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New Approaches to Interpreter Education

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Introduction to Medical Interpreting

This introductory course is the key to a successful program. The course should be seen as an introduction for students to the basic principles of healthcare interpreting. Its goal is to allow students to reflect on their bilingualism, to raise awareness on different talents students already may have in communication, and to help them explore resources that can become part of their lifelong task in enhancing their language and communication skills.

Skills developed in this course will help students to become more successful in other classes, as they apply new strategies in listening, note-taking, anticipating information, and speaking. Also, studentsí information processing abilities will grow as they learn to perform various tasks simultaneously, as any effective interpreter must.

Language Enhancement for Medical Interpreting

In this course, students will learn to approach the study of language in new ways, having seen the practical applications of their studies in class. The second course in the HIE curriculum aims at enhancing skills in both languages so that students are better prepared for tasks in interpreting. In Introduction to Medical Interpreting, students will have noticed that the level of language they use in everyday communication among friends and family may not be sufficient to accomplish a specific interpreting task. They will have also discovered how language production under pressure differs from language production used to accomplish more simple communicative goals. The goal of this course is, thus, to raise studentsí awareness of the difference between language for communication and language for work, and to provide them with tools to enhance their language skills in order to work with them (Angelelli and Degueldre 2002).

Students will benefit from this course in numerous ways. First, they will enhance their repertoire by reading about and listening to a variety of topics that range from everyday language used in healthcare settings to language used in medical interviews, technical discussions, legal documents that pertain to the healthcare setting, etc. Students will research medical discourse without limiting it to that used by the most powerful interlocutor (i.e., the healthcare provider). They will thus be exposed to formal and informal varieties of both languages, to ways in which patients complain about or describe ailments. This will help them acquire a more extensive lexicon that will be an invaluable resource with which to perform under pressure. Second, they will develop coping strategies by learning, for example, paraphrasing or circumlocution, skills that are very helpful when they cannot find specific terms. This will undoubtedly increase their confidence in their linguistic skills. Beyond language enhancement, in this course, students will learn to approach the study of languages in a different way. They will learn to appreciate the scope and range that each language has, and they will become aware of cultural differences in communication inherent to both. Finally, the language course is specifically developed to allow the transfer of skills acquired in this course to research, writing, and presenting for other content courses both in English and the student's home language.

Strategies for Medical Interpreting

Students will benefit from the course in several ways. First, they will learn to apply the basic principles of interpreting to the healthcare setting. This will help students to choose more effective interpreting strategies. Students will gain practice both as speakers and interpreters as they change roles periodically. They will deliver speeches, role play (see Appendix A) in dialogues, and interpret to acquire practice in simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. They will interpret during both monologues and dialogues. They will try short and long pieces of discourse with a variety of registers, and work with slow and fast speakers as well as different text length. The length and speed of the task will increase according to their performance. The content of the texts will vary from week to week, building on the topics that students explored during Language Enhancement for Medical Interpreting. This recycling of materials will be extremely helpful for students at their initial stages of competency development.

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