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Volume 7(2) ~ November 2015

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.

Open Access

The journal articles are now all open access.


Click below for an abstract of the articles included in this volume.  Complete journal articles are listed below. The editorial is provided in its entirety.  Other articles require CIT membership or a subscription to the IJIE.


Editorial: The Voice of Interpreter Educators

George Major and Ineke Crezee, Co-Editors[1]

Auckland University of Technology

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A recent (19 October) headline in the Guardian read: “Humanities research: groundbreaking, life-changing but ignored” (Busl, 2015). In this issue, we argue for interpreter educators to have a stronger voice in society, in policy and in the media, through research dissemination and engaging in discussion and debate. This is a theme that we are probably all very aware of, and of which many of us undoubtedly strive to achieve in our everyday professional lives. At a time when Europe is facing its biggest influx of migrants and refugees to date, however, it seems very appropriate for the International Journal of Interpreter Education to revisit and highlight the need to make interpreting research findings applicable to interpreter education, professional and personal development and society at large.

Several contributors to the volume (Lee and Choi, Salaets and Balogh, and Verstraete) mention the common misconception that anyone who knows two languages can interpret, and the implications this can have for policy and (lack of) targeted interpreter education. It is precisely interpreter educators and researchers (and practitioners and consumers too) who need to educate policy makers of the need for trained interpreters. This is a particularly pertinent issue for rare languages such as refugee languages, which are often classed as languages of limited (or ‘lesser’) diffusion (LLDs; Slatyer, 2006), a term which can refer to both signed and spoken languages. LLDs are often used by small and geographically-dispersed communities, and in the case of refugee languages, may have also had the status of minority language in their original country (e.g., languages such as Hmong, Chin, Karen, and Rohingya). This status may have resulted in them not having been used in a wide range of domains (Fishman, 1999; see also Salaets & Balogh, this volume), meaning that technical terminology (e.g. health terminology) can be underdeveloped (e.g., Johnston & Napier, 2010; Major, Napier, Ferrara, & Johnston, 2012), which can pose particular challenges for interpreter education.

At our Translation and Interpreting programme at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, we have been running ‘language neutral’ programmes for spoken language interpreting students since the early 1990s, and as such we are very aware of some of the pedagogical issues involved in training much-needed interpreters of rare languages. However, such an undertaking also has a unique set of challenges, particularly around assessing practical skills and addressing the limitations of a ‘one size fits all’ approach, for example, with students from majority languages and those from LLDs working together in technical domains. We are constantly trying to improve our pedagogical practices as we build on past experience. Such is the need for interpreters in LLD in New Zealand that several government departments have decided to work with our university in offering rare-language interpreter scholarships to meet that demand.

World events such as the unfolding refugee crisis—which is inextricably tied to the need for skilled professional interpreters—certainly remind us when it is time to take stock of where we are, and where we might need to be headed. To this end, the current volume of IJIE offers a thought-provoking mix of papers from both signed- and spoken-language interpreter educators and researchers, from the USA, Australia, South Korea, and Belgium. We begin with two research articles, both of which have broad relevance to educators and practitioners working in many different areas. We then move on to commentary and open forum contributions, which continue the important focus of this journal as a forum for interpreter educators, researchers, practitioners and consumers to exchange ideas and reflect on the work we do.

Previous work by interpreting researchers (Bancroft, 2013; Bontempo & Malcolm, 2012; Crezee, Atkinson, Pask, Wong & Au, 2015;, Heydon, & Mulayim, 2015) has shown that vicarious trauma (VT) is an oft-encountered element of our work that needs to be recognized so educators, interpreters and service providers can address it. In the first research article of this volume, Michael Harvey builds on his long experience as a therapist, moving the discussion beyond the obvious need for interpreters to engage in self-care toward ways we might actually benefit from such traumatic experiences. Harvey’s article thus illustrates a mode of inquiry which may allow VT to become a catalyst for growth and personal development for those affected by it. His approach can be implemented in professional development, interpreter education, mentoring or supervision and debriefing, and is particularly timely in regard to world events; it also links closely to several other contributions in this volume that describe interpreting in potentially traumatising settings.

Jim Hlavac then provides a systematic comparison of the standards for certification (as well as training and/or testing) of community interpreters in four countries: Australia, Canada, Norway and the UK. The features of each system are analysed and discussed in relation to the recently released ISO Guidelines for Community Interpreting, with a focus on the range of skills required by different credentialing systems and implications of shifting trends within those systems. Hlavac’s contribution provides a timely ‘stocktake’ of sorts, especially in light of the urgent need for professional interpreting services that several contributors in this volume highlight.

The Commentary section offers two papers that again focus on the interface between interpreter education and the reality of interpreting practice and societal needs. Relating closely to Hlavac’s analysis of credentialing systems, Jieun Lee and Moonsun Choi describe the South Korean government’s response to the need for interpreter education in rare languages, particularly in relation to asylum seekers. Lee and Choi describe the need for prescreening and assessment of basic interpreting skills, and propose a framework for developing interpreting skills for speakers of these languages in South Korea. Their framework could be adapted by interpreter educators and policy makers in other countries working with LLDs.

Brenda Nicodemus, Janis Cole and Laurie Swabey describe how we can draw on the narratives of experienced interpreter practitioners to help students in the classroom learn and reflect on the skills that they will need to develop as practitioners. This includes ethical decision making, in addition to linguistic and cultural competencies. Their open and innovative approach involved educators and students sharing ideas and constructing learning together. The paper provides a practical guide for other educators wishing to implement this approach in their classrooms, and is an excellent example of drawing on the community of practitioners to help develop the community of learners. Although it focuses on signed language interpreting it will no doubt have much broader relevance to spoken language interpreting and translation also.

Our Open Forum section features two contributions from traditionally multilingual and multicultural Belgium. In their opinion piece, Heidi Salaets and Katalin Balogh, educators and researchers at the University of Leuven, call for policy makers to implement the findings of interpreter education studies to meet newly arrived migrants’ and refugees’ urgent need for language access. The interview with Filip Verstraete adds the perspective of a consumer of interpreting services who has been advocating for language access for the Deaf community in Flanders, Belgium, ever since he was a young adult.

We also continue our Dissertation Abstracts section, so that readers can keep up to date with the latest doctoral and master’s research theses that are of direct relevance to interpreter education. In this volume, the four abstracts all relate to ASL interpreting. We enjoy giving new and emerging researchers the opportunity to share their work with the readership of this journal and encourage graduates and supervisors to keep us informed as to interesting dissertation summaries for us to feature in future volumes.

We would like to remind our readers that we have a rolling call for manuscripts and we encourage those working in interpreter education to send in submissions, be they evidence-based research articles, book reviews, (ideas for) interviews, commentary pieces or summaries of dissertations.

Does the refugee crisis and the increased need for interpreters of LLDs imply a shift away from the traditional focus on language-specific interpreter education? We would welcome contributions to this discussion for future volumes. Another interesting area for a future themed volume might be the benefits of digital technology for interpreter education and professional development. In fact, the 2015 InDialog conference on community interpreting involves presentations on the implementation of technology in interpreting and interpreting education; the 2016 Critical Link 8 conference has also called for presentations on similar themes. The 2013 InterpretAmerica Summit focused on the need for interpreters to make social media work for them professionally, and this is another topic on which we would welcome submissions. Please note, however, that these are ideas for future themed volumes and not restrictions; we welcome any submissions that have clear relevance to interpreter education.

This issue of IJIE combines many contributions which emphasize the exchange between interpreter education research and society: both the need for educators to draw on real life experiences and the need for society to sit up and take notice of the findings of research on and relating to interpreter education. We need to keep pushing the voice(s) of interpreter educators in the media and in policy making. To cite again from that powerful article in the Guardian:

Humanities research teaches us about the world beyond the classroom, and beyond a job. . . . Humanities scholars need to take what feels—right now—like a risk, and engage in more public scholarship. (Busl, 2015)


Bancroft, M. A. (2013, June). My heart is falling: Techniques for interpreting trauma. Workshop presented at the Critical Link 7 conference, Toronto, Canada.

Bontempo, K., & K. Malcolm (2012). An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Education interpreters about the risk of vicarious trauma in healthcare settings. In K. Malcolm & L. Swabey (Eds), In our hands: Educating healthcare interpreters (pp. 105–130). Washington DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Busl, G. (2015, October 19). Humanities research is groundbreaking, life-changing… and ignored. The Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/oct/19/humanities-research-is-groundbreaking-life-changing-and-ignored

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

Fishman, J. (1999). Reversing language shift. Theoretical and empirical foundations of assistance to threatened languages. Clevedon, OH: Multilingual Matters.

Johnston, T., & Napier, J. (2010) Medical Signbank: Bringing deaf people and linguists together in the process of language development. Sign Language Studies, 10(2), 258–275.

Lai, M., Heydon, G., & Mulayim,S. (2015). Vicarious trauma among interpreters, International Journal of Interpreter Education, 7(1), 3–22.

Major, G., Napier, J., Ferrara, L., & Johnston, T. (2012). Exploring lexical gaps in Australian Sign Language for the purposes of health communication. Communication and Medicine, 9(1), 37–47.

Slatyer, H. (2006). Researching curriculum innovation in interpreter education: The case of initial training for novice interpreters in languages of limited diffusion. In C. B. Roy (Ed.), New approaches to interpreter education (pp. 47–65). Washington DC: Gallaudet University Press.

[1] Correspondence to: CITjournaleditor@gmail.com

Research Articles

Reaping the Benefits of Vicarious Trauma

Michael Harvey


This article illustrates a mode of inquiry for reaping the benefits of experiencing vicarious trauma that can be utilized in interpreter education, mentoring and supervisory relationships, debriefing, and personal reflection. An adaptation of constructivist self-development theory and a narrative therapy approach are described. The latter approach includes the uncovering of what is absent but implicit, the uncovering of actions reflective of one’s personal agency, the relevant skills that one utilizes, and the social/relational history of these skills. Mitigating the risks and reaping the benefits of vicarious trauma may catalyze significant professional and personal growth such as clarification of values, self-identity, and skills, and provide interpreters with the essential fuel to sustain their passion for the work they do and the lives they live.

Keywords: vicarious trauma, interpreters, benefits, narrative therapy, Constructivist Self-Development Theory

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Formalizing Community Interpreting Standards: A Cross-National Comparison of Testing Systems, Certification Conventions and Recent ISO Guidelines

Jim Hlavac

Monash University


Community interpreting has become a global phenomenon, and the need for standard assurances of practice is being met by credentialing systems that certify a community interpreter through testing and/or training. This paper examines credentialing systems in Australia, Canada, Norway and the UK and poses the questions of whether the spread and development of testing systems has led to a widening of the skills now required for community interpreting, and whether testing alone is a means for the demonstration of all of these skills. Some attributes of credential candidates are pretest admission prerequisites. Testing alone is the common pathway for community interpreters in Australia and Canada to gain certification, while in Norway training is a corequisite for “higher-level” certification, and in the UK, it is strongly recommended. Training allows a degree of specialization in the areas of health, law and public services that are a feature also of Norwegian and UK certification. At a supranational level, the recently released ISO Guidelines for Community Interpreting also list as required attributes the ability to simultaneously interpret, negotiate cross-cultural pragmatic and discourse features, manage interactions, and formal training. These further skills are likely to be best ascertained through training that is corequisite or supplementary.

Keywords: community interpreting, standards, certification, ISO guidelines

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Recommendations for Interpreter Training for Asylum Interview Settings: The South Korean Case

Jieun Lee and Moonsun Choi

Ewha Womans University


The growing number of asylum applications submitted in South Korea and the recent passage of the Refugee Act (2013) call for a system for the provision of professional interpreting service and the training of interpreters for the asylum process. Although a few ad hoc training initiatives have been implemented in recent years, there is currently no training course that fulfills the requirements of the Act. This article thus aims to propose an appropriate training program for the certification of interpreters to be engaged in asylum interviews. To ensure the effectiveness of the training, the proposed training framework begins with prescreening of training candidates based on an examination of their bilingual and basic interpreting skills. In order to accommodate the specific conditions of South Korea, under which it is difficult to find candidates proficient in Korean among rare-language speakers, a separate track of intensive Korean-language training for speakers of in-demand rare languages was appended as a preparatory course to precede the main body of the training, so that those who lack Korean proficiency have training opportunities to improve their language skills prior to interpreter training. The main training program is focused on the development of interpreting skills through autonomous learning.

Keywords: interpreter training program, curriculum, interpreting skills, asylum interview, South Korea

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Storied Classrooms: Narrative Pedagogy in American Sign Language–English Interpreter Education

Brenda Nicodemus,1 Janis Cole,1 and Laurie Swabey2

1Gallaudet University 2St. Catherine University


Narrative pedagogy is an educational method that draws on the power of stories to cultivate learning. Narrative has been described as the fundamental way that individuals “make sense” of events by connecting new information to their own lived experiences. In this article, we argue that narratives are underutilized in American Sign Language–English interpreter education, perhaps due to concerns about confidentiality. This article describes an educational project that incorporated narratives from experienced medical interpreters into an interpreting course. The primary learning objective for students was to become familiar with specific competencies necessary for successful practice in medical settings. Drawing on the document “ASL–English Medical Interpreter Domains and Competencies,” students individually interviewed 17 experienced medical interpreters to gain perspectives on competencies needed to interpret in medical settings. The interviews and resulting narrative data were used in the classroom to develop content knowledge about the competencies and to cultivate critical thinking regarding issues that arise in medical interpreting. We provide two samples of narratives collected by students and discuss our instructional methods with the students. We suggest that narrative pedagogy can serve as an effective instructional method in ASL–English interpreter education.

Keywords: narrative pedagogy, reflective practice, ASL–English, medical, domains, competencies

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Open Forum

Open Forum Offerings

The open forum section of this volume features an opinion piece and an interview, both from contributors in Belgium. Belgium has a long tradition of providing interpreter and translator education, not least because of its division into three different language communities, which has led to an increased awareness of the issues involved in achieving appropriate crosslinguistic communication.

Europe is currently experiencing an unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa. In the opinion piece, two educators and researchers argue that now is the time for policy makers to implement the findings of interpreter education studies to meet newly arrived migrants’ and refugees’ urgent need for language access. The two projects they describe are examples of research findings that should inform policy making in response to the refugee crisis currently unfolding.

Belgium also has a very active Deaf community, and tertiary education providers (such as the University of Leuven) provide sign language interpreter education, often in consultation with members of the Deaf community. In our interview with Filip Verstraete, who has long been an advocate for the Deaf in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, he talks about his work for the Deaf community and his experience as a consumer of interpreting services.

We welcome further submissions for the Open Forum section for IJIE for our 2016 volumes. In addition to interviews with scholars, practitioners, and consumers, we welcome transcripts of debates or presentations of case studies that will extend our understanding of current and future trends in interpreter education.

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View “Interview: Interpreter Consumer and Deaf Advocate Filip Verstraete”
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Dissertation Abstracts

This volume of the IJIE contains abstracts for the following dissertations:

Becoming HEARING: A Qualitative Study of Expert Interpreter Deaf-World Cultural Competence

Leah Subak

Kent State University, Curriculum and Instruction. Email: lsubak@kent.edu

“The Work is You”: Professional Identity Development of Second-Language-Learner American Sign Language–English Interpreters

Danielle I. J. Hunt

Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, USA: danielle.hunt@gallaudet.edu

The Translation of Event-Structure Metaphors Rendered by Deaf Translators from English to American Sign Language

Daniel Ray Roush

Eastern Kentucky University: Daniel.Roush@eku.edu

Examining Oppression and Discrimination Among American Sign Language–English Interpreters

Mark Halley

Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, USA: mark.halley@gallaudet.edu

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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.