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Volume 4(1) ~ May 2012

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.



Volume 4 ~ May 2012

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.

Putting Interpreter Educators to the TEST: Testing, Ethics, and Technology

Jemina Napier, Editor
Macquarie University

Correspondence to: CITjournaleditor@gmail.com

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Welcome to the fourth volume of the International Journal of Interpreter Education (IJIE). I am delighted to announce that this will be the first of two volumes to be published this year. The second volume is due in November 2012; this will be a special issue that will feature papers on educating interpreters that were presented at the Critical Link: Interpreting in the Community conference in Birmingham, UK, in July 2010. Momentum is increasing for the journal, and we have already allocated papers to volumes in 2013, so please do remember that there is a rolling call for manuscripts and submit something for consideration in the Research or Commentary sections. If you are not sure where your manuscript might fit, do not hesitate to contact me as the Editor, or any member of the Editorial Board, for advice.

As with previous volume, this issue has articles concentrated on particular themes. It features a balance of manuscripts submitted by spoken and signed language interpreter educators and researchers, whose findings and discussions are applicable across the languages and modalities of our work. The three key themes of this volume are those that particularly TEST interpreter educators:

  • Testing
  • EthicS
  • Technology

Each of these three areas has been an underresearched component of our work in educating and training interpreters, but are all increasingly becoming important issues for us to consider.

Language testing research is a long established area of speciality in applied linguistics (see Brown, 2005; Hughes, 1989; McNamara, 2000), which has significance in interpreter education as much of the testing protocols have been developed in relation to testing linguistic and communicative competence.  There is now an emerging body of research that focuses on translation and interpreter testing. Various research studies have investigated the challenges in setting and rating tests for interpreters (e.g., Angelelli, 2006; Bernstein, 2000; Clifford, 2005; Stansfield & Hewitt, 2005) and translators (e.g., Goff-Kfouri, 2004; Kozaki, 2004); and recently, Angelelli and Jacobsen (2009) produced an edited volume that focuses specifically on issues in translation and interpreting testing. Yet discussion of testing in signed language interpreting is scarce (see Russell & Malcolm, 2009; Leeson, 2011). This scarcity is somewhat surprising considering that this is an area that we as interpreter educators constantly grapple with when considering program entry and exit testing (as discussed by Bontempo & Napier, 2009). What assessment is needed to ascertain if someone has the aptitude to be an interpreter? How do we decide if someone has the competence to qualify from an interpreter education program and go out into the real world as a practitioner? How do we verify whether a practitioner deserves certification or accreditation in his or her country of practice?

For this reason it is heartening to see two contributions in this volume that discuss testing with interpreters, from two different perspectives. Lisa Diamond, Maria Moreno, Christy Soto, and Regina Otero-Sabogal explore factors for bilingual staff who work in a healthcare setting and are tested on their language competence to be able to function as interpreters, with a focus on Spanish-English interpreters in the United States. Jim Hlavac, Marc Orlando, and Shani Tobias discuss intake tests for a short interpreter-training course for students using a variety of different spoken languages in Australia. Each of these articles identifies the complexities for designing, administering, and validating the results of interpreting tests in their different contexts.

Another emerging area of research and discussion in interpreting studies focuses on the ethical decision making of interpreters; some might even argue that it is “trendy” to discuss ethics (Mikkelson, 2000). The notion of ethics is neatly summed up by the ethicist Peter Singer:

Ethics is about how we ought to live. What makes an action the right rather than the wrong thing to do? What should our goals be? These questions are so fundamental they lead us on to further questions. What is ethics anyway? Where does it come from? Can we really hope to final a rational way of deciding how we ought to live? If we can, what would it be like, and how are we going to know when we have found it? (Singer, 1994, p. 1)

In the last decade, practitioners and researchers in spoken and signed language interpreting have become much more engaged in exploring questions such as those posited by Singer in relation to interpreting. There is greater discussion in the literature about what we mean by ethics in interpreting, and about the impact of our decision making on the outcome of the interpreter-mediated communicative event as well as on the participants who rely on the interpretation (e.g., Cokely, 2000; Hoza, 2003; Janzen & Korpinski, 2005; Katan  & Straniero-Sergio, 2001; Lipkin, 2008; Rodriguez & Guerrero, 2002; Rudvin 2007; Tate & Turner, 2001).

A popular approach to ethical and professional decision making in signed language interpreter education has been proposed by Dean and Pollard (2001), who adapted Karasek’s (1979) demandcontrol theory to examine the complex occupation of signed language interpreting. Demandcontroltheory is a job analysis method useful in studies of occupational stress and reduction of stress-related illness, injury, and burnout. Dean and Pollard have described sources of demand in the interpreting profession, including environmental, interpersonal, paralinguistic, and intrapersonal demands. They suggest that interpreters can use “decision latitude” and implement various controls to deal with the demands placed upon them. An updated description of their theoretical application and an argument for ethical decision making as applied to interpreters of all languages can be found in a more recent publication in the journal The Interpreter & Translator Trainer (Dean & Pollard, 2011). The demand-control schema has been promoted and widely adopted among signed language interpreter educators (particularly in the United States) as a framework for the analysis of interpreting assignments, role, and ethics (e.g., Dean & Pollard, 2006; Forestal & Williams, 2008; Witter-Merithew, 2008). As much as more published discussions of ethics in interpreting emerge, and the teaching of ethics and ethical decision making to interpreting students proliferates, there is still a dearth of research that investigates how interpreters behave ethically, and on their perceptions of ethical practice. Thus Liz Mendoza’s article in this volume is timely, as it provides an overview of an empirical study of processes of ethical decision making by novice and expert American Sign Language interpreters, and it gives us food for thought in how to use this knowledge base in teaching interpreting students. Although her paper is not strictly about ethics alone, Ali Hetherington’s article in this volume discusses research on supervision and the signed language interpreting profession in the UK, which has a direct impact on ethical practice for interpreters.

The Commentary section features three articles that all focus on technological aspects of interpreter education. The advent of video and digital technology has made a significant difference to what we are able to do inside and outside the classroom as interpreter educators, and the articles provide an overview of how each of the authors uses technology in their classrooms to enhance the student learning experience. Della Goswell in her article and Judith Collins, Granville Tate, and Paul Hann in theirs describe how they use the annotation software ELAN to teach students how to gloss and analyze their interpretations. Tom Cox shares how he provides feedback to students using YouTube functions to annotate video clips. In the student section, an article from a graduate student at Gallaudet University, Erica Alley, provides another discussion of technology in her review of the literature on video remote interpreting and exploration of the implications for educating video remote interpreters. Finally, in the open forum section, CIT’s resident technical expert Doug Bowen-Bailey and Dr. Sherry Shaw from the University of North Florida have a conversation about online learning, which concludes the technology theme.

The next convention of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers is taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina (see p. X of this journal), and I encourage readers who are spoken and signed language interpreter educators to attend. The program is always full of robust discussions of research-based and reflective teaching practices. The first volume of IJIE in 2013 will be dedicated to papers presented at this conference, so if you are not able to attend in person, you will at least be able to read about some of the interesting work taking place in our field.

To end with a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” This journal seeks to provide more to interpreter educators and researchers in terms of evidence-based knowledge, so we can progress our thinking in theoretical and practical terms about interpreter education. This volume advances our understanding of testing, ethics, and technology in interpreter education, and thus provides us with a little more evidence for some of the core principles of interpreter education. Happy reading.


Angelelli, C. (2006). Assessing medical interpreters: The Language & Interpreting Testing Project. The Translator, 13(1), 63–82.

Angelelli, C., & Jacobson, H. (2009). (Eds.). Testing and assessment in translation and interpreting. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Bernstein, J. (2000). Design and development parameters for a rapid automatic screening test for prospective simultaneous interpreters. Interpreting, 5(2), 221–238.

Bontempo, K., & Napier, J. (2009). Getting it right from the start: Program admission testing of signed language interpreters. In C. Angelelli & H. Jacobson (Eds.), Testing and assessment in translation and interpreting (pp. 247–295). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Brown, J. D. (2005). Testing in language programs. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Clifford, A. (2005). Putting the exam to the test: Psychometric validation and interpreter certification. Interpreting, 7(1), 97–131.

Cokely, D. (2000). Exploring ethics: A case for revising the code of ethics. Journal of Interpretation, 25–60.

Dean, R., & Pollard, R. Q. (2001). The application of demand-control theory to sign language interpreting: Implications for stress and interpreter training. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 6(1), 1–14.

Dean, R., & Pollard, R. (2006). From best practice to best practice process: Shifting ethical thinking and teaching. In E. Maroney (Ed.), A new chapter in interpreter education: Accreditation, research, & technology: Proceedings of the 16thConvention of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (pp. 119–131).  Conference of Interpreter Trainers.

Dean, R., & Pollard, R. (2011). Context-based ethical reasoning in interpreting: A demand control schema perspective. The Interpreter and Translator Trainer 5(1), 155–182

Forestal, E., & Williams, C. (2008). Teaching and learning using the demand control schema. In R. Pollard & R. Dean (Eds.), Applications of demand control schema in interpreter education (pp. 23–30). Rochester, NY: Deaf Wellness Center, University of Rochester School of Medicine.

Goff-Kfouri, C. A. (2004). Testing and evaluation in the translation classroom. Translation Journal, 8(3).

Hoza, J. (2003). Toward an interpreter sensibility: Three levels of ethical analysis and a comprehensive model of ethical decision-making for interpreters. Journal of Interpretation, 1–48.

Hughes, A. (1989). Testing for language teachers. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Janzen, T., & Korpiniski, D. (2005). Ethics and professionalism in interpreting. In T. Janzen (Ed.), Topics in signed language interpreting (pp. 165–202). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins

Katan, D., & Straniero-Sergio, F. (2001). Look who’s talking: The ethics of entertainment and talkshow interpreting. The Translator, 7(2), 213–237.

Kozaki, Y. (2004). Using GENOVA and FACETS to set multiple standards on performance assessment for certification in medical translation from Japanese into English. Language Testing, 21(1), 1–27.

Leeson, L. (2011). “Mark my words”: The linguistic, social, and political significance of the assessment of sign language interpreters. In B. Nicodemus & L. Swabey (Eds.), Advances in interpreting research: Inquiry in action (pp. 153-175). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Lipkin, S. (2008). Norms, ethics and roles among military court interpreters: The unique case of the Yehuda Court. Interpreting, 10(1), 84–98.

McNamara, T. (2000). Language testing. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Mikkelson, H. (2000). Interpreter ethics: A review of the traditional and electronic literature. Interpreting, 5(1), 49–56.

Rodriguez, E., & Guerrero, A. R. (2002). An international perspective: What are ethics for sign language interpreters? A comparative study among different codes of ethics. Journal of Interpretation, 49–62.

Rudvin, M. (2007). Professionalism and ethics in community interpreting: The impact of individualist versus collective group identity. Interpreting, 9(1), 47–69.

Russell, D., & Malcolm, K. (2009). Assessing ASL–English interpreters: The Canadian model of national certification. In C. Angelelli & H. Jacobson (Eds.), Testing and assessment in translation and interpreting (pp. 331–376). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Singer, P. (1994). Ethics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Stansfield, C., & Hewitt, W. (2005). Examining the predictive validity of a screening test for court interpreters. Language Testing, 22(4), 438–462.

Tate, G., & Turner, G. (2001). The code and the culture: Sign language interpreting – in search of the new breed’s ethics. In F. J. Harrington & G. H. Turner (Eds.), Interpreting interpreting: Studies and reflections on sign language interpreting (pp. 53–66). Gloucestershire, UK: Douglas McLean.

Witter-Merithew, A. (2008). Infusing Demand Control schema into an interpreter education program curriculum. In R. Pollard & R. Dean (Eds.), Applications of demand control schema in interpreter education (pp. 15–22). Rochester, NY: Deaf Wellness Center, University of Rochester School of Medicine.

Research Articles

Bilingual Dual-Role Staff Interpreters in the Health Care Setting: Factors Associated With Passing a Language Competency Test

Lisa C. Diamond
Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service

Maria Moreno and Christy Soto
Sutter Health Institute for Research and Education

Regina Otero-Sabogal
University of California, San Francisco


Although using trained interpreters can improve care for patients with limited English proficiency, using untrained interpreters may impair it. Without a valid language skills test for interpreters, it is difficult for health care organizations to identify bilingual staff who can serve in a dual role as interpreters. We hypothesized that individuals born outside the U.S. with a higher education level and prior interpreting training and reporting high confidence in interpreting abilities would be more likely to pass a test to function as a dual-role interpreter. We surveyed and tested 387 dual-role interpreters in a large, integrated health care organization. There was a positive association between the above factors and passing the test. Studies like these may help health care organizations to better screen dual-role interpreters. Until standards for interpreters are developed, anyone asked to function as an interpreter in a health care setting, including dual-role interpreters, should undergo testing.

Keywords: interpreter; foreign born; survey; testing, assessment and evaluation; training

 Correspondence to: diamondl@mskcc.org

Volume 4 ~ May 2012

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.

Intake Tests for a Short Interpreter-Training Course:
Design, Implementation, Feedback

Jim Hlavac, Marc Orlando, & Shani Tobias
Monash University


This article discusses features of an intake test for potential trainees for short, locally focused training in rural areas of Victoria, Australia. First, the design and choice of test components are discussed, with reference to the testing tools commonly employed in community interpreting training and in light of the fact that testers could not directly test proficiency skills in the language/s other than English (LOTE). The intake test itself elicited information such as level of motivation, knowledge of skills required of interpreters, and educational and occupational experience. Information elicited through the test provided a basis for diagnosis of testees’ linguistic level, motivation, and general aptitude for acceptance into a training program and was the basis of a needs analysis upon which subsequent training was based. At the end of the training, both trainers and trainees were asked to provide feedback on the intake test’s content. Trainers and trainees both saw the usefulness of these test components: English language level, anecdotal or general knowledge about interpreting, listening and note-taking skills, and communicative pragmatics. Both trainers and trainees identified education level as an important indicator of trainee suitability to training and to a trainee’s capacity to engage successfully, more so than employment history. Components such as reading comprehension and written or sight translation were not rated as useful.

Keywords: interpreter testing, interpreter training, community interpreting, intake testing

 Correspondence to: jim.hlavac@monash.edu

Supervision and the Interpreting Profession: Support and Accountability Through Reflective Practice

Ali Hetherington
Manchester University


In this article, the author argues for the development of consultative supervision within the interpreting profession to reduce work-related stress, provide interpreters with opportunities for regular examination of their practice, and to protect those to whom interpreters provide a service. Supervision is a recognized means of accountability and support for many professions, yet it is largely absent from the training and continuing professional development of interpreters. Furthermore, the absence of literature into occupational stress for interpreters implies that such stress is unrecognized or considered unproblematic by the profession. The author draws on findings from a recent qualitative research study into occupational stress among signed language interpreters in the northwest of England to make an argument for the benefits of consultative supervision for the interpreting profession.

Keywords: supervision, reflective practice, occupational stress, emotional and psychological impact, signed language interpreter, interpretative phenomenological analysis, ethical practice

 Correspondence to: ali_hetherington@tiscali.co.uk

Thinking Through Ethics: The Processes of Ethical Decision Making by Novice and Expert American Sign Language Interpreters

Elizabeth Mendoza
Palomar College


In the course of their work, interpreters face ethical dilemmas that require prioritizing competing moral beliefs and views on professional practice. Although several decision-making models exist, little research has been done on how interpreters learn to identify and make ethical decisions. Through surveys and interviews on ethical decision making, the author investigated how expert and novice American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters discuss their ethical decision-making processes and prioritize prima facie duties, or meta-ethical principles (Ross, 1930/2002). The survey participants included 225 novice interpreters with 3 or fewer years of experience as nationally certified interpreters and 168 expert interpreters with 10 or more years’ experience. Three novice and three expert interpreters were chosen to participate in the face-to-face interviews. The findings show that both novices and experts similarly prioritize the prima facie duties of “fidelity,” “do good,” and “reparation,” although there was variability between the groups. To explain their responses, novice interpreters cited their professional ethical code and rubric decision-making guidelines, and they used low-context discourse to analyze individual-focused responses. Expert interpreters, conversely, drew upon tacit knowledge built upon a foundation of the Code of Professional Conduct and used high-context discourse to develop a collective-focused response.

Keywords: ethical decision making, ethics, sign language, interpreters, novice, expert

Correspondence to: mendozaliz@cox.net


Do You See What I See? Using ELAN for Self-Analysis and Reflection

Della Goswell
Macquarie University


This commentary discusses the application of video annotation software (ELAN) in the Auslan–English interpreter-training program at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. It gives an overview of the program’s context and highlights experienced-based learning as one of the key pedagogical approaches being used to foster student self-analysis and reflection. In order for students to analyze their own interpreting performances, they must first be recorded, so the article touches on the rationale and some techniques for the video capture that provides the data for subsequent ELAN analysis. Examples of activities based on the use of ELAN software are then discussed.

Keywords: ELAN, reflective learning, experience-based learning, video, signed language interpreters, self-assessment

 Correspondence to: della.goswell@mq.edu.au

A Translation Studies Approach to Glossing Using ELAN

Judith Collins
School of Modern Languages & Cultures, Durham University

Granville Tate & Paul Hann
Professional Interpreters – members of Institute of Translation and Interpreting



British Sign Language (BSL) and other signed languages do not have written forms. Students of BSL<>English translation need basic competence in glossing to aid their translations and for teachers’ ongoing assessments. Software is now widely available that enables users to easily examine and reexamine video texts as well as to input written comments about the video text.

Glossing is a form of commentary to be used in different ways to suit different purposes. Translations studies programs’ uses of glossing are for teaching and learning as part of this broad applied inter- and multidisciplinary field. As we show, translation direction can affect the way glossing is used. Glossing can be used either as a static, visible version of the source text or as a script for instruction of what and how to produce the target text.

Keywords: annotation, glossing, script, linguistics, translation direction, translation studies

Correspondence to: j.m.collins@durham.ac.uk

Broadcast Yourself: YouTube as a Tool for Interpreter Education

Tom R. Cox
San Antonio College


YouTube is a website designed for the purpose of easily sharing videos and is extremely popular with today’s generation of “digital native” students. The technology is easily accessible, free, and relatively simple to use. However, its merits as an educational tool for interpreting seem to be widely underutilized even though it is ideally suited for working with a visual language. In the fall of 2009, I began experimenting with YouTube in my American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting classes. I have slowly incorporated many of YouTube’s useful features in my curriculum, enhancing my ability to provide pre-assignment information, interpreting models, and feedback on student work. So far, the response from students has been very favorable. I hope that sharing my strategies for using YouTube in the classroom will lead to collaboration with my colleagues and further exploration of YouTube as an effective tool in interpreter education.

Keywords: interpreter education, YouTube, sign language, ASL, video instruction, technology

Correspondence to: tcox@alamo.edu

Open Forum

Moving Interpreter Education Online: A Conversation With Sherry Shaw

Doug Bowen-Bailey
Digiterp Communications

Sherry Shaw
University of North Florida


In this Open Forum conversation between Doug Bowen-Bailey, a signed language interpreter educator and resource developer, and Sherry Shaw, a signed-language-interpreter educator, Sherry shares her experience of establishing and teaching an online master’s program in interpreting at the University of North Florida. The conversation shares insights into the structure of the online program, as well as the benefits and challenges of teaching in an online environment.  These include issues of time management for both students and faculty, faculty recruitment and retention, choices in technology, and establishing a program within an institutional environment.

Keywords: online education, technology, time management, master’s degree

 Correspondence to: dbb@digiterp.com
Correspondence to: sherry.shaw@unf.edu

Student Work Section

Exploring Remote Interpreting

Erica Alley
Gallaudet University


This article examines the field of remote interpretation in both signed and spoken languages. Remote interpreting is used throughout a range of specializations including medical, mental health, education, conference, and legal environments. Video interpreting is here to stay, despite obstacles that continue to pose a challenge; many who fight this technology do so against the natural paradigm shift that the field will take. I propose that rather than resist the expansion of technology, interpreter educators instead teach interpreters how to use it effectively. In this article I identify important topics for educators to address, to help interpreters make ethically wise decisions in this setting and to improve the provision of services.

Keywords: remote interpreting, video remote interpreting, video relay service


Correspondence to: erica.alley@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.