Monday, November 24

The Audacity of Change

With so much talk about change and hope, it got me thinking about the shifts happening within our profession. For some time now, translation and interpretation pedagogy in the United States has been undergoing a much needed change. It is slowly moving away from well-meaning 40 hour trainings and independent non-accredited trade schools to university-based training programs which have been approved by an accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. This is significant because the goal of accreditation is to ensure that the education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.

Historically, university-based translation and interpretation programs have been the norm in Western Europe. Starting with the first college of translators from Arabic to Latin in the city of Toledo during the 12th century and leading to contemporary programs offered in universities such as the University of Geneva Ecole de Traduction et d'Interpr├ętation, University of Leipzig, and la Universidad de Alicante. In the United States, we are starting to see an increase in university extended education certificate programs in translation and interpretation. Some of which include: New York University, California State University (Los Angeles and Fullerton), UCLA, etc. These programs are producing the next generation of interpreters and translators. They not only receive instruction on the ethical guidelines and standards of an interpreter/translator, but practical training in state-of-the-art language laboratories. We also find American universities offering bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in translation and interpretation studies. In addition to practical instruction, these students receive a strong theoretical foundation. In fact, 2008 saw the nation’s first doctorate in translation studies successfully completed at the Binghamton University Translation Research and Instruction Program (TRIP).

What does this pedagogical change mean for our profession? Should we look forward to a more consistent curriculum, professionalization, and increased employment opportunities? All signs point towards success. For medical interpreters we can look forward to national certification and in the state of California translators and interpreters can expect an increase in employment opportunities thanks to the implementation of Senate Bill 853. Even during times of uncertainty, I have the audacity to hope that our profession will continue to grow. After all, hope won.

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