Fundamental Aspects of Interpreter Education


Fundamental Aspects of Interpreter Education

David B. Sawyer 2004

E-Book: 331 English Pages

Publisher: John Benjamins

Price: 1000 Toman

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The author offers an overview of the Interpreting Studies literature on curriculum and assessment. A discussion of curriculum definitions, foundations, and guidelines suggests a framework based upon scientific and humanistic approaches – curriculum as process and as interaction. Language testing concepts are introduced and related to interpreting. By exploring means of integrating valid and reliable assessment into the curriculum, the author breaks new ground in this under-researched area.Case studies of degree examinations provide sample data on pass/fail rates, test criteria, and text selection. A curriculum model is outlined as a practical example of synthesis, flexibility, and streamlining.

This volume will appeal to interpretation and translation instructors, program administrators, and language industry professionals seeking a discussion of the theoretical and practical aspects of curriculum and assessment theory. This book also presents a new area of application for curriculum and language testing specialists.


Fundamental Aspects of Interpreter Education should prove to be a seminal resource for interpreter trainers, testers, and curriculum developers. The thorough overview of Interpreting Studies and Language Assessment literature is enhanced by the author’s insightful case studies of the application of important principles of curriculum design and assessment in interpreter training programs.”

— Prof. Dr. Jean Turner, Ph.D., Graduate School of Language and Educational Linguistics, Monterey Institute of International Studies

“This book represents a truly interdisciplinary approach to developing curriculum and assessment instruments in interpreter education. Sawyer’s informative discussion of assessment will raise awareness of the need for validity and reliability in interpreting tests, something that has been sorely lacking in many programs. The model curriculum he proposes, based on the objective and thorough analysis of an existing program, marks a refreshing change from the intuitive and speculative approach that has characterized previous curriculum reform efforts.”

Holly Mikkelson, Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, Monterey Institute of International Studies

“Destined to make its mark as a model for interdisciplinary research, this book is a welcome contribution of the fields of both interpretation/translation studies and language testing. It offers an accessible approach to the integration of curriculum and assessment for language industry professionals and provides convincing evidence through case-study analyses of the benefits of valid and reliable testing procedures within interpreter education programs. This volume moves language testing into a relatively unexplored assessment arena and demonstrates how principles of language testing can help strengthen programs that aim to produce top-notch interpreters and translators.”

Frances A. Butler, Senior Research Associate & Language Testing Specialist, Center for the Study of Evaluation, UCLA

“While interpreting pedagogy has received increasing attention in the past few decades, curriculum and assessment remain areas that are under-studied, despite their fundamental importance to interpreter education programs. David Sawyer has made an important contribution to Interpreting Studies by presenting this volume that provides a scientific and theoretical framework to instructors, who possess a wealth of pedagogical experience in the field. This research will not only improve pedagogy and instruction but also the stature of these programs in academia.”

Chuanyun Bao, Dean of the Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, Monterey Institute of International Studies

“Informed by state-of-the art concepts and models from relevant disciplines as well as the author’s profound knowledge and experience as a professional conference interpreter and interpreter trainer in Germany and in the US, David Sawyer’s comprehensive study represents a milestone in the literature on interpreter education. Based on extensive fieldwork in a sensitive institutional environment, the book is as valuable for its conceptual insights as it is for its rigorous empirical analysis, and is clearly essential reading for interpreter educators throughout the world.”

Franz Pöchhacker, Associate Professor, Department of Translation and Interpreting, University of Vienna

“Fundamental Aspects of Interpreter Education by David B. Sawyer is obligatory reading for all educators in the field of conference interpreting. In addition to presenting a fine piece of original research, Sawyer puts his finger on several sore spots in established interpreting programs that experience similar shortcomings and could well heed his advance adapted to their own particular circumstances.[…] In a word: bravo! I encourage all interpreter educators, both in traditional institutions in Europe and in more recently founded programs in the Third World, to read this excellent book and to heed as many of the recommendations as fit their needs. […] David Sawyer’s fine and timely contribution to this field deserves recognition by his peers, and the rest of us would do well to spend whatever time is necessary to read and reflect on his valuable book.”

Georganne Weller, in Interpreting Vol. 8:2 (2006)

“David Sawyer ventures into uncharted territory when he explores and integrates curriculum and assessment in interpreter education and challenges traditional notions of interpreter curriculum and assessment (testing). He presents a convincing case for the importance of science, humanism and testing concepts in curriculum and assessment. A powerful, insightful book, Fundamental Aspects of Interpreter Education reveals the core of interpreter education, paves the way to a fresh approach to curriculum and assessment and opens new research horizons at a time when the need for interpreters is critical. Interpreter educators, students, language professionals and researchers will reap the benefits of Sawyer’s work. For anyone involved in interpreter education and policy, this book is a must.”

Prof. Dr. Diane de Terra, Ph.D., Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, 1994-2002 Monterey Institute of International Studies

“This book exposes interpreter trainers to the assessment and language testing literature. Thus, it makes a unique contribution to the literature on interpreter training.”

Charles W. Stansfield, Second Language Testing, Inc., Washington, D.C.


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