Welcome to our interpreting world

Posted on 27/11/2019 · Posted in Dialogos, Our languages, Recent news, Research

An experiential interpreting workshop – that’s what the research team of the Language Centre’s Interpreting Service came up with this year for the University’s annual Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Conference on 29 and 30 October. Ever wondered about the life and times of an educational interpreter? University staff who attended this workshop signed up to be thrown in at the deep end to interpret in various simulated classroom scenarios. The deep-end scenario had a specific purpose – to give participants an authentic personal experience (with a limited introductory overview) of the demands, emotions and cognitive processes during simultaneous educational interpreting.

Even though participants were supported by experienced SU interpreting buddies, the tension was palpable when Eduard de Kock, the first presenter, fired away in English (at a very reasonable delivery pace) with a history ‘lecture’ to be interpreted to Afrikaans. They gave it their all – the words rolled off their tongues, together with rolling eyes, deep breaths and sighs, the odd nervous giggle and some “whatever” thrown in under the breath when they could not find those elusive equivalents at the speed of light. The lively feedback following the first lecture session included words and phrases like “missing one word made me lose the entire thread”, “the terminology derailed me”, “never realised how difficult it is” and “where do you get the vocabulary from?!”.

Although fun bubbled below the surface throughout the workshop, it was a serious affair. Participants gained a better understanding of the challenges and joys of educational interpreting, the professionalism of the Language Centre’s interpreting team and the importance of interpreting at SU.  Interpreting serves as a form of language support, embedded in the SU Language Policy, to assist students who battle to adequately understand the language of delivery in class. By using interpreting they could gain full access to the field of study’s content, capitalise on comprehensive knowledge transfer and benefit from layered meaning creation.