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Interpreting Studies

Interpreting Studies | Courses

Contact: Edwin Gentzler, Director, Translation Center
Office: 19 Herter
Phone: (413) 545-2203
Email: genteler@complit.umass.edu

The Field

The field of Interpreting Studies explores the technical aspects of community and international communication in consecutive and simultaneous modes. While interpreting has been done for millennia, the skill has been studied and institutionalized with the founding of the School of Interpreters of Geneva, Switzerland in 1940.
The Interpreting Studies program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, founded in 1980, is one of the oldest in the country. Interpreters must be college graduates; they must possess a broad cultural background and a general knowledge of politics, economics, and law. Public speaking, memory, note-taking, and ethics are also important. Interpreting may be done face-to-face, in a booth, over the phone, and via remote audio and/or video connections. The certificate program trains students in those areas.

The Program

Interpreting Studies is an interdepartmental program to certify qualified students in general language interpreting in French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish or Portuguese, or in other languages. As specified in the list of requirements below, this program coordinates three disciplinary areas: interpreting, communication, and languages. Courses in interpreting are courses in techniques and do not involve themselves with the teaching of languages. A discipline such as interpreting is a meeting ground for all language departments.

Studies in the field of interpreting may lead to the Certificate in General Language Interpretation (CGLI). This certificate opens two possible avenues: a) together with the B.A. or B.S. in any field, it can expand opportunities for employment in social service and governmental agencies as well as in business and industry; b) the training required for the certificate screens and prepares potential candidates for graduate work in interpreting studies.

Admission to the program and courses is by examination and/or interview with the Program Director, Professor Gentzler.

Requirements: six courses or 18 credits are required for the certificate. Two courses are taken in each of the following three areas: interpreting, communication, and languages.

A. Interpreting Studies—INTERPRT 481 and 482 (also listed as FRENCH 481 and 482).

B. Communication—two courses (300 level or above) selected from English, international relations, political science, economics, business, geography, history, communication, journalism, linguistics or sociology.

C. Languages—two courses in one or two languages other than English. These are advanced foreign language courses (300 level or above) in translation, composition, business, literature or communication.
Residency abroad for at least one semester is optional and can replace one of the two courses required in languages other than English.
Information on programs for study around the world is available at International Programs, William S. Clark International Center, tel. (413) 545-2710. In addition to language study, it is possible to pursue a semester of study at the Interpreter’s School of Zurich (DOZ).

Career Opportunities

The need for qualified intepreters has grown dramatically in recent years. Interpreters are needed in various agencies of the state and federal government, as well as hospitals, health clinics, law offices, community programs, and conference settings. By far the largest staff of language specialists in the federal government is the Language Service Division of the Department of State. The FBI and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) both employ full-time interpreters. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts also has a critical need for trained interpreters in medical and court interpreting. Interpreters can also find employment with business and industries that have international operations or community groups serving immigrant populations.

The opportunities for employment as an interpreter depend upon the particular language combination that candidates have to offer, as well as their place of residence and willingness to travel. The market varies constantly, but many employment opportunities are currently available, and the field has gained increased recognition in the last decade.

Apart from full-time employment, job seekers can enhance their possibilities for employment by combining an advanced language skill such as interpreting and another major or profession. Interpreting skills combine well with programs in business, public health, nursing, legal studies, and communication

Interpreting Studies | Courses