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Six Phases in Teaching Interpretation


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Six Phases in Teaching Interpretation as a Subject at Universities and Colleges in Indonesia

Izak Morin photo Abstract

This article discusses six phases in teaching interpreting in a classroom atmosphere using semi-authentic and authentic teaching materials to bring the students close to both English and Indonesian real-life environments and exposed to different discourse genres and different English dialects and accents. Phases 1 and 2 are warm-up activities for preparing students to move up to phases 3 and 4. Up to this level students are exposed to a semi-real life situation where they are listening to different English native speaker dialects and non-native speaker accents through the prepared tapes/CDs and VCDs and they are also listening to different Indonesian discourse genres. The last two phases are the most challenging ones for the students because each student will demonstrate his/her strategies and capabilities in performing an interpreting work in a set-up real-life situation using electronic devices.

1. Introduction

The Department of National Education of Indonesia has put 'Translation Theory' in the higher education curriculum as a compulsory subject taught at all English Programs in universities and colleges in Indonesia. However, Interpreting is only one side of the same coin; therefore most universities and colleges teach it alongside with Translation Theory as an additional subject. Interpreting, basically, is a process of transferring the meaning of the source language into the receptor language in a verbal way. This process may only occur when someone acts as an interpreter to transfer the meaning of a message directly from the mouth of a speaker, from a tape player, from a radio, from a CD/VCD player, from a television, or from other sources of verbal messages in a source language to a listener or an audience of a receptor language.

In order to perform such a challenging job professionally and responsibly, a person has to have an adequate understanding of the source language and an adequate command of the receptor language in their linguistic and non-linguistic aspects. Such capabilities can be acquired consciously and unconsciously through a process of learning, training, and experiencing in a formal learning-teaching classroom, in a set-up situation, and in a real-life situation. For a formal learning-teaching classroom I would like to present the six phases in teaching interpretation as a subject at my university and universities and colleges in Indonesia.

2. Discourse Genre

One of the first things the students have to know is how to identify the discourse genre of the talk to be interpreted. There are seven basic contrasting genres that will be discussed: narrative, procedural, expository, hortatory, descriptive, repartee, and dialogue. The differences between these genres can be best seen by thinking of the purpose of the speaker. The following descriptions are quoted and adapted from 'Meaning-Based Translation' pp 365-381 by Mildred L. Larson.

(a) The purpose of a narrative discourse is to recount events, usually in the past. The backbone of the narrative is a series of events which are usually actions. The agent of the events is usually Third Person or First Person, that is, the speaker tells about the things which happened to someone else or to himself.

(b) The purpose of a procedural discourse is to prescribe, to give the steps on how to do something. It consists of a sequentially related series of steps within each procedure. The agent is not usually specified, and it is characteristic of procedural discourse that most of the actions will have an affected

(c) The purpose of an expository discourse is to explain or to argue. The non-chronological communication relations (orientation, clarification, logic) are typical of expository discourse. It consists of information logically related to a theme.

(d) The purpose of a descriptive discourse is to describe. It is not basically chronological; instead, a topic is developed.

(e) The purpose of a hortatory discourse is to propose, suggest, or command. The backbone of the structure is a series of actions which are commands. The second person agent throughout is characteristic of this genre. Like the expository discourse, the non-chronological communication relations are also typical of this genre.

(f) The purpose of a repartee discourse is to recount speech exchanges. The structure is that of a series of speech exchanges. Each speech is a small discourse, however, these small discourses are related to one another. The content of the exchanges may be narrative, expository, hortatory, procedural, or even dialogue if the speaker is recounting another set of speech exchanges.

(g) Dialogue discourse is a combination of narrative and repartee. The purpose is to recount events, usually in the past, as for narrative. The difference is that many of those events are speech events; that is, there is a repartee structure also

3. Features of Each Phase

Each phase consists of three parts, first, teacher's or students' preparation outside the classroom. Either the teacher or the student must prepare in advance written texts and verbal scripts for presentation as well as supporting electronic devices such as a laptop computer, a projector (LCD) set, a tape/cassette player, a CD/VCD player, an OHP, a radio, a television set, and a tape/cassette recorder. Second, preparation in the classroom before the presentation / the broadcasting. Before a presentation the teacher or the student has to make sure that everything is in place and in good condition to start. Third, interpreting practice. This is a learning, training, and experiencing part in which each student must fully participate. There are two sections in this part: interpreting from English into Indonesian and interpreting from Indonesian into English.

In Phase One the teacher acts as a speaker and a selected student as an interpreter, whereas in Phase Two each student plays a double role as a speaker and as an interpreter. In Phase Two there are two activities: (a) interpreting a talk from a set-up formal table; and (b) interpreting a speech from a podium. Materials are selected from descriptive and expository discourses for both phases either in English or in Indonesian.

In Phase Three each student is assigned to interpret a message directly from a speaker in a tape/cassette or in a CD. Both English and Indonesian recording materials are selected from narrative, repartee, and dialogue discourses. Apart from the main English dialects spoken in Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, and Canada, English accents heard in Asia, the Pacific area, Africa, the Middle-East, and Europe are taken into account when selecting the materials.

In Phase Four each student has a turn to interpret a message directly from a speaker in a VCD viewed through a TV monitor or through a projector (LCD) larger screen. Hortatory and procedural discourses are selected for interpreting purposes in this phase. English dialects and accents are also considered when selecting the materials.

For Phase Five and Phase Six all discourse genres are no longer practiced in a regular order as done in the previous phases because these are direct broadcastings, not recorded, so it is impossible to predict what kind of genre comes out first and which one is the next and so on (This is a spontaneous talk or a real-life talk). Each student has to interpret directly from radio and TV announcers by making a note of the main points. Each broadcasting is recorded for replay later on for further discussion and feedback purposes. Radio and TV broadcastings are selected from Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Voice of America (VOA) for radio and CNN for television.

4. Six Phases To Teach Interpreting

In order to build an interpreting capacity regarding skill, knowledge, and experience for the students, the six phases below are strongly recommended. These phases are intentionally designed to offer various exercises from the easiest to the most challenging ones. However, before each phase is begun, a teacher has to have in mind the following: (a) an interpreting class should be a group of at least ten with a different teaching schedules. By having this small number, each student has time to learn, practice, and experience interpreting during the class session. But, such a division totally depends on the number of students applying for the course and the available time a teacher may have; (b) in Phase One each student has to perform twice as an interpreter either from English into Indonesian or from Indonesian into English. In Phase Two A each student has to perform four times : twice as a speaker and twice as an interpreter from a well-arranged table, while in Phase Two B each student has to deliver two speeches from a podium as a speaker; one is in English and another is in Indonesian; he must also perform two interpreting jobs in English and in Indonesian. For Phases Three, Four, Five, and Six each student only acts as an interpreter twice in each; (c) First Person Singular Personal Pronoun 'I' in English and 'Saya' in Indonesian are used in Phase One, Phase Two, Phase Three, and Phase Four because the interpretation is conducted after each short statement conveyed throughout the presentation, whereas the Third Person Personal Pronoun 'He', 'She', and titles and names such as 'Mr.X', 'Mrs.Y', 'Ms.Z, Dr. John, Professor Jane in English and 'Beliau', 'Ia', 'Dia', and titles and names such as 'Bapak X', 'Ibu Y', Dr. Mansoben, Profesor Kambuaya in Indonesian are used in Phase Five and Phase Six because the interpretation is made in the form of a summary or note-taking of the main points right after a long talk. The common phrases used are Mr. X said that... Profesor Jane concluded that.... Bapak X mengatakan bahwa..... Profesor Kambuaya menyimpulkan bahwa....etc.

PHASE-ONE: Teacher — Student acting as Speaker — Interpreter

1. Teacher's preparation outside the classroom

    1. Teacher prepares twenty topics of discussion in descriptive discourse. One-half are in English and the other half are in Indonesian. S/he may use some selected slides to support the presentation.

2. Preparation in the classroom before the presentation

    1. A table with two chairs are well arranged in front of the class.
    2. A unit of computer and a projector set are well set up in the class
    3. The first five students are randomly selected for the first session. Each student spends 5-10 minutes to practice including the teacher's and peers' comments.
    4. The students are told to give comments and raise questions after the talk. This practice is conducted in the form of Presentation-Discussion.
    5. The students are told to follow the process of interpreting in this practice such as Speaking: presentation (by the teacher) à Interpreting (by the student) à Speaking: comments and questions (by the students as audience) à Interpreting (by the student) à Speaking: responses to the comments and questions from the audience (by the teacher) à Interpreting (by the student).
    6. An assessment sheet is distributed to each student to assess the performance of their peer.

3. Interpreting Practice ( the first 10 topics in descriptive form are from English into Indonesian and the next 10 topics are in the opposite direcction)

    1. Teacher speaks on a particular topic in English / Indonesian
    2. Student interprets into Indonesian / English
    3. The rest of the students listen, fill in the assessment sheet, and note down things to give comments and questions on in Indonesian / English.
    4. Teacher and the students give comments on the student's performance regarding strategies and language use.

PHASE-TWO (A): Student — Student acting as Speaker — Interpreter (giving a presentation from a formally set up table)

1. Student's preparation outside the classroom.

    1. Students are assigned to prepare two topics of discussion one is in English and the other is in Indonesian. Both are expository (argumentative) discourses.

2. Preparation in the classroom before the presentation.

    1. A table with two chairs are well arranged in front of the class
    2. The students are told to form pairs. Each pair spends 5-10 minutes to practice including the teacher's and peers' comments.
    3. The students are told to give comments and raise questions after the talk. This practice is conducted in the form of Presentation-Discussion.
    4. The students are told to follow the process of interpreting in this practice such as Speaking: presentation (by the student speaker) à Interpreting (by the student interpreter) à Speaking: comments and questions (by the students audience) à Interpreting (by the student interpreter) à Speaking: responses to the comments and questions from the audience (by the student speaker) à Interpreting (by the student interpreter).
    5. An assessment sheet is distributed to each student to assess the performance of their peer.

3. Interpreting Practice (the first 10 topics in expository (argumentative) form are from English into Indonesian and the next 10 topics are in the opposite direction)

    1. Student speaker speaks on a particular topic in English / Indonesian
    2. Student interpreter interprets into Indonesian / English
    3. The rest of the students listen, fill in the assessment sheet, note down things to give comments and questions in Indonesian / English
    4. Teacher and the students give comments on the student interpreter's performance regarding strategies and language use.

PHASE-TWO (B): Student — Student acting as Speaker — Interpreter (standing on a podium and delivering a speech )

1. Student's preparation outside the classroom.

    1. Students are assigned to prepare two speeches one is in English and the other is in Indonesian. Both are expository (argumentative) discourses.

2. Preparation in the classroom before the speech delivery.

    1. A podium is well arranged in front of the class if available.
    2. The students are told to form pairs. Each pair spends 5-10 minutes to practice including the teacher's and peers' comments.
    3. The students are told to give comments on their peers' performance after the speech. This practice is conducted in the form of 'Lecturing' (one-way communication)
    4. The students are told to follow the process of interpreting in this practice such as Speaking: speech delivering (by the student speaker) à Interpreting (by the student interpreter).
    5. An assessment sheet is distributed to each student to assess the performance of their peer.

3. Interpreting Practice (the first speech is in English and the second is in Indonesian)

    1. Student speaker gives a speech on a particular topic in English / Indonesian
    2. Student interpreter interprets into Indonesian / English
    3. The rest of the students listen, fill in the assessment sheet, and note down particular things to comment on.
    4. Teacher and students give comments on the student interpreter performance regarding strategies and language use.

PHASE-THREE: Tape Player / CD Player — Student acting as Speaker — Interpreter

1. Teacher's preparation outside the classroom.

    1. Teacher selects particular short talks both in English and in Indonesian from various recordings. All are narrative, repartee, and dialogue discourses
    2. Teacher plays the tapes / CDs to ensure they are in good condition
    3. Teacher copies or records the selected topics from different tapes / CDs into a new tape / CD
    4. Teacher checks and tests the tape player / the CD player

2. Preparation in the classroom before the presentation

    1. A table with a chair is well arranged in front of the class
    2. A tape player / CD player is put on the table and it is reachable for the teacher to operate.
    3. The students are told to give comments on their peers' performance after the talk. This practice is conducted in the form of 'Talk' or 'Lecturing' (one way communication)
    4. The students are told to follow the process of interpreting in this practice such as Speaking: presentation (through the tape player / the CD player) à Interpreting (by the student).
    5. An assessment sheet is distributed to each student to assess the performance of their peer.

3. Interpreting Practice (the first part is from English into Indonesian and the second part is in the opposite direction)

    1. Teacher plays the tape / the CD of an English / Indonesian short talk with a pause each time to give the student a chance to interpret
    2. Student interprets into Indonesian / English
    3. The rest of the students listen, fill in the assessment sheet, and note down particular things to comment on.
    4. Teacher and the students give comments on the student interpreter performance regarding strategies and language use.
    5. Teacher replays the tape / the CD to check the language used for a discussion and correction purpose.

PHASE-FOUR: VCD player — Student acting as Speaker — Interpreter

Teacher's preparation outside the classroom.

    1. Teacher selects particular short talks both in English and in Indonesian from the VCDs stored in the library / resource center or if permitted records from / through any websites. All are hortatory and procedural discourses.
    2. Teacher plays the VCDs to ensure they are in good condition
    3. Teacher makes a copy of the selected topics from different VCDs into a new VCD
    4. Teacher checks and tests the VCD player set or built-in VCD player in the portable computer
    5. Teacher tests the TV monitor or the projector (LCD) set and a screen

Preparation in the classroom before the presentation

    1. A table with two chairs are well arranged in front of the class
    2. A VCD player and a TV monitor or a projector are well-arranged and they are reachable for the teacher to operate.
    3. The students are told to form pairs. Each pair (one interprets the interviewer's talk and the other one interprets the interviewee's) spends 5-10 minutes to practice.
    4. The students are told to give comments on their peers' performance after the talk. This is conducted in the form of 'Interactive Talk'
    5. The students are told to follow the process of interpreting in this practice such as Speaking: presentation (through VCD player) à Interpreting (by a pair of students).
    6. An assessment sheet is distributed to each student to assess the performance of their peer.

Interpreting Practice (the first part is from English into Indonesian)

    1. Teacher plays the VCD on an English / Indonesian talk with a pause each time to give chance to the student to interpret.
    2. Student interprets into Indonesian / English
    3. The rest of the students listen, fill in the assessment sheet, and note down particular things to comment on.
    4. Teacher and the students give comments on the student performance regarding strategies and language use.
    5. Teacher replays the VCD to check the language used for a discussion and correction purposes.

PHASE-FIVE: Radio — Student acting as Speaker — Interpreter

1. Teacher's preparation outside the classroom.

    1. Teacher checks the condition of the radio and tests its sound quality
    2. Teacher prepares a blank tape to record the news and other programs broadcasted during the class for a discussion and feedback purpose

2. Preparation in the classroom before the radio broadcasting

    1. A table with a chair is well arranged in front of the class
    2. A radio and a tape recorder with a blank tape in it to record the news and other programs are well arranged and are reachable for the teacher to operate.
    3. All students are told make notes of the main points of the news or talks from the radio programs and do the interpreting afterwards. Each student spends 5-10 minutes to do the job. The teacher and the peers also provide comments and questions.
    4. The students are told to follow the process of interpreting in this practice such as Speaking: presentation (through radio) à Interpreting (by each student in the way of noting down the main points or making a summary) à Conveying (by the student) the message based on the points or a summary made.
    5. An assessment sheet is distributed to each student to assess the performance of their peer.

3. Interpreting Practice (first part is from English into Indonesian)

    1. Teacher switches on the radio on an English / Indonesian news or talk show and presses the recording button at the same time
    2. Each student interprets into Indonesian / English by making a note of the main points or making a summary on a piece of paper
    3. Each student is randomly selected to speak to the class by elaborating on the main points written down.
    4. The rest of the students listen, fill in the assessment sheet, and make notes of particular things to comment on.
    5. Teacher and the students give comments on the student interpreter performance regarding strategies and language use.
    6. Teacher plays the recording to check the language used for a discussion and correction purpose.

PHASE-SIX: TV News Broadcasting — Student acting as Speaker — Interpreter

Teacher's preparation outside the classroom.

    1. Teacher checks the condition of the TV set
    2. Teacher prepares a blank VCD to record the news or other programs for a discussion and feedback purpose

Preparation in the classroom before the broadcasting

    1. A table with a chair is well arranged in front of the class
    2. A ready-to-switch-on TV set and a blank VCD in the player to record the news program are well arranged and are reachable for the teacher to operate.
    3. All students are asked to make note of the main points of the news or talks from the TV programs. Each student spends 3-5 minutes to retell, from his notes, the points in the receptor language.
    4. The students are told to follow the process of interpreting in this practice such as Speaking: presentation (through TV) à Interpreting (by each student in the way of making note of the main points or making a summary) à Conveying (by the student) the message based on the points or a summary made.
    5. An assessment sheet is distributed to each student to assess the performance of their peer.

Interpreting Practice (the first part is from English into Indonesian)

    1. Teacher switches on TV on an English / Indonesian news and other intended programs then presses the recording button on the VCD player at the same time
    2. Student interprets into Indonesian / English by making note of the main points or making a summary on a piece of paper.
    3. Each student is randomly selected to speak to the class by elaborating on the main points written down with a support of a replay recording.
    4. The rest of the students listen, fill in the assessment sheet, and note down particular things to comment on.
    5. Teacher gives comments on the student interpreter performance regarding strategies and language use.

5. Assessment On Students' Performance

Students do not sit for a final exam like for most other subjects. Each student is assessed during his/her performance in the classroom throughout the semester. It is an on-going assessment. Each time a student performs a task, s/he is assessed by both teacher and peers using a designed assessment format as shown below.

Interpretation

Assessment Sheet

Date : _______________________________________

Name of Student Assesses : _______________________________________

Topic/Title/Theme : _______________________________________

Text-Type : _______________________________________

No

Items

Scores

1

Accuracy

1 2 3 4

2

Clarity

1 2 3 4

3

Fluency

1 2 3 4

4

Eye Contact

1 2 3 4

5

Self-Confidence

1 2 3 4

 

Total

 

This format is distributed to the students before an interpretation is done and, after the class, the filled-in assessment sheets are collected and the teacher summarizes the result and makes a copy for the students who perform a task in order to keep in their own portfolio as a performance record. Teacher also keeps the same assessment format in each student's file for his/her final assessment at the end of the semester.

Each student is told on how to assess a peer's performance in the classroom. The following are the descriptions of assessed items and a grading system used:

Assessed Items

Accuracy : - pronounce each word correctly using right stress and intonation;

- use good grammatical structures with correct tenses;

- choose appropriate words relevant to the topic;

Clarity : - talk loudly with a clear voice;

- convey a meaning in a clear and natural way;

- use appropriate communicative body language to make a meaning clear and understandable;

- improvise a message correctly

Fluency : - express the meaning easily with a normal speed, no hesitation and no excessively long pauses;

- convey the message smoothly using familiar concepts, examples, and other matters relevant to the topic;

Eye-Contact : - maintain eye-contact with the audience by looking across the whole class;

Self-Confidence : - convey the correct meaning with full confidence and no hesitation;

- talk confidently even when a mistake was made regarding the meaning, the grammatical structures and tenses, and word choices.


Grading Systems

Excellent 4 A 80 - 100

Good 3 B 70 - 79

Fair 2 C 60 - 69

Poor 1 D 50 - 59

Fail 0 E < 50


6. Summary

Interpreting is a language skill that a student can acquire consciously or unconsciously through an intensive process of learning, training, and experiencing in a formal classroom, in a set-up situation, or in a real-life situation. Six phases in teaching interpreting are designed intentionally to assist the students to be skillful prospective interpreters after graduation. The six phases benefit the students in some ways: (a) students are trained to be familiar with different English dialects and accents; (b) students are trained to be anticipative with different idiolects both in English and in Indonesian; (c) students are exposed to different genres both in English and in Indonesian; (d) students are trained to be familiar with human voices and the normal speed of speakers from a tape/cassette player, a CD/VCD player, a radio, and a television; (e) students are trained to make quick decisions on what to omit and what to convey only by hearing without looking at the speaker and/or by hearing and looking at the speaker and supporting background pictures; (f) students are trained to be quick and skillful writers in writing a summary of the main points from both radio and television broadcastings; (g) students are trained to improvise and speak from the main points written down; (h) students are trained to keep the Short-Term Memory system in their brain working properly; (i) students are trained to keep their self-confidence in front of the audience; (j) students are trained to keep their eye-contact with the audience; and (k) students are trained to judge and give comments on an interpreting performance.

 

References

Dulay, H., M. Burt & S. Krasen. 1992. Language Two. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Ellis, Rod. 1997. Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Larsen-Freeman, Diane. 2000. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching.

Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Larson, Mildred L. 1984. Meaning-Based Translation: A Guide to Cross-Language

Equivalence. Lanham: University Press of America, Inc.

 









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