Monday, February 15, 2016

Young Interpreters Again

I always await the latest Hampshire EMTAS bulletin eagerly. EMTAS, in case you don't know, runs a Young Interpreter Scheme (YI) that provides support to school pupils who are learning English as an Additional Language. Hampshire is a county in southern England, but the scheme has spread beyond it.
"It recognises the huge potential that exists within each school community for pupils of all ages to use their skills and knowledge to support new learners of English so that they feel safe and valued from the start. Young interpreters undergo specific training to prepare for this role and are selected on the basis of different personal qualities."
Most of them are bilingual, and there is an assumption that if they are bilingual they can translate. Note that YI does not replace the need for professional adult interpreters. Guidance is given on the situations where it is not appropriate to turn to YI.

YI and its indefatigable coordinator Astrid Dinneen have been given honourable mentions several times before on this blog. To find the posts, enter emtas in the Search box on the right.

The latest issue of the bulletin is as interesting as ever. Its lead article is not from the UK but from far away Jordan, where the International Community School (ICS) is the first to have set up the scheme outside the UK. What is most striking about it is the children's testimonials of motivation and satisfaction. For example:
"I am from Korea. I am proud of myself to be a Young Interpreter. I like to be an interpreter because some of the new students can be friends with me. One of the new kids that came to our school is my best friend now. It is a really good idea to have a Young Interpreter in a school because we can communicate well with the new children. We can know about them and whenever they need help we can help them. So the new kid whenever the teacher needs translation I will go and help him. So I like to be a Young Interpreter."
This is all very good. I do, however, have a couple of caveats.

1. The bulletin records successes and expansions; it doesn't tell us about setbacks or withdrawals. It seems unlikely that in such a large and varied body of children there aren't a few who find the interpreting task too difficult of frightening, and we would like to know why (personal reasons? institutional reasons?) and what can be done to help them.

2. A distinction must be made between effects that are specific to translating, such as (perhaps) increased verbal intelligence, and 'side effects' such as friendly relations with other children. The latter might be accomplished by everyday behaviour or being good at football.

But these are quibbles about a very praiseworthy initiative. The mystery, to me as a translatologist, is that no studies have been done either of YI as a movement or of individual young translators. There is a large and varied pool of subjects waiting for you eager beaver researchers.

Astrid Dinneen (ed.) Young Interpreters Newsletter, Issue 22, 26 January, 2016.

NPIT3, Winterthur (near Zurich), 5-7 May 2016
International forum for Non-Professional Interpreting and Translation, the latest paradigm in translation studies.

No comments:

Post a Comment