIE, we present innovative examples of research informing and underpinning interpreter education. Contributions represent both signed and spoken perspectives from the United States, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand.

The issue begins with Amy Williamson’s research on the experiences of Deaf-parented interpreters in interpreter education in the U.S. She presents some of the main findings relating to induction practices and interpreter education from part of a larger study (Williamson, 2015). The impetus for Williamson’s study was anecdotal evidence that interpreter education was more aligned with the needs of second-language users of a signed language rather than with the needs of native or “heritage” signers. Williamson’s findings challenge interpreter education programmes to better align their entry requirements and pedagogical practices with the needs of both native and nonnative signers.

Eva Ng, a lecturer in interpreting at the University of Hong Kong, provides instances of interpreter intervention in the Hong Kong courtroom. Eva obtained permission from the court to observe and record interpreter-mediated courtroom proceedings for her PhD study (Aston University, Birmingham, England). Her findings demonstrate the different ways in which interpreters’ actions constituted intervention in the examination process. Some of the examples she provides may serve as cautionary tales for student legal interpreters, offering the opportunity to reflect on the code of professional conduct and the role of the court interpreter when compared to that of other participants in the courtroom. The study fills a gap in the literature, because it is rare to obtain permission to record interpreters at work in this setting, and Ng’s research provides clear benefits for (legal) interpreter education.

Laurie Swabey, Todd Agan, Christopher Moreland and Andrea Olson address another gap in the research literature by surveying designated healthcare interpreters (DHIs), a term used in the U.S. to refer to interpreters who work regularly with Deaf health professionals. The authors point out that there is an increasing need for DHIs, due to a growing number of Deaf people pursuing careers in the health sector (Zazove et al., 2016). The DHIs who responded to the authors’ survey mentioned aspects of their role that may not be currently addressed in interpreter education, such as meeting attendance, billing, and coordinating tasks. Respondents also noted handling work stress and self-care, which seems to underline the need for interpreter educators to focus on such issues, either in interpreter education or in professional development (cf. Ndongo-Keller, 2015; Crezee, Atkinson, Pask, Wong & Au, 2015). This contribution will be particularly eye-opening to readers in countries where there are not yet any (or many) Deaf health professionals.

The interview in this issue was conducted by Delys Magill, who talked with Kim de Jong, manager of an interpreting and translation service (ITS) in South Auckland, one of the most culturally diverse areas in New Zealand. The service was set up in 1991 in response to recommendations of a New Zealand government inquiry (Coney & Bunkle, 1987; Cartwright, 1988), which followed a series of medical misadventures (patient safety incidents) involving women who did not have English as their first language. ITS currently provides health interpreting service in more than 80 different languages. Essential attributes of trained healthcare interpreters mentioned by Kim de Jong include an excellent knowledge of healthcare terminology, procedures and settings.

Sabrina Schulte presents a review of the Routledge Handbook of Interpreting (2015), which includes contributions from a wide range of interpreting settings. The review focuses on the book’s coverage of sight translation, an underresearched area in the literature, and considers the relevance and ease of use of the large volume for experienced educators as well as students new to the field.

We call on those supervising postgraduate research students to encourage their students to share their work with the IJIE readership, in the form of dissertation abstracts, as well as in our Student Work section, in which graduate students who may not yet have a lot of experience writing for publication can share their work alongside more established scholars in the field.

Dissertation abstracts in this issue include two that summarize doctoral studies in progress. Xin Liu (University of New South Wales [UNSW], Australia) used a discourse analytical study of trainee interpreters’ pragmatic accuracy in a moot court exercise, and a quasi-experiment with trainee interpreters from the UNSW interpreting and translation master’s program. Sophia Ra, also from UNSW, describes her doctoral study on intercultural communication challenges in healthcare interpreting. Sophia observed 20 interpreter-mediated medical encounters in a large hospital in Sydney, Australia.

It is important that our continuing work in interpreter education is underpinned and informed by research that includes studies of the effectiveness of practices “at the coal face”. And it is important to continue to question accepted ways of thinking and accepted practices; as Albert Einstein (cited in Miller, 1955) stated, “the important thing is not to stop questioning” (1955). We encourage educators, researchers, postgraduate students and practising interpreters to contribute to interpreter education by submitting research articles, dissertation abstracts, interviews and opinion pieces for the Open Forum. By sharing such knowledge we remain abreast of significant issues; of changes in policies, procedures, and working conditions; and of approaches to learning and teaching. In doing so we are better able to align our educational programs and practices with the needs of the interpreters of tomorrow.


Cartwright, S. (1988). The report of the committee of inquiry into allegations concerning the treatment of cervical cancer at National Women’s Hospital and into other related matters. Auckland, New Zealand: Government Printing Office. Retrieved from: http://www.nsu.govt.nz/current-nsu-programmes/3233.asp

Coney, S., & Bunkle, P. (1987, June). An unfortunate experiment at National Women’s. Metro Magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.womens-health.org.nz/index.php?page=cartwright

Crezee, I. Atkinson, D. P., Pask, R., Wong, S. & Au, P. (2015, May). Teaching interpreters about selfcare. International Journal of Interpreter Education, 7(1), 74–83.

Miller, W. (1955, May 2). Death of a genius. Life Magazine.

Ndongo-Keller. N. (2015). Vicarious trauma and stress management. In H. Mikkelson, & R. Jourdenais, The Routledge handbook of interpreting, pp. 337–351. London, England: Routledge.

Williamson, A. (2015). Heritage learner to professional interpreter: Who are deaf-parented interpreters and how do they achieve professional status? Unpublished master’s thesis, Western Oregon University. Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.wou.edu/theses/22/.

Zazove, P., Case, B., Moreland, C., Plegue, M. A., Hoekstra, A., Ouellette, A., Sen, A., & Fetters, M. D. (2016). US medical schools’ compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act: Findings from a national study. Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001087

[1] Correspondence to: CITjournaleditor@gmail.com