Training of community interpreters in Hong Kong : a case study

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In this paper, I present the evolution of an ongoing training workshop for community interpreters who provide interpreting services to members of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. This is a case study using participatory action research (PAR) methods of reflective examinations and multi-stakeholders participation. The focus of this paper is on training materials and assessment methods. The concept of evolution is key to this study because the design and delivery of the skill-based training workshop have been evolving. One of the reasons why constant modification has been necessary is that literature that deals specifically with the design and delivery of training for community interpreters is scarce. Related works are general in nature, such as a description of a BA program (van den Boaerde, 2007) or a general introduction to different training program available in one country (Niska, 2007). Due to the lack of a readily available training template, when I conducted the first workshop, the design resembled closely the format of training workshops for conference interpreters, the only form of training I was familiar with. But as I learned more about the nature of community interpreting and the needs of participants and stakeholders, I had to make changes in how the workshop was conducted. This paper focuses on training materials and assessment methods because these are the two most challenging issues faced by me as a trainer. Normally, interpreting trainers are familiar with both the source and target languages that trainees work with. In this workshop, however, participants are from different countries and speak different languages. The only language that we all have in common is English, a second language to both me and all the participants. At the same time, English cannot be the target language because I do not know their native languages, therefore it is impossible for me to identify appropriate source language training materials in their native tongues. But when the source language is English, it is equally impossible for me to assess if the target language renditions are accurate. Consequently, I have had to constantly change the training materials and assessment approach. In the process of modification, I had to reconcile my own ignorance about community interpreting, strike a balance between the voices of different stakeholders and participants, and discover the needs of participants attending the workshop and explore ways to meet their needs. Since the purpose of this workshop is to train newly recruited interpreters, the backgrounds and needs of each batch of participants vary and constant adjustment is needed. Therefore, this is a report not of a completed project, but of a project in progress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-142
Number of pages26
JournalInterpretation and translation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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