Teaching interpreting skills to second language learners

Year: 2018

Author: Dehghani, Yavar

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Interpreting is a language skill which is hardly taught along with the other four macro skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) in the mainstream second language courses. This skill which is used mostly for job related tasks, needs a relatively high proficiency in the second language, and thus it is usually taught in an intermediate or preferably in a higher and advanced course.  One of the unique second language environments where the students learn interpreting as a part of their jobs, is the Defence Force School of Language (DFSL). Interpreting skill is taught in the intensive language courses in this school along with other macro skills where the language learners are able to perform interpreting task effectively, especially to use it in a war zone situation, at the end of their language course.
This paper discusses the methods that are used in teaching interpreting skill to the defence personnel in a short time. The effectiveness of such methods has been attested by the performance of the language learners in the target country and their job.
DFSL is located in Melbourne where hundreds of Defence members study a second language in an intensive course ranging from three months to one year. The students in these courses come from different rank, age and education levels. The courses run for one year, every day and six periods a day. The result is that the students with zero background in a foreign language are able to communicate effectively with the native speakers of that language within a year.In this study, two groups of students were studied across 5 languages. In the first group, only four macro skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) were taught, and in the second group, the course included interpreting skill as well. The feedback gathered from the services who employed these students' language skills on the job were compared and analysed, and the result showed that the students in the latter group who learned interpreting, were more successful than the former group in using their language at work.
Moreover, since the National Australian Association for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) is the only organisation beside DFSL that runs interpreting classes, the differences and similarities between the two has also been discussed in this paper.