Conference interpreter training programmes: 2005 survey
Every three years the AIIC Training Committee (AIIC/TC) conducts a global survey of Conference Interpreter (CI) training programmes. In the spring of 2004, 178 schools worldwide were invited to complete an online questionnaire on the AIIC website. The original deadline was extended to December 2004 to allow ample time to reply. This report is based on the 48 completed questionnaires submitted.
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The ghost(s) in the machine
The AIIC/TC made every effort to contact all schools offering interpreter training programmes, also taking into account other relevant information received from colleagues, students or graduates However, this was the first time that the survey was conducted online and, not unexpectedly, some difficulties were encountered. Although the questionnaire had been carefully piloted, some respondents ran into problems when replying online or may have been discouraged by the electronic format. Others may not have received the invitation to participate because of an incorrect e-mail address. It should also be noted that some programmes or courses are offered only in response to demand (i.e. not necessarily every year); the same applies to certain language combinations.
The process was further complicated by the fact that many schools in Europe are currently adapting their curriculum to the Bologna Process initiated by an EU ministerial meeting at the Bologna Education Summit in 1999. The goal of the Bologna Declaration is to provide a common European framework for academic programmes (3yr BA -> 2yr MA -> Doctoral -> Postdoctoral), thereby enhancing inter-university flexibility and mobility. During a transitional period, some schools may continue to offer both pre- and post-Bologna formats.
The AIIC/TC is confident that when the next survey is launched, the online system will have bedded down and respondents will be more comfortable with the website interface.
The questionnaire and its assessment
In assessing the responses to the survey questionnaire, the AIIC/TC looked at the extent to which each school's curriculum provides the most effective CI training. It is not the task nor the intention of the AIIC/TC to assess either the quality of instruction or that of a programme's graduates. Such an evaluation would involve a much more elaborate process, entailing, for example, classroom observation. Moreover, given the proliferation of CI training programmes around the globe, the AIIC/TC would not have the resources to undertake such a task.
The questionnaire posed a series of questions relating to the CI programme and curriculum, from admission tests to instructional delivery and exit examination procedures. These queries were based on a set of criteria which have been identified as best practice in effective CI training programmes.
It should be noted that, in some cases, there are compelling reasons why a CI programme cannot meet the AIIC/TC criteria. National, federal or local legislation, or financial constraints may prevent them from complying. Some schools have difficulties finding practicing professional interpreters willing to serve on their teaching staff.
However, in general, the AIIC/TC is pleased to note that there continues to be a growing consensus on the definition of quality in education.
The AIIC online Directory of Interpretation Schools: assisting prospective students and supporting institutional networking
The AIIC/TC processed and analysed the responses returned from each school which participated in the survey. This information is now in the Directory of Interpretation Schools where browsers can directly access an entry for each school cross-listed by country and by language combination. The Directory indicates which training institutions meet AIIC/TC criteria and at which level, and provides a school fact sheet based on information supplied by the schools themselves in their responses to the survey questionnaire. In many cases, there is a direct link to the school's own website, making it easier for prospective students to obtain the information they are seeking.
The AIIC/TC hopes that the Directory of Interpretation Schools will be of practical use to everyone involved in conference interpreter education, especially future students of interpretation and schools offering CI training programmes.
We would like to thank all those who took the time and trouble to participate in this survey. The AIIC/TC is dedicated to supporting academic institutions' efforts to provide quality CI training. We are convinced that cooperation is essential if we are to give guidance to prospective students of conference interpretation as they make their critical choices regarding training and career tracks.
The AIIC/TC is happy to respond to queries from prospective students relating to interpreter training. Please post questions about schools and the availability of CI programmes on the message board: we will try to help you find the answers.
Recommended citation format:AIIC Training and Professional Development. "Conference interpreter training programmes: 2005 survey". aiic.net. September 20, 2001. Accessed January 19, 2017. <http://aiic.net/p/372>.
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