Logo for CIT 2020 Conference - Transforming Interpreter Education

Enhancing Language Proficiency in Today’s Interpreting Student: A Model of Collaboration Between a Traditional Two-year ITP and a Four-year Bachelor’s Degree Interpreting Program

by Susan Faltinson, Barbara Garrett, Michelle Stricklen, Pauline Ballentine & Kellie Stewart


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Front Range Community College, in Westminster Colorado, has been training interpreting students for 40 years within a two-year educational format. As the demand for greater interpreting proficiency has increased throughout recent years, students have struggled to develop the level of language mastery required to effectively interpret between the languages of English and ASL.

A decade ago, FRCC leaders and leadership from the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), began dialogue and planning for an articulation agreement between FRCC’s two-year program and UNC’s Bachelor’s degree program. While a collaboration wasn’t formalized at that time, their forward-thinking laid the groundwork for the recent articulation between these two Colorado interpreter training programs.

Dialogue between the two interpreter training programs was renewed at the 2018 CIT conference, with the agreement that adequate language acquisition requires more time than can often be afforded to today’s Associate’s degree student. This awareness has been exemplified in the decrease in graduation rates of current students in two-year interpreter training programs.

This presentation will describe the process that was followed by FRCC and UNC in crafting an articulation that allows students to obtain a two-year Associate of Arts degree that is rich in ASL language and cultural awareness preparation. This AA degree allows students to reach ASL 6 proficiency while completing their general education requirements. Interpreting skills will then be taught within UNC’s online and face-to-face formats, resulting in the attainment of a Bachelor’s degree in ASL-English Interpretation.

Participants will receive resources that can guide the process for other interpreter training programs desiring to enhance language acquisition by forging similar collaborations within other states.

Participants will:

  • Participants will be able to articulate an understanding of an effective process of forming a collaboration between a two year ITP and a Bachelor’s level ITP.
  • Participants will be able to clarify within the presentation potential challenges encountered in forming a collaboration between a two year ITP and a Bachelor’s level ITP
  • Participants will be able to replicate their own development of a transfer agreement between a two year ITP and a Bachelor’s level ITP, utilizing written materials provided in the workshop.

A white woman with short wavy brown hair wearing glasses and blue cardigan smiles at cameraSusan Faltinson has served as the Director of the Interpreter Preparation Program for close to a decade at Front Range Community College in Westminster, CO. A 22-year graduate of the program, Susan has taught academic and skills-based course work for over 16 years, working to improve curriculum rigor as well as increasing evaluation effectiveness. Susan has a passion for increasing students’ proficiency with both English and ASL, and strives to use innovative ways of teaching. She is a cross-discipline faculty member, also teaching in the Psychology department. She finds that teaching in both disciplines has made her more effective and creative in both classroom environments. She has served in leadership in the Colorado chapter of RID since she was new to the profession, and delights in mentoring fledgling interpreters, as the process of teaching has, in turn, enriched her own growth and development as an interpreter.

A white woman with short brown hair with glasses smiles at cameraBarbara D. Garrett, PhD, is the Director of the Department of ASL & Interpreting Studies at the University of Northern Colorado that offers an ASL Minor, BA degrees in ASL-English Interpretation and an MA in Teaching ASL and manages state and national grant-funded projects. She has been educating interpreters while leading academic departments for 20+ years. She has been certified by the RID since 1994 and has served on numerous committees and boards at the local, state and national level. She is the recipient of the 2017 Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Lifetime Achievement Award: Passionate Educator.

A white woman with short reddish hair looks up at the camera and smilesKellie L. Stewart is the current ASLEI Program Coordinator and faculty member at the University of Northern Colorado. She is a veteran interpreter educator with experience teaching in traditional and online courses at the associates, bachelor and master levels. Her doctoral studies at Northeastern University included a focus on curriculum, teaching, learning and leadership. Her research interests include decision-making, the effects of implicit bias on ethical decision-making, racial equity, and culturally relevant and responsive teaching and learning. Kellie currently resides in Loveland, CO.

Headshot of white woman with red wavy hair down below her shoulders wearing glasses and a rust-colored cardiganPauline Ballentine is an ASL Coordinator and Senior Lecturer of ASL & Interpreting Studies Department at the University of Northern Colorado and is currently part-time freelancing in Colorado. Pauline holds a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership from Regent University; she is also a certified Deaf Interpreter. Pauline developed a few curricula for interpreting and actively give assessments for the interpreters. Pauline is active with committees and organizations at local and regional levels and presented workshops to Interpreters, K-12 teachers and parents of Deaf children on various topics related to language, literacy with Deaf children and interpreting.

Greyscale headshot of white woman with long, straight blonde hair looking at camera in front of snow-covered rocksMichelle Stricklen joined the Interpreter Preparation Program as an ASL Lead at Front Range Community College in May 2011-present. She received her B.A in Deaf Studies from Gallaudet University in 2010 and received her M.S. Studies in Secondary Education with American Sign Language Instruction at McDaniel College in 2014.  Michelle did research on Sign Language Evolution and Fingerspelling common errors.

She serves as a Discipline Chair in American Sign Language for Colorado Community Colleges since 2013 to present.  In additionally, she was an evaluation rater for university for 2 years. She is a member of American Sign Language Teacher Association of Colorado and American Sign Language Teacher Association (ASLTAC)/ASLTA and Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teacher (CCFLT).