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Has anyone ever heard of a way to test interpreting skills?
Thread poster: xxxgtreyger
xxxgtreyger  Identity Verified
English to Russian
+ ...
Jun 2, 2005

For many years DOD tested people's listening, reading and speaking abilities. There was never a test for interpreters, possibly because there weren't many interpreters in DOD. The few interpreters that were in the Department were judged on their speaking ability. I'd like to make a suggestion to test the interpreting skills, but I'd like to have a "leg to stand on" in case I am told that such a test does not exist.

Thanks in advance.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
U.S. Federal Courts Jun 2, 2005

The U.S. Federal Courts is one agency that does test interpreting skills and there are others for various states, but mostly for court interpreting purposes.

Surely the U.N. must do so also.


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singenberger  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 00:35
English to French
+ ...
Testing interpreting skills through paraphrasing and At-sight translation Jun 2, 2005

Gennadiy Treyger wrote:

For many years DOD tested people's listening, reading and speaking abilities. There was never a test for interpreters, possibly because there weren't many interpreters in DOD. The few interpreters that were in the Department were judged on their speaking ability. I'd like to make a suggestion to test the interpreting skills, but I'd like to have a "leg to stand on" in case I am told that such a test does not exist.

Thanks in advance.




At the University of Salford in the UK, 2 ways of testing interpreting skills consisting in 1- asking the person to rephrase or paraphrase in the same language a statement he has heard. 2- Reading automatically in a language B a text written in a laguage A.

The first part entails the skill of understanding the message whatever the wordings ( an intralingual performance) while the second relies in extracting the message from one sense (sight) and deliver it. A crosslingual performance.

N.B The terminology used is mine.


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:35
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
EU competitions for interpreters Jun 2, 2005

Hi Giennadyi,
you may want to have a look at how EU instititutions test their future interpreters - http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/lex/JOHtml.do?uri=OJ:C:2005:117A:SOM:EN:HTML This is official notice of open competition for senior conference interpreter (click no 32) and the test comprises:

a) A test comprising a series of multiple-choice questions to assess your general ability, in particular your verbal reasoning skills.
b) A test comprising a series of multiple-choice questions to assess your general ability, in particular your numerical reasoning skills.

And then interpreting tests:
consecutive interpretation into your active language (maximum duration of the of the passage of speech to be interpreted will be 6 minutes) and simultaneous interpretation into your active language (maximum 12 minutes).

There is also an interview which aims to establish a general knowledge of the EU institutions and "policies, general knowledge, motivation and ability to work in a multicultural environment within the European civil service, both independently and in a team."

I hope this will help you to draft a proposal.

Personally, I don't think there exists other method to test interpreting skills then actually listen and observe a candidate doing interpreting. All tests I know of include that element - actual interpreting.


HTH,
Magda


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xxxgtreyger  Identity Verified
English to Russian
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to everyone! Jun 2, 2005

This gave me a good jump off point. Thank you all. If an interest exists, I'll keep everyone updated on how my struggle to "change the system".

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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:35
English to Arabic
+ ...
Testing of interpreter skills - OPI is likely the closest instrument Jun 3, 2005

Greetings to all in this thread.

At some point in their process of recruiting, assessing and selecting candidates for linguist positions, most (but not all) entities of the US Government conduct telephonic oral proficiency interviews (OPI) to test and determine the listening comprehension and speaking skills of an applicant.

That two-way interactive process fits most closely to any useful instrument for testing an interpreter's skills.

The good news is that an OPI, when administered and conducted properly with OPI-certified testers, enables a pretty comprehensive engagement and test of the candidate's abilities and vocabulary. An OPI is effectively the best-accurate, if not the only, way to assess abilities in a particular dialects of a target language (i.e., Arabic, or Persian, whether in Farsi or Dari). The process for conducting an OPI (scheduling, doing the test, assessing and rating, and resultant paperwork afterward) is very labor-intensive because of the players involved.

The bad news, however, is that some US Govt agencies are organizationally lazy and rely on an applicant's first passing an existing DLPT in the target language, before they administer an OPI.

FWIW, several native-fluent Arabic applicants who were administered the DLPT by (IIRC) the FBI in NYC right after the post 9/11 rush fo recruit linguists. When they complained with good reason, the HR/testers responded that the DPT was their policay and thus the first step. Contrarily, the Dept of Defense has a more-enlightened view and practical policy: DOD treats the OPI as an equal and parallel method to test and assess linguists, especially in the interactive abilities close to those of an interpreter.

HTH.

Regards,

Stephen H. Franke

Escort-Interpreter and Trainer
(English Arabic,
Kurdish and Persian Farsi)
San Pedro, California


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NataliaElo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:35
Member (2004)
English to Russian
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Diploma in Public Service Interpreting //UK Jun 3, 2005

Hi Gennadiy,

I'm not sure if this is something what could be useful, but anyway, here you are:
http://www.iol.org.uk/qualifications/exams_dpsi.asp#egroup


In Finland similar exam has been implemented from last or this year

http://www.turku.fi/resurssirengas/englanti/nayttotutkinto.html

and is actually a prerequisite for membership of the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters.

http://www.sktl.net/kotisivu/eng/member.htm


Сheers
Natalia


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:35
Member
English
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Interpreting Exams Jun 7, 2005

Hi Gennadiy,

I work in the Translation and Interpretation Faculty of a University near Barcelona. Although I am only involved with the translation and language teaching side of the faculty, I can assure you that our interpretation students do indeed do exams involving interpretation.

They do these in our interpretation labs where I believe that they each record a tape of their performance in an isolation booth as they hear a speaker give a live talk in the main hall. These tapes are then assessed for accuracy, appropriateness, etc by their tutor.

For more detail of interpretation classes, exams and assessment criteria, etc, you could try writing to my colleague Jacqueline Minett. Her e-mail is: Jacqueline.Minett(at)uab.es
[REPLACE the (at) with "@" - this is to avoid "bots" pilfering her address from this page].

All the best,

Berni


[Edited at 2005-06-07 20:21]


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xxxBesmir
Local time: 00:35
Bosnian to English
+ ...
Skill vs. linguistic competance Jun 29, 2005

Everytime when I was tested for a job in interpretation I was given three tests:

- on spot interpretation: I am given a document, say in Bosnian, given a minute to read it, and then start interpreting to English,

- mock interview: two people sitting in front of me, one is a Bosnian speaker, the other one is English speaker, and one of them interviews the other, done in consecutive mode,

- summary: someone reads a story in Bosnian, while I am taking notes, story is about 2 minutes long, includes numbers, groupations of animals, proverb or two, and when the story is concluded I interpret it on the basis of my notes.

The above is used when you are hiring a person to do a specific job in order for you to test his skill of interpretation. You assess his linguistic competance in an interview that you will conduct with him before you approach this level. If your candidate cannot express himself in that interview, you don't even start with the interpretation test.

In teh interpretation test, you are aiming to see if the candidate can express himself accurately in a foreign language, but also how does he go about making his way through things that are unknown to him, what is his posture, his attitude, his persona when interpreting. Note that the purpose of this testing is to assess his SKILL.

What this gentleman suggested before me is very typical for academic environment: you sit down, tape yourself, and the examiner then checks your linguistic capabilities. They may pass you if you shown exceptional ways in your substitution for things that you couldn't remember at the moment, but if you show too many of them no matter how exceptional they are, you should be failed.

The thing with interpretation is that you always have translators who come to interpreters and say "Yeah, you work under stress and you are doing a great job, but you can never produce work like I can," which is true at a certain level. The purpose of the interpreter is to make possible for the conversation to keep going: if there is an ambiguity, translator will sit down with his glossaries and all and translate the transcript without any stress and outside influence that we are exposed to.

So, not to be long, it would maybe be better if both translators and interpreters were tested in translation first.


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