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BA Spanish and Chinese

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Introduction to Interpreting: Context, Skills and Modes

Unit code ELAN30242
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 6
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Modern Languages and Cultures
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course unit develops students’ competence in bilateral interpreting (liaison mode) in contexts such as tourism, business and the public services, and also provides insight into other modes of interpreting used in international conference settings (consecutive and simultaneous). A focus is placed on summarizing, on-sight translation, public speaking, note-taking, glossary preparation, and quality assessment.  Learning is supported through regular feedback in class and independent study based on enquiry-based learning activities and reflective practice. Students will also be introduced to the principles of ethical practice, the role of professional bodies and the requirements of professional development in the field.


The course unit will appeal to students who enjoy thinking on their feet and speaking in front of an audience; it provides an excellent opportunity to develop oral skills with a focus on language-in-context, and enhance cultural knowledge in specialized domains. It also tests critical thinking skills through engagement with the relevant literature in dialogue interpreting studies.


Please note: this course unit has pre-requisites.


Please Note: This is a popular course unit and places are limited to 40 students (20 French / 20 Spanish). Providing that the following pre-requisites are satisfied, enrolment will be on a first come, first served basis.



Students must hold a minimum of 60% in their second year French or Spanish Language (or equivalent) in order to apply for enrolment on this course unit. A short placement test may be required (see below).


Application Process

Students should send an application in the course unit via email to:

Placement tests will be required for: 1. Students who have taken French or Spanish ab initio as part of their programme and 2. Students who are not taking a year abroad. The placement test will take place in semester I.

In the event the course unit is over-subscribed, applications will be ranked and a waiting list created.

Deadline for applications: Friday 9th August 2019

Please note a waitlist for this course unit will be in operation until the end of the Course Unit Selection process in semester two.


Available on which programme(s)?

Modern languages programmes involving French or Spanish



The course unit aims to:

·         familiarize students with the national and international contexts of interpreting

·         develop the skills required for effective interlingual and intercultural communication

.         foster critical engagement with key theoretical developments in dialogue interpreting studies


Indicative syllabus

Language-specific tutorial (50 mins)

Lectures / Workshops (2 hours)

Generic skills development in bilateral interpreting

Lecture 1:

·         Role of the interpreter in different contexts and modes

·         Enquiry based learning and the interpreting process

Bilateral interpreting (Tourism)

Lecture 2:

·         Evaluating interpreter-mediated dialogue

·         Introduction to the role of memory and active listening in interpreting

Bilateral interpreting (Tourism)

Lecture 3:

·         Note-taking for interpreters

·         Preparing for tourism-related assignments

On-sight translation (into and from English)

Lecture 4

·         Quality analysis in interpreting

·         Introduction to interpreter codes of ethics and national occupational standards

On-sight translation (from English) / Bilateral interpreting (Business)

Lecture 5

·         Introduction to intercultural communication and business interpreting

·         On-sight translation skills development

On-sight translation (from English) / Bilateral interpreting (Business)

Lecture 6

·         Business interpreting

On-sight translation (into English) / Bilateral interpreting (Business)

Lecture 7

·         Introduction to public service interpreting

·         Focus on healthcare interpreting and interpreting in asylum procedures

On-sight translation (from English) Bilateral interpreting (Public Service Context)

Lecture 8

·         Introduction to simultaneous interpreting

Bilateral interpreting (Public service context)

Lecture 9

·         Bilateral interpreting skills development

Bilateral interpreting (Public service context)

Drop-in tutorials / guided activities on Blackboard past oral exam

Mock exams

Drop-in tutorials / guided activities on Blackboard past oral exam


Teaching and learning methods

The course is delivered on the basis of 12 x 1 hour interactive language-specific seminars, and 9 x 2 hour general seminars and workshops in which generic skills and career development will be the focus. Progress in the module will depend on regular practice outside of the seminars, which will be structured through online exercises, group work and independent learning.


Medium of language:  English (lectures), Language-specific classes (French/Spanish)

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students should be able to:

- apply the principles of effective interlingual and intercultural communication to a range of scenarios;
- justify their communicative decisions based on a coherent frame of reference for quality analysis;
- demonstrate an understanding of a range of social, cultural and intellectual issues in France and Spain (and the wider French and Spanish-speaking worlds) in the contemporary context, as reflected in the materials studied.

Intellectual skills

By the end of the course unit, students will be able to:

·         engage with relevant concepts concerning the theory and practice of interpreting

.         assess their own language learning needs, develop and apply strategies for addressing these needs, and evaluate and further refine these strategies.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students should be able to:

- communicate with a good degree of fluency and spontaneity as appropriate to the level of difficulty of the materials studied;
- evaluate communication management skills;
- develop targeted preparation skills and on-sight translation skills;
- develop note-taking techniques for bilateral interpreting at an introductory level.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students should be able to:

- manage time, and work to deadlines;
- use information and communication technology (ICT);
- undertake independent learning and reflect upon their achievements;
- participate constructively in group/team work and group discussions;
- assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others;
- show an awareness of and a responsiveness to the nature and extent of intercultural diversity.

Employability skills

Self management Communication with different audiences (oral and written) Intercultural communication skills for business and public services Familiarity with the role of professional associations Research skills for career development

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Journal entry


500 words




2000 words


On-sight translation and reflective account


2 x on-sight translations of 300 words each and a 1500-word reflective account


Oral interpreting examination


Dialogue interpreting of a pre-prepared scenario of approx. 20 minutes



Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback and in-class feedback


Written feedback and opportunity for individual discussion of performance in office hour

Summative essay

Written feedback and opportunity for individual discussion of performance in office hour

Summative on-sight translation / reflective account

Written report of oral examination on request

Summative oral examination


Recommended reading

Jones, Roderick (2002) Conference Interpreting Explained, Manchester: St Jerome.

Hale, Sandra, B. (2007) Community Interpreting, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Nolan, James (2005) Interpretation: Techniques and Exercises, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Tipton, Rebecca and Olgierda Furmanek (2016) Dialogue Interpreting: A guide to interpreting in public services and the community, London and New York: Routledge.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Catherine Franc Unit coordinator
Rebecca Tipton Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Please Note: Placement tests may be required for this course unit. 

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