Trilingual Interpreter Training

Some of the earliest findings of the NCIEC Needs Assessments highlighted the need for increased educational opportunities for interpreters working in languages other than, and/or in addition to ASL and English in the US. The NCIEC Practitioners Needs Assessment (2007) concluded that the “…need for Spanish-speaking interpreters and interpreter education that is available and accessible in third languages, especially Spanish, is critical. Most respondents work with consumers from different cultural backgrounds (approximately 85%), and believe there is a need for third language fluency to best serve these consumers (68%). “ (p. 28)

In 2008, TIEM’s National Center Initiatives (2005-2010) advocated for Consortium sponsorship of trilingual training, and in the summer of 2008, we helped sponsor the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. In addition to contributing funds, the National Center contributed staff to aid in the evaluation of the trainings effectiveness. The National Center is again contributing to the 2010 training.

The Texas Trilingual training, with an overall focus on skill building, is scheduled. The plan, in a nutshell, is as follows.

There will be two different skill groups of trilingual interpreters, specifically Group A, who are advanced and may be practicing trilingual interpreters, and Group B, who need to work on skill development. Each applicant will be evaluated through telephone Interviews conducted by the program coordinator and by the instructors for the purpose of determining if they have the necessary skills for participation in the training and to determine appropriate group placement. The interviews will predominately involve the determination of Spanish and English skills while their certification level will be used mainly to determine ASL skills.

Group A
These interpreters will have strong ASL and English skills but need to work on upgrading their Spanish skills and register to be able to function more effectively in a trilingual setting. This group will encounter instruction and practice situations geared towards upgrading their weaker language skill area, as well as overall ASL, English and Spanish trilingual skills.

Group B
This group has a weakness in 2 or all 3 languages. They may be beginner to intermediate interpreters and not necessarily certified, but who need intense instruction and also practice interpreting in a non-threatening setting. Feedback and guidance will be provided to enhance skill improvement. Their strength may be in spoken English and lacking in Spanish vocabulary that is needed for trilingual interpreting, such as medical, legal, business terminology. This group will participate in Spanish language remedial instruction and also in the ASL instruction as needed. Those students who have good Spanish skills will participate in English to ASL and ASL to English and may not participate the Spanish remedial training. This group of interpreters will have the opportunity to participate in any or all 3 interpreting sessions including the trilingual session.

To date we have confirmed 2 Spanish language instructors, 2 trilingual instructors, and 1 ASL trainer. We are waiting on confirmation from one deaf instructor and one more ASL instructor. Participants must attend for the full 40-hour week in order to get CEUs. We put strong emphasis on full participation and being on time. Certificates and CEUs are awarded on Friday 5:00 p.m.

For more information please read The Texas BEI Interpreter Certification Examinations: Exemplary Models of Valid and Reliable Certification Instruments for Interpreters for the Deaf (PDF)