Anyone working as a face-to-face interpreter will have encountered some of the professional pitfalls that can occur during the course of a working day.
And if your job is to help people with little or no English navigate the labyrinthine complexities of some local government services available, you will understand that anything and everything can occur on a watch.
For this reason, Leeds Metropolitan University’s School of Languages has put together a series of courses aimed at developing a student’s understanding of the underlying skills necessary to the role of a public service interpreter.
The set of four courses begins at first year degree level (the Vocational Certificate) and runs to masters level (the Advanced Professional Diploma). They are targeted at people who provide interpreting services to those who speak little or no English and who are accessing public services such as those found in the healthcare sector, local councils and social services.
The online training courses, the last two of which have now been launched, all cover the key issues faced by professional public service interpreters.
The programme of study has been developed in collaboration with experts within the language services industry. Students signed up to the courses can get a vital insight into many of the issues faced by interpreters every day, including ethics, telephone and sight translation, and the wider cultural skills needed to be an effective communicator. Other issues vital to a working interpreter’s skill set will also be examined in depth, such as face-to-face skills, telephone translation, interpreting skills and the ‘professional’ abilities needed to maintain a career as an interpreter.
The vocational certificate is geared towards making students more attractive in the jobs market. The beauty of the course is that it is not aimed at improving language skills directly, but rather at growing the wider skills needed for a career in interpreting, thereby increasing the range of jobs that can be undertaken. As the focus is not on language improvement, the course is not restricted to people speaking specific a language combination; anyone with the required competence in English and another language can access the course.
All of the learning programmes are accessed through the International School of Linguists’ virtual learning environment.
The web-based platform has been designed specifically for linguists, with flexibility in mind. Because the courses are delivered wholly online, students are not required to attend classes at the university and they can be accessed from anywhere in the country.
Each student will be assigned a personal tutor who will advise them via e-mail or phone on how to successfully work through the course. As the students progress through the programme of study, their work will be subject to rigorous academic assessment from professionals working at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Course leader Marina Rabadán-Gómez, said: “The courses have been designed in collaboration with industry specialists and are delivered on a part-time basis and entirely online, meaning students can work in their own time and at their own pace, supported by Leeds Met tutors over the internet. The courses will provide interpreters between English and any other language with professional development opportunities to help them gain employment with public service institutions.”
All of the courses start four times a year: in April, June, October and January; with the vocational certificate and diploma lasting three months and the professional and advanced professional diplomas six months.
The courses can be taken separately, depending on the level and aims of the student, or in sequence.