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New Approaches to Interpreter Education

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motivation (Nunan 1988 and 1991). Learners bring beliefs and attitudes about the nature of the task at hand, and it is important to consider these when selecting content and materials for the course.

On the other hand, a needs assessment to design curriculum for an interpreting program can have various sources of input. The needs of prospective students are assessed together with the needs of the market, as well as those of the community and the funding agents. At times, the focus of a curriculum can be determined exclusively by funding (e.g., Jacobson and HIHAL in Kennen 2005).[4]

The key towards a successful curriculum is the clear formulation of student learning outcomes (SLOs). Primarily they serve as indicators of program or course effectiveness and measure individual student performance (e.g., for grading). Additionally SLOs can diagnose both specific course problems and student problems. They can clarify studentsí expectations. They describe how learning will empower or enable students, reflect intentions that guide teaching and learning, indicate how students can demonstrate skills and knowledge, and suggest how other types of learning such as values and attitudes might be inferred from student choices or actions. Additionally, SLOs design curricular structures, articulate courses with their prerequisites and co-requisites, estimate student and instructor workload, recruit and motivate students, and communicate and negotiate course expectations. SLOs can also select or devise instructional strategies and tactics, guide student learning efforts, clarify grading and improve its validity and reliability, and market courses and programs. Moreover, clear statement of SLOs provides for consistency in all areas of the course.

Problem-Based Learning: A Relevant Pedagogy

The position I take in this chapter is that healthcare interpreting is an integral component of cross-linguistic communication in a healthcare setting. Healthcare communication is part of the medical school curriculum. Therefore, I would like to suggest that some components of the HIE could be developed in tandem with case studies in medical school. In order to do that, letís discuss the methodology that is currently more successful in medical schools and consider its application to the teaching and learning of healthcare interpreting.

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a pedagogical strategy for posing significant, contextualized, real-world situations, and providing resources, guidance, and instruction to learners as they develop content knowledge and problem-solving skills (Mayo, Donnelly, Nash, & Schwartz 1993). In PBL, students collaborate to study the issues of a problem as they strive to create viable solutions. Because the amount of direct instruction is reduced in PBL, students assume greater responsibility for their own learning (Bridges & Hallinger 1991). The instructor's role becomes one of subject matter expert, resource guide, and task group consultant. This arrangement promotes the group processing of information rather than an imparting of information by faculty (Vernon & Blake 1993). The instructor's role is to encourage student participation, provide appropriate information to keep students on track, avoid negative feedback, and assume the role of fellow learner (Aspy et al. 1993).

PBL can be traced back to the times of John Dewey and apprenticeships, and it was pioneered at Case Western Reserve University in the early 1950s. The structure developed by Case Western now serves as the basis of the curriculum at many secondary, postsecondary, and graduate schools, including Harvard Medical School (Savery 1994). In fact, more than 80% of medical schools use the PBL methodology to teach students about clinical cases, either real or hypothetical (Vernon & Blake 1993; Bridges & Hallinger 1991).


4. For more information, see the new masterís in healthcare interpreting and healthcare applied linguistics (HIHAL) at the School of Public Health, University of North Texas funded by Hablamos Juntos/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at www.hablamosjuntos.org.
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