Connecting and engaging in a landscape of practice

- " Is anyone going to the CIOL membership day tomorrow?" -  "Me!"
This was a conversation I picked up on my phone as I was on my way to Borough market this morning. Students on the MA Conference Interpreting at London Met were chatting on their Facebook group and trying to figure out who intended to attend the event, who they could meet there. 
I am sure this has happened to you too. You feel like attending a networking event for interpreters but you worry: who will be there? What if I don't know anyone there? How do I engage in conversations with professionals when I am only an interpreting student? However, find someone that comes with you and all fear then disappears. You can't wait to go, you know it will be fun and fruitful. You suddenly believe in yourself and are open to a new adventure.
How do we transfer the safety of a 'friend' accompanying us to an event, to any opportunity that allows us to connect and engage in a landscape of practice

Is one year enough to train interpreters?

On the 26th and 27th of March, I was privileged to attend the annual DG Interpretation University Conference.The Directorate General Interpretation (European Commission), also known as DG SCIC works closely with universities that provide conference interpreting training to ensure quality. Every year, university representatives are invited to come together and reflect on interpreting studies and the interpreting profession with DG SCIC at the European Commission in Brussels. You can still watch the conference on line.

During the conference, a very relevant question was asked:

"Is one year enough to train conference interpreters at University?"

I would like to use this post to expand on the contribution I made on that day.

First of all, one year may be enough for some interpreting students but not for others. Every interpreting student has a unique learning style. Every student decides to engage with learning at a very specific time in his/her life. As such, the learning context i…

The Interpreting Ambassadors' Scheme at London Metropolitan University moving towards a Community of Practice

As I attendconferences and share thoughts with colleagues, I realise that the Community of Practice mindset is far more than a model to work with, it is deeply embedded in everything I do. As I read and research further into a new CoP model for interpreting studies and the evolution of the interpreting profession, I become more and more aware that the CoP seed is growing faster than I expected. This is especially true in my teaching. When I say 'teaching', I don't only mean 'formal time in the classroom'. From the first encounter with a potential student to the moment a graduate is working and happily doing so, there is a bond that needs nurturing. The formal teaching as well as the informal chats and what I call the 'hot chocolate treatment' are all part of what I call 'teaching' and 'learning'. 
By the way, the 'hot chocolate treatment' is simple: when I see a student who struggles, needs to talk, needs to clear their thoughts, or s…

Behind the scene

Every cohort of students differs from one year to the could get used to it. However, call me naive, I never cease to be taken by surprise. This year is not different. Let me explain...
Designing a lesson or a course goes far beyond what makes good content and how to best convey knowledge and key concepts. It is all about designing an experience that keeps you motivated, learning and asking for more. 
However, there are different categories of lessons.  First, there are lessons you enjoy teaching. You have tried them before, you have refined and fine tuned the outcome; like with play dough, you can mould your lesson to individual students' needs, the uniqueness of a  group, and their likes and dislikes.  Then, there are lessons when you know that you need to dig further into ideas, knowledge and innovative strategies to make your lesson work.  Finally, and this is my favourite part, there are the brand new lessons... this is when you are ready to try something new; you push b…

Butterflies in the stomach, it must be October! Teaching a brand new cohort of interpreting students is about to start....

Time has come to let go of secrets. Mine is simple: every year, at the same period, I feel stressed out and lost. Make no mistake, it always coincides with teaching a new cohort of interpreting students... More than 40 postgraduate interpreting students have entrusted me to bring them through a personal and professional journey of learning and discovery. They have paid money and made sacrifices with the hope that their interpreting career can take off and allow them to earn a living, gain satisfaction and make progression.

Every year, the same symptoms creep in about one week before the teaching starts; I feel I do not know anything. A spiral of thoughts and doubts bombard my confidence and I am reduced to a nervous wreck. I anticipate the joys, think about the students I interviewed, the work we will do together and the development of professional lives including mine. What is normally positive becomes paralysing. However hard I try, I cannot convince myself that it will be OK. Stage …

Direct end users of interpreting services need to be included in the Community of Practice for Interpreting

This week, on the 11th and 12th September, I attended a very good interpreting conference in Newcastle University:talking to the world. Two days of inspiring presentations and discussions, networking and socialising with interpreting on centre stage. I always feel it is a privilege to take part in such forums.

One presentation in particular grabbed my attention; the role of the educational interpreter: A dynamic model by Herculene KotzĂ©, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.

Herculene explains how at a superficial level the role of the interpreter seems to be well defined in most codes of conduct, despite some controversies. In South Africa, there are 11 official languages. As such, universities face the true challenge to decide on their language strategy and choose official languages to use in the classroom and still remain inclusive. North West University, Potchefstroom decided to use English and Afrikaans. As such, educational interpreters are used to interpret lectures…

A Community of Practice spirit in interpreting education

The summer holidays are now officially over. Even though I have worked all summer on PhD research and admissions of interpreting students for the master's interpreting programmes at London Metropolitan University, I have enjoyed the flexibility, balanced meals and the luxury of eight hours sleep of the August period. It is now time to get ready and juggle with the numerous balls in the air...  timetable... language combinations...  resources... conferences... communication with students... Facebook page... staff meetings and so on. I have to confess that I actually love it!

Yesterday I received an invitation to speak at Hogeschool Universiteit Brussel HUB about the  Communities of Practice spirit that enhances a collaborative approach in interpreting courses. When speaking to the course leader asking for further details on what participants would benefit from, I realised how much I take what interpreting students and staff have achieved as 'straightforward' and 'normal&…