Welcome to the project homepage

"Interpreting enactments - a new critical and emancipatory approach in interpreting didactics"

This page will provide you with information on the innovative project on"interpreting enactments", which is supported by the Gutenberg Teaching Council of Mainz University. The pedagogical project tries, tests and develops the method of interpreting enactments and is an integral part of the specialization "Interpreting in medical, social and institutional fields" within the general MA programme “Translation” at the Department for Intercultural German Studies. This specialization consists of two modules and can be chosen by students enrolled in the M.A. Translation. For further information on the structure, goals and content of the program, please click here.

Aims, objectives, approach

Background of the method

Community interpreting in the Intercultural German Studies Department

The project team

Sponsors - Cooperation partners - Networks

Defining the terms ‘Fachdolmetscher’ and ‘Fachdolmetschen’

The method: Interpreting Enactments

    What are interpreting enactments?

    Ability to self-reflect and self-present, developing empathy

Structure and Contents of the Specialization Modules within the MA Translation at the Intercultural German Studies Department

    Module structure and content

 

Aims, objectives, approach

 

The method “interpreting enactments” is an integral part of the new specialization "Interpreting in medical, social and institutional fields" at the Department for Intercultural German Studies, Faculty of Translation Studies, Linguistics and Cultural Studies in Germersheim. The aim of the project is to adapt the method to the needs of the students and to try, test and further develop it in specialized interpreting courses.

The aims of the project are the following:

  • Accompanying the implementation and progress of the students through the collection of audio-visual data and via written documentation throughout the interpreting tutorials
  • Scientific evaluation and assessment of the documented material
  • Development and application of teaching and learning materials
  • Dissemination and publication of results
  • Organization of events, conferences and train-the-trainer seminars
  • Connecting to other fields in translation didactics in order to apply the method, e. g. in translator and conference interpreter training
  • Networking in order to apply/adapt the method in other fields of didactics

Interpreting enactments is a method for teaching interpreting rooted in the needs and conditions of multilingual societies. It was developed for the purpose of training community interpreters in medical, social and institutional settings with a special focus on the contexts and agents. The results of this project will hopefully allow the development of initial strategies for implementation of the method in the training of conference interpreters and (written) translators and in other relevant disciplines.

While interpreting was previously studied and taught as a mainly verbal/mental/intellectual activity in educational institutions, this method decidedly focuses on the body of the interpreter and the context of the interpretation: The emotional, non-verbal and irrational dimensions of communication as well as the social, cultural, political and personal factors that influence the interpreting performance are just as important as the verbal factors. In addition, the (self-)confident and ethical positioning of the interpreter is an integral part of the training All these factors are foregrounded in practical interpreting scenarios that are rehearsed in various phases of the enactment. The scenarios are not only discussed or dealt with ‘intellectually’ but ‘lived and experienced’ by all interaction partners.

Active participation of professionals from the future interpreters' lines of work (experts from the social, medical and institutional areas) is fundamental for implementation of interpreting enactments as a teaching and learning method. This ensures the close link of the enactments with the praxis outside the university. At the same time, professionals are sensitized for future collaboration with community interpreters. Both interpreting students and professionals work together to develop and enact realistic situations, to rehearse and discuss communication strategies and decision-making processes. Aside from specialist participation, team-teaching also plays a vital role. Cooperation between students, tutors, teachers and external professionals creates a flexible, dynamic and empowering training situation in which practice-oriented scenarios are developed, acted out, reflected upon and discussed. Interpreting enactments do not focus solely on simulation or role-playing in the traditional sense: The method can be seen as experimental and pedagogical theatre work, as the diverse facets of each scenario are prepared, rehearsed, modified, rehearsed again, performed, changed again etc. in the various phases of interpreting enactments. These include use of space and stage design (proxemic relations between all agents, but also between objects and actors), motions and movements, non-verbal communication factors (gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, body language), conversation dynamics, profiles of interaction partners as well as the individual stretches of speech and finally every single word that is (not) uttered in the scenario and is (not) interpreted.

This approach is nurtured by the interface between translation studies and ethnography, anthropology, sociology, theatre pedagogy and performance studies. ‘Performance competence’ and critical (self-)reflection are paramount to interpreting enactments. Interpreter-mediated interaction is considered an enactment while interpreters are considered dramatis personae in the social, cultural and political '(everyday) drama' of the interpretation. The method provides the framework for a complex and dynamic perception, description, assessment and finally implementation of the interpreter's role. In other words, a framework of teaching and analysing the interpreter's performance (in terms of performance studies).

Background of the method

Dr. Şebnem Bahadır has been developing the conceptual framework of the interpreting enactments method since the late 1990s. The method can be understood as a new emancipatory approach to interpreting pedagogy. During the initial phase, the method was tested in non-university qualification measures in which migrants were trained as linguistic and cultural mediators. Between 2002 and 2008, Bahadır successfully introduced the method at Istanbul's Boğaziçi University, where she used it to teach a "Community Interpreting" course for translators and interpreters. In the same period of time, she also taught block courses and gave lectures on interpreting in medical, social and institutional settings, thus introducing and presenting the method at other universities (e.g. in Austria, Finland, Ireland, Israel and Switzerland). In 2009, the interpreting enactments method was included in the course "Interpreting Skills", which is part of the academic training course "Interpreting in Healthcare". The training course, which is backed by the EU project "MedInt- Development of a curriculum for medical interpreters", was developed by representatives of various universities and medical-social institutions in Slovenia, Austria, Finland and Germany. The Faculty of Translation Studies, Linguistics and Cultural Studies was the project's German partner university (see also Interpreting enactments: setting, method and material and Body-and-Enactment-Centred Interpreting Pedagogy: Preliminary Thoughts on a Train-the-Trainers Concept for (Medical) Interpreting). Since 2012, the method is included into the curriculum of the SprInt Transfer project, which focuses on training community interpreters for educational, medical and social settings ("Qualifizierung zum/zur Sprach- und Integrationsmittler/-in im Bildungs-, Gesundheits- und Sozialwesen").

Community interpreting in the Intercultural German Studies Department

Interpreting in business and politics as well as cultural and social settings has fundamentally changed as a result of global migration. The demand for high-quality intercultural mediation in medical, social and legal lines of work within a society has risen considerably. The inadequacy of lay interpreters and semi-professional ad-hoc interpreters (e.g. children, family members, neighbours, speakers of the same language but also bilingual professionals and employees) in potentially conflict-laden situations is becoming more and more apparent both in practice and in research. Public awareness of the necessity for efficient interpreting, which is fundamental for removal of barriers for non-German speakers (or persons who have very little knowledge of German) to ensure adequate medical and social care, is rising. In order to enable people from different cultures to participate in social life and to enjoy equal rights, it is crucial that they are given access to professional and culturally sensitive interpretations.

The MA specialization "Interpreting in medical, social and institutional fields", which can be chosen as part of the new MA programme Translation (starting from winter semester 2013/2014) at the Faculty of Translation Studies, Linguistics and Cultural Studies of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germersheim, has been modelled to meet the demands of the political, social and professional changes described above. Thanks to our successful cooperation with the Ministry of Integration, Family Affairs, Children, Youth and Women of the Rhineland-Palatinate state, we were able to conduct a pilot scheme to test the course in the Intercultural German department in the 2012/2013 winter term. For more detailed information on the procedure and content of the course and the two elective modules, please consult the German department's website.

The project team

  Dr. phil. Şebnem Bahadır

Translation and interpreting researcher, translator, interpreter

  • B.A. in Translation studies and M.A. in English studies from Istanbul's Boğaziçi University. PhD in translation studies at Heidelberg University.
  • From 2000-2008, lecturer at Boğaziçi University Istanbul.
  • Research assistant and lecturer in the Intercultural German Studies Department, FTSK Germersheim.
  • Training, seminars and workshops at non-German universities and in non-university qualification courses for migrants in Germany and Switzerland. Publications: Verknüpfungen und Verschiebungen. Dolmetscherin, Dolmetschforscherin, Dolmetschausbilderin (2007), Dolmetschinszenierungen. Kulturen, Identitäten, Akteure (2010).
    Specialization in research and teaching: Development of innovative and interdisciplinary approaches for translation didactics; politics and ethics of translation; identity, roles and professionalisation of interpreters.

Responsibility within the project: management, teaching
Contact: bahadir@uni-mainz.de

   
  Liliana Bizama

Romance philologist, lecturer, foreign language teacher

  • M.A. in Romance languages and literature at Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
  • Lecturer for Hispanic and Latin America studies at Bochum University of Applied Sciences, Witten/Herdecke University, Karlshochschule International University Karlsruhe and FTSK Germersheim.
  • Work experience in intercultural communication, employment services, social pedagogy and cultural mediation (Germany, Chile, Spain, France).
    Publications: Quién, qué, cómo, cuándo? - Das Spanien-Quiz (2005), Las ciudades de agua/Die Wasserstädte (Übersetzung, Hrsg, 2012), Viaje a la Araucanía (2013).
    Specialisation in teaching: Distinctive features of the Spanish language. Languages, cultures and literature in Latin America.

Responsibility within the project: coordination, public relations.
Contact: bizama@uni-mainz.de

   
  Ivana Calciano

Translator, interpreter

  • B.A. in language instruction for Perugia and Tübingen universities’ general management and a Master's degree in language, culture and translation from FTSK Germersheim (Mainz University).
  • Doctoral candidate in translation studies in the Intercultural German department, FTSK Germersheim.
    Specialisation in research: translation theory, news translation, journalism, political aspects of translation.

Responsibility within the project: public relations, web presence.
Contact: icalcian@students.uni-mainz.de

   
  Anna Hermann

Translator, community and conference interpreter, trainer

  • Former student of translation and interpreting in Riga and Germersheim.
  • Interpreter trainer as part of the education of language and integration mediators (Wuppertal Deaconry’s SprInt Transfer project, which focuses on training community interpreters for educational, medical and social situations) since 2010
  • Teacher of simultaneous and consecutive interpreting English-Russian and community interpreting German-Russian at FTSK Germersheim.

Responsibility within the project: teaching
Contact: boguna@competent-translation.com

   
  Miriam Hocine-Bacha

Translator, interpreter

  • Former student of German language, culture and literature at Algiers university and of translation at FTSK Germersheim. 

Responsibility within the project: teaching
Contact: hocineba@uni-mainz.de

   
  Yasmine Khaled

Translator, community and conference interpreter, trainer

  • Former student of translation and interpreting at FTSK Germersheim and Salford University.
  • Holder of DAAD-scholarship for particularly gifted, non-German graduates of German schools abroad and of a Mainz University scholarship for doctoral candidates.
  • Doctoral candidate in the Intercultural German department, FTSK Germersheim.
  • Interpreter trainer as part of the education of language and integration mediators (Wuppertal Deaconry’s SprInt Transfer project, which focuses on training community interpreters for educational, medical and social situations) since 2011.
    Specialisation in research and teaching: interpreting in legal and (psycho)social settings, translational action, intercultural interaction, methods of qualitative research.

Responsibility within the project: teaching
Contact: ykhaled@uni-mainz.de

   
  Birsen Serinkoz

Translator, interpreter, trainer

  • B.A. in foreign language pedagogy with a major in German at Istanbul University's Faculty of Education. M.A. in language, culture, translation at FTSK Germersheim.
  • Interpreter trainer as part of the education of language and integration mediators (Wuppertal Deaconry’s SprInt Transfer project, which focuses on training community interpreters for educational, medical and social situations) since 2010.

Responsibility within the project: networking, teaching.
Contact: bserinko@students.uni-mainz.de

   
  Julia Yakushova

Translator and conference interpreter

  • B.A. in German language, culture and literature from the Uzbek State University of World Languages, Master's degrees in language, culture and translation and in conference interpreting from FTSK Germersheim (Mainz University).
  • Holder of an international scholarship for M.A. students (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung).
  • Trainee/intern as part of the education of language and integration mediators (Wuppertal Deaconry’s SprInt Transfer project, which focuses on training community interpreters for educational, medical and social situations) since March 2013.

Responsibility within the project: teaching, technical support.
Contact: yakushov@students.uni-mainz.de

 

Sponsors - Cooperation partners - Networks

Sponsors

Ministry of Integration, Family Affairs, Children, Youth and Women of the Rhineland-Palatinate state

The ministry supported the development of this new area of specialisation by financing lecturers and trainers on a limited basis as well as by delegating professionals from relevant institutions (2012-2013).

Gutenberg Teaching Council, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

The teaching project "Interpreting enactments – a new critical and emancipatory approach in interpreting didactics" is supported by the Gutenberg Teaching Council. It is one of the four winning projects originating from a 2013 call for projects under the heading ‘competence oriented teaching and learning’.

Defining the terms ‘Fachdolmetscher’ and ‘Fachdolmetschen’

The German term FachdolmetscherIn, community interpreter in reference to various areas of specialisation (medical/social/legal) was put forward by Bahadir+Dizdar in 2000 as designation for professional interpreters in medical, social, institutional and legal settings. The aim was to create a clear distinction between professional interpreting and both the ‘natural interpreting’ carried out by migrant children and lay interpreting in general. The corresponding part of Bahadir+Dizdar’s position paper and further information regarding the first workshop nterpreting in the medical and social areas: Designing a professional profile for the German-speaking countries?on 5 February 2000 at Faculty 06 in Germersheim can be found in Bahadir 2000. Finding an adequate designation for this type of interpreting still poses a problem today, and not only in Germany. In the English-speaking world, terms such as community interpreting, cultural interpreting, dialogue interpreting, liaison interpreting and public service interpreting are widely used. From these terms, community interpreting seems to have established itself above the others. Yet this term still often carries the old stigma of lay interpreting in migrant contexts. In the German-speaking world, Austria has by and large decided on the term Kommunaldolmetschen (literally: communal interpreting), whereas Switzerland initially chose interkulturelles Übersetzen (intercultural translation), which has, however, recently been modified to interkulturelles Dolmetschen (intercultural interpreting).

Community interpreting in medical, social and legal contexts for people of different cultures is, ethically speaking, a highly complex operation. Power imbalance is a vital characteristics of the communication dynamics in these settings. More conventional skills such as language skills, cultural skills, interpreting techniques and strategies and intercultural communication skills remain highly relevant for community interpreters. However, psychosocial competence is also key i.e. the culturally sensitive, responsible, problem-conscious and reflective handling of ethically and politically charged interactions and emotional, conflict-laden situations. Community interpreters are aware that, in their line of work, they are not merely observers of or witnesses to an extreme power imbalance, but rather that they themselves (can) also become part of this power imbalance. By accepting this distinct position as a ‘third party’, a ‘lone intermediary’, an ‘expert of the in-between space’, the interpreter can combine professional and ethical demands for neutrality/impartiality with empathy.

The naming problem derives from the diversity of possible assignments as well as the complexity and inherent ambivalences of the interpreter’s role. ‘Social’, ‘medical’ and ‘institutional’ settings are diverse and difficult to categorize. Researchers, instructors and actual interpreters are, time and again, faced with the question of whether their work is ‘only’, ‘more than’, or ‘real’ interpreting. Most people do not recognize that the real problem lies in the widespread belief of what the interpreting profession really involves and the subsequent definition of the term ‘interpreting’. Non-academic projects have preferred to use the terms Sprachmittlung (language mediation) and/or Kulturmittlung (cultural mediation) for many years. For a long time, this had a calming effect on everyone involved: for interpreting studies and interpreter training, the mediation in these areas (if it was even noticed at all) was considered to be either more or less than (but in no way ‘real’) interpreting. It was more a form of assistance in social or medical consulting. This categorisation seemed to accommodate most non-academic measures. With few exceptions, in short-term and low-threshold qualifications with predominantly trainees whose German skills were insufficient for interpreting, participants could not and were not supposed to be trained as real interpreters. They were to become ‘merely’ linguistic and cultural mediators. And yet they are supposed to do ‘more’ than interpreters. They must clarify and communicate cultural misunderstandings. And thus the question ‘what is interpreting?’ is joined by the question ‘what is mediation?’, which is somewhat neglected both on the level of migrant projects and interpreting research.

In recent years, this paradoxical, mutual perception has changed. Interpreting research is now more concerned with community interpreting and lay interpreting. It is because of interpreting in migrant settings that, in light of the ‘dead-end’ state of conference interpreting research, renowned researchers are dedicating themselves either to interpreting as a single phenomenon consisting of its many different forms or to community interpreting/Fachdolmetschen per se. At academic training institutions for interpreting and translation, community interpreting is discussed more and more often. It is sometimes integrated into theoretical seminars and is already offered as a specialisation at a small number of universities. Cooperation has arisen between non-academic qualification projects and academic training institutions for translators. Establishing quality standards for the training of community interpreters is an important aspect of this cooperation.

The method: Interpreting Enactments

“The task of a professional translator does not begin with interpreting and/or translation in the strictest sense of the word, nor does it end with the last word that he speaks into the microphone or inputs into a computer or prints.”

Hans J. Vermeer  
(Die Welt, in der wir übersetzen. Drei translatologische Überlegungen zu Realität,Vergleich und Prozess. 1996, S. 117)

 

 

 

 

 

“The human being not only 'makes' theatre: s/he 'is' theatre.”

 

 

 

Augusto Boal  

(Der Regenbogen der Wünsche. Methoden aus Theater und Therapie. 1999, S. 117

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are interpreting enactments?

Interpreting enactments can be regarded as an alternative to conventional interpreting exercises. The method revolves around the creation, development, testing and performing of interpreting situations and interpreter roles. In practice, the interpreting enactments method is a form of pedagogical theatre work. The word or silence that is to be/can be interpreted (or not) is just as much a focal point as the community interpreter’s professional and political positioning when in contact with other specialists, or the client’s culturally-influenced way of speaking and conduct, or psycho-emotional factors in the communication situation.

In interpreting enactments, students assume three roles: They are participant observers (with the task of writing participant observer reports about the other students’ performances), actors or actresses (with the task of playing the role of interpreter, but also the specialist and migrant/client) and directors (with the task of critically reflecting upon, evaluating and, if necessary, modifying their own performance and that of the other students). Training begins by raising awareness of non-verbal elements of communication. Alongside aspects of language, cultural and professional skills, the ability to make decisions in context-dependent freedom and to take ‘performative’ (in the sense of a conscious and public act of performance) responsibility for any interpreting act is becoming more and more important.

Ability to self-reflect and self-present, developing empathy

In this teaching and learning method, it is assumed that interpreters participate in interpreting situations as people with their whole body and emotions, and not just their intellectual abilities. An interpreter is present as a body and as an individual with different levels of identity i.e. as a person with one or more cultures, with their individual life story and different experiences that cannot simply be ‘switched on and off’. Professional behaviour and distancing techniques for emotional involvement can only be developed if interpreters first accept the fact that they are subjective, visible and present, and that they will become involved time and again. 

The paradox of moving between proximity and distance when interpreting is the most fundamental characteristic of the interpreter’s role. The ambivalence and considerable unpredictability of interpreting scenarios mean that interpreter education should prepare budding interpreters for the unexpected. Contrary to traditional approaches to interpreting education which bring routine/routinization to the fore, students in interpreting enactments learn to stay ‘awake’ and flexible – for their whole lives, if possible. Every interpreting scenario is new and different, just like every interpreter. Every interpreter is different in every interpreting scenario. At the very beginning of every interpreter-mediated communication situation, the interpreter is always initially a stranger and an intruder.

Community interpreters must be equipped for critical situations that could potentially put strain on them emotionally, physically and intellectually. There are no definitive solutions and strict formulae. To deal with this ambivalence creatively, community interpreters require the ability to self-present and (self-)reflect. By working on various interpreter-mediated situations together and enacting them repeatedly and regularly, the students learn to deal with the different roles involved and how to place themselves in these other roles. Only through a (self-)reflexive approach to themselves and others can students learn to develop empathy. In this respect, the interpreting enactments method stands for experience-based, student-centric, participant-oriented teaching and learning.

Structure and Contents of the Specialization Modules within the MA Translation at the Intercultural German Studies Department

For this specialisation professional interpreting in social, medical and institutional settings takes centre stage. Conversations between professionals and lay people in institutional contexts such as hospitals, administrative offices, counselling centres and schools are characterized by a strong power imbalance. When a client/patient with limited German proficiency is present, this imbalance can be amplified even further. Alongside the linguistic particularities of specialized communication, emotions and body language also play an important role. The social, cultural and political context of a medical admission consultation, patient briefing and/or treatment consultation, a socio-pedagogical consultation or a police interrogation significantly influences the working conditions, positioning and performance of the community interpreter as a ‘specialist in intercultural communication and mediation’.

With their behaviour and translational actions, community interpreters are right at the centre of events and actively take part in shaping a professional discussion. Such a visible and active mediatory role demands a more dynamic and flexible understanding of ethics and responsibility. As a result, the practical teaching sections focus on the problem oriented, culturally sensitive, (self-)reflexive and ethical capabilities of the community interpreter. Working with the interpreting enactments method means both students and teachers do not have to limit themselves to the verbal aspects of specialised communication – they can also capture the body language and emotional aspects of the communication situation. Another distinctive feature of this holistic approach is the active inclusion of professionals in both teaching and joint development and enactment of realistic interpreting scenarios. Students who wish to select this course specialisation are recommended to choose an additional elective module including an internship of more than 300 hours. This internship can take place at a cooperating institution following completion of the specialisation. Additional information regarding cooperating institutions and the dovetailing between teaching content and practical interpreting experience can be found on the ‘interpreting enactments’ teaching project web page.

With regard to content, the elective modules "Community Interpreting 1 (German): Basics" and "Community Interpreting 2 (German): Advanced" complement and build on each other and can only be studied consecutively. The first module always takes place in the winter semester and the second in the summer semester.

Module structure and content

Elective module "Community Interpreting 1 (German): Basics" 

a) Community Interpreting 1 Seminar
b) Community Interpreting 2 Seminar (with integrated practical sections)

Aims

Following the successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • analyse an interpreter’s field of work based on intercultural comparisons
  • look critically at the role(s) and occupational images/status of community interpreters in international comparison
  • apply theories, models and approaches to community interpreting within Translation Studies
  • observe, analyse, critically evaluate and modify strategies for professional action in various situations, work on interpreting situations, shape interpreting enactments and compile reports of the participant observation

Elective module "Community Interpreting 2 (German): Advanced”

a) Community interpreting Practical Tutorial 1 (language pair independent)
b) Community interpreting Practical Tutorial 2 (language pair specific)
c) Community interpreting Seminar 3

Aims

Following the successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • develop, observe, analyse, critically evaluate and optimise strategies for professional action and behaviour as community interpreters in various situations
  • analyse and critically evaluate different approaches to professionalization of and training for community interpreters
  • develop culturally sensitive, professional and situation-specific interpreting strategies and techniques
  • interpret in various interpreting situations, scientifically describe, analyse and critically evaluate their own interpreting performance and ethical, political, psychosocial and legal aspects of practical situations.