Competence-Oriented Task-Based Learning Approach to Medical Dual-Role Interpreter Training

Competence-Oriented Task-Based Learning Approach to Medical Dual-Role Interpreter Training

Cong Guo, Cheng-shu Yang, Kunsong Zhang, Ming Kuang
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9308-9.ch014
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


With the developing complexity of international communication and the development of hospitals, diversified interpreting demands, such as interpreting for conferences held by hospitals and for visiting delegations from overseas healthcare institutions, have emerged in the medical field, other than interpreting in the clinical setting. Instead of engaging a professional interpreter temporarily, many hospitals are more inclined to invite their own staff to interpret, for many reasons. The core issue is to empower the medical staff with interpreting competence. This chapter examines a case study closely to summarize and share the teaching experience for training conference-level dual-role interpreters in the medical field. The research then proposes the competence-oriented task-based learning approach and examines its effectiveness.
Chapter Preview


In the medical field, medical knowledge, technology, technique, and medical education are undergoing rapid changes. Building a culturally and linguistically competent healthcare system is essential to improve healthcare quality and reduce racial and ethnic health disparities in culturally diversified countries (Anderson et al. 2003). However, with further development, diversified interpreting demands have emerged in the medical field, other than interpreting in the clinical setting. In order to cope with the developing complexity of international communication and the development of hospitals, dual-role interpreters need to interpret for events hospitals organize, such as conferences, academic exchanges, and visiting of delegations, especially when working in a leading hospital. For the same reason as in a clinical scenario, these hospitals need conference-level qualified dual-role interpreters who are familiar with the local language and culture, and more importantly, the medical system they serve, including the hospital's development, vision, and know-how. Another reason is that the chances of interpreting would promote communication between medical personnel and their international counterparts. It also enhances a hospital’s linguistic and cultural competences as a whole in the long term.

In this context, the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University and the International Medical Translators and Interpreters Association conducted three sessions of dual-role interpreter training from August 2017 to March 2018. The purpose of this joint effort was to empower some of their excellent medical personnel proficient in English with conference-level interpreting competence. The short-term objective was to facilitate the hospital’s international communication, especially for the conference on medical education to be held in the hospital. The long-term objective was to upgrade their international medical services in the near future vis-à-vis the fast-growing Chinese demand. The series of training reflected the need for higher level dual-role interpreter education and training in the healthcare sector. A high standard training is a way not only to enhance competences at the individual and team level, but also for organizations to gain competitive advantages (Noe, Clarke, & Klein, 2014).

The three sessions of training were designed for the purposes of the hospital’s development, with the difficulty elevated. The first session was a 24-hour training, focused on interpreting theories, training methods (retelling, summarizing, paraphrasing, and shadowing), consecutive interpreting skills, note-taking, sight translation, and role play in medical scenarios (i.e., delegation visiting, escort interpreting, and speech). The second was a 30-hour course that aimed at empowering the medical personnel with simultaneous interpreting competences for the coming international conference on medical education. The third session, an 18-hour online course, continued to reinforce the learning outcomes from the second and prepared for the conference by interpreting and translating real-world materials. The teaching team comprised two professors, who were specialized in interpreting teaching and practice, and two teaching assistants.

This is action research aiming at establishing a teaching approach which is appropriate for dual-role interpreter training for the mentioned purposes. Using the second session as an example, this chapter also examines the case closely to summarize and share the teaching experience. There are three research questions:

  • 1.

    How to design intraorganizational dual-role interpreter training?

  • 2.

    What are the competences required for conference-level dual-role interpreters?

  • 3.

    What kind of teaching method to develop to help the learners to acquire these competences? What effect has been achieved?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Knowledge Framework for Dual-Role Interpreter: A knowledge framework that includes interpretation knowledge, language knowledge, and thematic knowledge, all of which interact with each other. Among them, thematic knowledge is closely related to a medical dual-role interpreter’s background and the needs of hospital development.

Preparation Before Interpreting: All the necessary materials, including background knowledge, language resources, and psychological preparations that an interpreter must perform before providing interpreting services.

Medical Dual-Role Interpreter: A medical professional proficient in two languages and who works as an interpreter for his/her hospital when needed.

Competence-oriented Task-Based Learning Approach: An approach for intensive interpreter training. It aims to empower learners with interpreter competence through interrelated and integrated interpreting tasks.

Interpreting Techniques: Explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge of interpreting, including principles, strategies, and skills of interpreting.

Training Design Process: A systematic approach to developing a training program. The approach also includes a training evaluation.

Triangulation Method for Training Evaluation: A two-layer method for evaluating training. The first layer focuses on the post-training performance of learners by using pre- and post-test comparisons, expert grading and questionnaires. The second layer emphasizes the actual effect of the training by collecting views from multiple perspectives and observing emerging learning outcomes over a long period.

Competence for Dual-Role Interpreters: Composed of interpreting techniques, proficiency in at least two languages, knowledge framework, and positive attitude towards providing interpreting services for his/her organization and towards continuous learning.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: