As a freelance Spanish interpreter working in legal, court, and conference settings, my days vary. A lot.
A bit of background first: I’ve been in the freelance market for two years now, and it’s been three years since I finished my graduate work in interpreting. Before grad school, I worked as a staff interpreter and an interpreter services supervisor for about ten years. Before that, I worked as a subcontracted interpreter for an agency for a couple years while I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in Spanish, and for a while after I finished undergrad. So while I’m not new in interpreting, I’m still pretty new as a freelancer.
There’s a funny thing about feedback and interpreters. We all claim that when it comes to feedback: Tell it to us like it is! Don’t mince words! I can take it! Bring it on! As if feedback is this awful thing we must brace ourselves for.
I’ve (very generally) seen feedback divided into two main camps: We should be gentle in our feedback so that we protect the interpreter’s self esteem. Or, we should just tell it to them straight because this is the real world and clients aren’t going to handle them with such care. But there’s another approach that is considerate, yet straightforward: We should base our feedback on goals that are established by the interpreter so that it is useful. Continue reading “The Interpreter and the Sandwich, or: Why Feedback Is Not About Your Feelings”→
Somewhere near the beginning of this semester, I took up swimming. A few lessons in, my teacher introduced the breast stroke. “Arms, legs, and gliiiide”, she told me. But I couldn’t get my arms and legs right for the glide. She told me the breast stroke is a resting stroke. But it was so effortful, just to move forward a tiny bit. My shoulders hurt. My neck hurt from holding up my head when I felt like I was pulling myself underwater so long I couldn’t come up for a breath. Continue reading “Swimming, Interpreting, and Reflexions On Experiential Learning”→
In my grad school training, one of the techniques we learned was called “the salami”. If you ask an interpreter trainer about it, you might hear some why-do-we-call-it-salami-when-we-already-have-a-perfectly-good-name-for-it-which-is-segmentation grumbling. The salami technique, or the technique formerly known as segmentation, is tough to articulate.
During grad school, when I was living in Toronto and constantly traveling back and forth between the US and Canada, I got used to this question as the customs agent saw the student visa in my passport: What are you studying? It took me a while to come up with a short answer, because when I said, “conference interpreting”, I was just met with more questions about what conference interpreting actually is, as if I’d made it up. Continue reading “Yes, conference interpreting is a thing”→
Just kidding. There is no tenth standard of practice, and there is no standard that explicitly states, “Don’t be alone with the patient.”But the way interpreters and interpreter trainers talk, you’d think there was. I am guilty of participating in the creating and reinforcing of this belief.
Nearly twenty years ago, I moved back to the US from Costa Rica, and I dropped out of school with a handful of credits left to finish my BA. I went straight to work in a restaurant. I started waiting tables in this Italian place, and I was going to stash away all my tips until I had enough to go back to Costa Rica. Turns out I hate waiting tables, but I wasn’t ready to leave the restaurant. There was something happening in the kitchen that called to me. I ended up working in the kitchen for years, until I decided I needed to go back to school and finish the semester’s worth of credits to earn my BA.
Something similar happened on my road to conference interpreting. There was something going on in the kitchen (or the booth, rather) that I couldn’t ignore. Just as in the kitchen, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I stepped into the booth. It’s true: Everything I learned about interpreting, I learned in the kitchen. Continue reading “Everything I know about interpreting, I learned in the kitchen”→
Interpreting practice and feedback are important. One of my grad school professors wrote an article about peer assessment that inspired me to write about my own experience. Practice with a partner or in groups involves giving feedback to others, and in turn accepting others’ feedback. It requires a lot of work from everyone involved. It’s not just a matter of half-listening and then telling your practice partner, “Yeah, that was great.”
In 2012, I practiced alone and with a partner to prep for my state court exams. In 2015, I prepped the staff interpreters at my hospital Language Services department for their national certification exams. That same year, I prepped for my transition exams to be admitted to the second year of my graduate program, and then I passed my exit exams and graduated. Here’s what I’ve learned about feedback in interpreting practice, and how to make the best use of your time.
In this post, I’ll tell you how I prepared my staff interpreters to take their oral exam for certification. This is the method I learned when prepping for my state court oral exam, and then we used this same method in some of my grad school courses. Here’s what you’ll need:
Texts: Dialogues (for consecutive) or monologues (for simultaneous), and audio recordings of the same dialogues (or monologues).
Do you have 40 hours of formal training for medical interpreters? If not, why not make 2015 the year to do it? Many hospitals (including the one where I work) require that anyone serving as an interpreter have at least 40 hours of training. Training makes you more comfortable and competent doing the job, and ultimately results in a better, safer experience for the people you serve. So how about it? If you’re in my neck of the woods, you can join me for Bridging the Gap in Indianapolis this April and May. Check out location, pricing and course description here.
I’ve also got the registration page up for the very popular Medical Terminology for Interpreters all-day workshop. I recommend that you have a 40 hour training under your belt for this one, but it’s not required. I’m partnering again with my friends at LUNA Language Services in Indianapolis to offer this popular workshop. You can look at the details, sign up, and pay online here.
I also wanted to make sure that you guys saw the save the date for the South Eastern Medical Interpreters Association conference that’s set for June 2015 in Louisville! They hosted a couple of my workshops last year, and I had a great time with them. You can check out their website and call for proposals here. It looks like it’s going to be a great event! If you go, I will see you there.
Please feel free to add links to other upcoming events in the comment section below!