Freshen up your interpreting this summer

Are you an interpreting student who wants to add an edge to your skills? Are you looking for an introduction to the kinds of interpreting used in today’s market? Do you want to improve your English? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Heriot-Watt has the right course for you.

This summer Heriot-Watt is offering an Intensive Interpreting Course. This course will focus on the understanding and the use of English while allowing you to develop interpreting techniques covering as consecutive interpreting, chuchotage and the use of the infoport system (portable equipment including a microphone for the interpreter and receivers for clients).

Sometimes, even though we have good training in interpreting we don’t always know what to expect from the market. This is why the Intensive Interpreting Course is focused on core market requirements and will enable you to hone some specific techniques used in interpreting.

Don’t worry, it won’t be all theory and no play! A large part of the course will be dedicated to the practical side of interpreting. You will be able to refresh your note-taking, understand how chuchotage interpreting works and how to use an infoport system.

And that’s not all. If you want to enjoy the life of Edinburgh during the festival and work on your interpreting skills at the same time, this is your answer. The course will take place from 13th to 24th August, and not only will you be able to discover the Scottish way of life in your spare time but it will also be part of the course. In fact, the techniques you will have learned during the classes will be put into practice during practice field trips.

So, if you want to learn a little bit more about Scottish history and culture while you improve your interpreting, this is the course for you. A number of cultural visits will be organised, including (subject to changes): the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden, the Book Festival, the Scottish Parliament and Glenkinchie distillery. Needless to say, we won’t miss the opportunity to have you interpret during these trips. They will be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the infoport skills you have learned in the classroom.

So, if you are free in August and you are interested in interpreting, this is the course for you! Come discover Scotland and work on your English and interpreting skills at the same time.

If you want to know more about this course, visit the course Facebook page: or send an email to Mathilde Postel.

Author: Mathilde Postel

Leading Researcher Joins Heriot-Watt

The latest exciting development in Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University is the excellent news that, as of September 2012, Máiréad Nic Craith will join the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies as Professor of European Culture and Heritage. An anthropologist, Máiréad currently holds a Chair at the School of Sociology and Social Sciences at the University of Ulster and has held honorary and visiting Professorships at the Universities of Exeter and Göttingen. Máiréad is an expert in European cultural studies and has made a particularly strong contribution to the conceptual understanding of contemporary political-linguistic debates in Ireland and across Europe.

As the author or editor of 14 books and numerous essays, she has received many accolates for her publications. She was joint winner of the 2004 Ruth Michaelis-Jena Ratcliff research prize for folklife. In 2006, she was awarded a Senior Distinguished Research Fellowship at the University of Ulster, and in 2009 she was elected to the Royal Irish Academy. On that occasion she was cited as “an impressive and very productive scholar who is leading research in areas of contemporary relevance, both in Ireland and across the world”. She served as a panel member for the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise and is again involved in the 2013 Research Excellence Framework audit. She has also served on numerous research evaluations in Europe and in Canada. In 2011, she was invited by the United Nations as an expert on heritage and human rights.

Word Up!

After years of dithering and de-prioritisation, it seems parliamentary action to address the decline in British citizens’ language learning is finally approaching. The Holyrood and Westminster governments are announcing plans for change, trying to put the brakes on a decade of implosion which has seen the numbers of young people taking foreign language qualifications at schools decimated. In 2010, 43% of pupils aged 15-16 were entered for a language in national examinations, down from a peak of 75% in 2002.

In London, the focus will be on English and other languages. The education secretary, Michael Gove, will promise a new focus on spelling and grammar when he sets out his plans for the teaching of English in primary schools later this week. Children as young as five will be expected to learn and recite poetry by heart in England. He will also put forward proposals to make learning a foreign language compulsory for pupils from the age of seven.

In May 2012, a study commissioned by the Scottish government said children in Scotland should begin learning a second language as soon as they start school at the age of five. The recommendations – made by the government’s Modern Languages Working Group  – also suggest that children should start to learn a third language before they reach 10 years old.

If this seems radical in a British context, it certainly isn’t unusual within Europe. Last year, the Edinburgh-based Consuls General of France, Germany, Spain, Italy and China joined forces to warn that Scotland needed to take modern languages more seriously. Scottish exports to these five nations alone were worth £4.52bn in 2009, representing about 21% of Scotland’s total international exports.

There are so many reasons for supporting these proposals. For a start, it’s easier for pupils to learn new languages when they’re young. They’ll become more fluent and the learning process will be more fun. Learning early will also help them to develop skills in their first language. And it will confer general cognitive benefits which will assist their all-round personal development.

Of course, many of these benefits can also be gained from learning indigenous languages other than English, and there is evidence of Gaelic being more popular than German in some Scottish schools . The current campaign to introduce school qualifications in British Sign Language  also looks set to be highly popular with pupils, and to promise significant broadening of linguistic, cultural and social horizons amongst students.

Still, as good as these plans may be, they won’t work unless there are teachers capable of delivering them. Modern languages have not hitherto been seen as a major priority – it’s future teachers of maths and sciences who qualify for the most generous ‘golden hellos’ (). Still, Throughout the UK, there appears to be belated recognition that it is never too soon for children to start on the path to bilingualism but is it too little, too late? Let us know what you think in the “Comments” box below.


Author: Graham Turner

How could research help you?

If you could ask translation and interpreting researchers to look into one thing, what would it be? Here is a simple poll to get you started. Please do leave extended answers in the comments.

Please note, the question below should read:

If you could ask translation and interpreting researchers to look into one thing, what would it be? Sadly, the poll cannot be editied now without resetting the result. Apologies for the typo.

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