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InforMATIon Blog

The MATI blog features articles pertaining to translation and interpretation. Subject matter includes issues pertaining to the field in the form of explorations into language, methodology and technology, book reviews, biographies, notes on presenters and meeting summaries. The views, opinions and statements expressed within each posting do not necessarily reflect the position of MATI as a whole.
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  • 03/03/2022 2:43 AM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    By Adjo Mireille Agbossoumonde, Founder and CEO of Le Pont Translations LLC

    This post was originally published in ATA-TCD News . It is re-posted with permission.

    In this article we will focus on the importance of following professional standards even in remote interpreting settings, self-care for remote interpreters and interpreters at large, and tips to help you deal with interpreter trauma.

    Now more than ever before, language service companies are providing language solutions that empower companies to communicate with their clients wherever they may be and/or do business globally, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic by bridging the gap of language barrier through remote interpreting (RI) in various settings.

    THREE MAIN TYPES OF RI
    To provide an understanding of what types of interpreting fall under this umbrella term, and how they differ from one another, the next sections will discuss the three ways in which virtual interpreting can be performed or delivered: over-the-phone interpreting (OPI), video remote interpreting (VRI), and remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI).

    It is worth noting that there has been more demand for RSI (on different platforms) since the beginning of the current pandemic with the cancellations of conferences. It is used for virtual meetings such as Multilingual conferences, corporate events, meetings, workshops, training and/or daily briefings. For more details see this Nimdzi article on the subject: The Virtual Interpreting Landscape.

    Telephone & Video Remote Interpreting (OPI & VRI): Consecutive
    Mostly used in these main settings:

    • Medical (telemedicine and in person health care)
    • Legal/Court (depositions or general court proceedings & Immigration)
    • Educational: Parent-Teacher conferences, other IP meetings, and more
    • Business: customer service, meeting and more

    WHY ARE PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS IMPORTANT EVEN IN REMOTE SETTING?

    The main reason is that, like in any other profession, professional interpreters are required to abide by the standards governing their profession whether they are working on-site (face-to-face) or remotely.

    Observation: During this pandemic, we have noticed a new trend of different actors in our industry relegating standards to the sidelines or completely ignoring them, including language companies, interpreters and clients. We should always uphold them. For reference, check out the following links:

    WHY OPT FOR TEAM INTERPRETING IN LEGAL SETTINGS?

    • Practical (helps with interpreter fatigue): We know that conference and sign language interpreters work in pairs, taking turns every 20-30 minutes to relieve one another. Team interpreting is also used in court proceedings—notably trials and depositions—but not all courts use it.
    • Essential to accuracy and completeness of the message: The quality of the interpretation depends on it. Given the responsibilities associated with performing this complex task of interpreting that leads to fatigue, it is crucial that both interpreters work as a team to deliver the message accurately. See the recent NAJIT Position Paper on Team Interpreting In Court-Related Proceedings.
    • Advocacy and client education:Interpreters need to advocate for themselves when needed, and inform the clients or end users of the benefits of team interpreting. They also need to follow the relevant code of ethics for the best outcome possible for all parties.

    SELF-CARE FOR REMOTE INTERPRETERS

    FAQ: Do remote interpreters experience trauma while performing their duties?
    A: Yes, they do, and so do all interpreters. Thus, the importance of self-care.

    Workspace

    Generally remote interpreters work with one or more language services companies. They log into their servers or take calls using a landline (recommended) or a mobile phone.

    Tip: Have water with you. You will need it! If you need water while on a long call or if you start coughing and choking for some reason, inform the client: “This is the interpreter, and the interpreter needs a water break” or “The interpreter needs to be excused,” if you need to relieve yourself.

    TRAUMA: Tips to cope with work related trauma

    As we all deal with the anxiety caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we want to take a moment and acknowledge all the brave interpreters who help ensure equal access to vital community services such as health care, justice, and education. Interpreters are essential workers too. You can download the safety tips for Providing Interpreting Services During COVID-19.

    I trained professional interpreters to be neutral, impartial, strong emotionally, and not to be attached to the story they are interpreting. Still, interpreters are human like everybody else, so these stories can affect them emotionally and even physically at times.

    Tips for Coping with Interpreter Trauma

    • Breathing: Take a deep breath (you can stop and breath even on a call).
    • Debriefing: Talking to a professional or another colleague can be extremely helpful. Note that some companies have debriefing protocols in place, but they are very few.
    • Exercise: Studies have shown that exercise is good for our emotional wellbeing and
      balance.
    • Laughter therapy: Humor is good for you.See this article on the topic: Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke.
    • Breaking the isolation: “Physical distancing is not social distancing.” Make the call! You might consider joining a professional organization if you do not belong to one yet, which affords you the opportunity to network. Safely spend time with others, friends and families.
    •  Anything else (cooking, dancing, singing, yoga, meditation, mindfulness) that works for you.

    Learn critical self-care techniques for remote interpreters in this webinar. You’re Worth it! Self-care for Remote Interpreters: An Urgent Priority by Marjory Bancroft.

    Adjo aka Mireille Agbossoumonde dreamed of becoming a Journalist because she admired a native Ewe Journalist growing up in Togo. Because of her love of languages, she went on and graduated from Université de Lomé, Togo, with a Bachelor in English and Linguistics and a Master’s degree in Translation English-French and became a Sworn (Certified) Translator and Interpreter in 2000. She also obtained a Certificate in Pedagogy from the National Institute of Education Sciences (INSE) and a Professional Development Certificate/Badge for Simultaneous Interpreting from NYU, New York university in 2016. Before moving to the US, she was a high school teacher and taught English as a Second Language (ESL) for 6 years and here in the US, she taught French as a Second Language in Atlanta Public Schools, GA-USA for 4 years. She is currently an experienced French Conference/RSI and remote interpreter (French, Ewe & Mina) and has been a full time interpreter since 2009 specializing in medical, legal and immigration court interpreting. She is also a federal Language Consultant as a Member of the NLSC, National Language Service Corps. She also served as Contract Interpreter Monitor for USCIS (2010-2017).

    Adjo likes singing, dancing and cooking for her family and friends (now for friends impacted by COVID-19) when she is translating, interpreting or running her company, Le Pont Translations LLC (Founder and CEO) based in Atlanta where she resides.

    Email: info@leponttranslations.net

  • 03/03/2022 2:34 AM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    By Val Swisher, Founder and CEO of Content Rules, Inc.

    This post was originally published in ATA TCD News. It is re-posted with permission.

    Usually, when someone tells you that your translations are poor, the first tendency is to blame the translators. Blaming the people doing the work might make sense. However, in my experience, the cause of poor translation is often not the person trying their best to translate the content. The problem lies every place else.

    Here are three reasons your translations might be of poor quality:

    1.      Your source content is poor.

    2.      Your workflow isn’t working.

    3.      Your translation memories are a mess.

    Poor Quality Translations Reason 1: Source Content

    Often, when a translation is of poor quality, you don’t need to look any farther than the source content itself. There are many things that can be wrong with the source content. My examples are for English source content, but you can find similar issues in other source languages. Here are some source English issues I run into all the time:

    Long Sentences

    Do you know how long we’ve been (I’ve been) talking about the scourge of the long sentence? Gosh, it’s been years. Yet, time and again, I still find source content riddled with sentences that are 30, 40, 50, and even 95 words. Yes, 95 words is my new all-time high. And I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Long sentences are difficult to understand in English. They become impossible to translate.

    Let me state it again – with feeling…

    Your sentences should contain fewer than 26 words.

    Grammar Errors

    If your source content has grammar and style errors in it, translating that content can be a real challenge. Do everyone a favor and keep those (short) sentences grammatically correct.

    Tone of Voice

    The nature of our content conversations with our customers has become very chummy. A chummy tone of voice is often grammatically incorrect and usually full of colloquialisms. When we create content in this way, we often use sentence fragments, made up words, and all sorts of punctuation. Very friendly may be your brand’s tone of voice. But, remember that chummy doesn’t necessarily translate.

    Poor Quality Translations Reason 2: Workflow Issues

    There are many places in the content life cycle for the workflow to fail. Sometimes, the hiccup is in the hand-off between the content creators and the localization team. Even more often, the problem is in the hand-off between the localization team and the translators.

    I once worked with a customer that continued to send new and revised content to the translators up to, and including, the day that the translations were due to be returned. At this company, the notion of “freezing” the content was as foreign as the languages they were using. It seemed that every day, new and revised content was forwarded to translation. And every day, there was some type of translation crisis. No surprise! This customer wanted my advice on changing translation companies. Clearly, changing vendors was not going to solve the problem. Changing the workflow and the unrealistic demands on the translators were needed.

    Another problem with workflow is the lack of in-country review (ICR). It continues to amaze me that there are companies that do not do a review of every language. In some languages, content is simply tossed out to the public without a second set of trained eyes evaluating it first. Don’t let this happen to you. If you are going to go through the time, effort, and expense of translating your content, you need to have someone – preferably an employee who is a native speaker – review the content. Otherwise, you risk having inaccurate or poorly translated content floating around.

    [Tweet “It continues to amaze me that there are companies that do not do a review of every language. #xl8”]

    Poor Quality Translations Reason 3: Translation Memories

    I recently did a multilingual content quality evaluation for a customer. As part of the evaluation, we took a close look at their translation memories (TM). What we found was surprising (but not too surprising):

    • Multiple translations for the exact same segment.
    • The exact same translation for the exact same segment listed 30+ times.
    • The source and translation pair mismatched – in other words, the source and target no longer lined up in the TM. This resulted in an incorrect translation being paired with the source segment – for a huge number of translation units.

    Translating content from bloated or corrupted TMs makes the task difficult, if not impossible. The quality of the translation suffers and the cost to you rises quickly. To keep your TMs in working order, someone should clean up the TMs after each translation is complete. If that’s not possible, then the TMs should be scrubbed on a timed and consistent basis. If not, the TM is likely to end up being marginally usable. Sometimes, that is worse than not having a TM at all.

    What About the Translators?

    It is possible that the problem with your translation is the fault of the translator. There are people in the field who are less adept at their job. It does happen. However, if you see a systemic issue with your translations, for example, all or most of the translations are problematic, I suggest you look elsewhere than the people doing the work. The problem could lie in what you provide, how you provide it, or the resources the translators have to do their job.

    Val Swisher is the Founder and CEO of Content Rules, Inc. Val enjoys helping companies solve complex content problems. She is a well-known expert in content strategy, structured authoring, global content, content development, and terminology management. Val believes content should be easy to read, cost-effective to create and translate, and efficient to manage. Her customers include industry giants such as Google, Cisco, Visa, Facebook, Roche, and IBM. Her fourth book, “The Personalization Paradox: Why Companies Fail (and How to Succeed) at Creating Personalized Experiences at Scale,” was published in 2021 by XML Press.

    Val is on the Advisory Board for the Technical Communications Program at the University of North Texas. When not working with customers or students, Val can be found sitting behind her sewing machine working on her latest quilt. She also makes a mean hummus.

  • 03/03/2022 2:31 AM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    MATI President Christina Green connected with Saul Arteaga, Director SWITS, Ltd. to discuss some big challenges LSPs face when trying to hire quality interpreters.

    1. One of the challenges many language companies face is finding quality interpreters.  As a seasoned language professional and as a business owner. Can you explain why that is?

    We interpreters are as good as our last interpreting assignment. I can answer from my experience as a language company owner for almost 20 years, and still learning along the way, that finding quality interpreters, when needed, at an agreement rate and terms that a contract allows, is one of the main challenges because interpreting is a profession that has been built by different levels of credentials, aptitudes, skills and expectations.

    You have interpreters for specific languages, such as ASL, that you need to be licensed in your state to work in specific settings, like schools and courts. Then, you have some language interpreters who are working on the command of their second language, in the same exact settings. And to make things more complicated, professionals who have been hired under good intentions are not understanding the role of the interpreter. Many times the demands dictate how much an interpreter can get paid. Furthermore, professional standards vary from location to location. I also feel that there is an existing sentiment of “anti-company” that may affect the decision of some qualified interpreters to collaborate with language companies.  

    2. How difficult is it finding interpreters for Languages of Lesser Diffusion (LLDs) in today's market, why do you think that is?

     I think that we can divide the answer by separating large language companies and smaller ones.  The former may have the ability to offer many hours, a variety of modalities, and settings that attract LLD interpreters. The latter may not have as much volume and modalities to keep the interpreter busy enough to reach their professional goals.  As a result, the interpreters may try to find more consistent employment with other language companies or organizations that hire interpreters directly such as hospitals or businesses. In a way, it is just a shift of limited resources and puts the interpreter and language company in a situation that may be more difficult to manage and causing language companies to struggle to fill appointments.  Let us keep in mind that most interpreters hired by language companies are freelancers; however, because of the IRS classification guidelines, some language companies hire interpreters as staff; this is clearly another big topic in the industry.  The current labor market for interpreters has significant new realities. The pandemic has put us all in unprecedented situations that we are still learning to navigate. There are other options outside interpreting in the general labor market, and hey, this is America, the land of opportunities and dreams. We generally must work hard to accomplish our goals.

     Spanish is the main language requested for most language companies making LLD requests come in at less volume.  It is difficult for LLD interpreters to make a living solely on interpreting. Many times, they have to add translations to the mix, hold second jobs or rely on other income.  There are great LLD interpreters in the profession. Sometimes one is fortunate to find them and believe me, language companies try to hold on to them as much as possible. Another factor is that language skills are only a part of the whole service, and reliability and professionalism needs to be included for the service to be premier.

     

    3. How can a language company staff assess interpreters of other languages understanding what your customers and the market demands?

    This is a difficult situation especially for LLD, since there are so many languages that do not have any available certification or assessments. Thankfully, we have some certifications available by the NCSC and certification for medical interpreters. The United States is a huge melting pot and the laws mandate language access to LEP persons for many settings. Companies generally rely mainly on the interpreter's resumes, affiliations to language organizations, reputable national rosters and interviews.  As a company, SWITS has developed some commonly used language assessments that give us an idea of the level of skills of the candidate we are going to hire. This is not a psychometric test. These assessments do not always happen since having assessments for all languages would be a huge task. The assessments are reviewed by more seasoned and credentialed interpreters when possible. The assessment can be taken in person or remotely. SWITS has also put together a 60-hour training accredited by the IMIA Accreditation Commission for Medical Interpreting Educational Program and one of the requirements is passing language fluency tests. The market is very demanding and sometimes the buyers of language services do not understand the interpreters are not just sitting in a room waiting for a call to take or to go to an assignment. There are fewer requests for LLD compared to Spanish. The amount of work they receive many times does not encourage them, or justify the expense, to seek further training, certification or be part of interpreter associations. The other part to keep in mind is that LLD interpreters are a very diverse group, coming from different parts of the world,  having different cultures, different perceptions about providing services, and speak some languages that may be more complicated to interpret into English and vice versa. There is also a wide generational and educational spectrum among interpreters of this language group.

     

    4. How do you ensure that your staff and freelance professionals attend continued education programs?  How difficult is it to make sure they improve their knowledge?

     It is difficult to pinpoint what motivates people in a workplace. There is a common denominator that could be the pay and benefits, but ultimately people can sit at conferences or trainings and not pay attention. We cannot force them to be attentive.  One can see who are the motivated interpreters that are willing to learn on their own and/or seek training opportunities. We must be careful what we demand from interpreters because if they are independent contractors, they are responsible to keep up with the standards of the industry. When interpreters are staff, the employer has to ensure they are trained and keep up with the standards.  We offered free training opportunities but some interpreters do not find the time to attend or feel they already know the subject matter. However, there are others who take the opportunity and run with it, and those are the ones willing to accept constructive criticism and ask questions. Asking interpreting related questions is a great practice in regard to language and assignment situations. Otherwise, how do we learn? The internet has made it possible to learn a great deal about our profession. I remember the days where one had to carry dictionaries to our assignments, now we bring our phones as a consultation tool.  In the past, we have had to drive or fly to conferences and now we can learn from the comfort of our home. In order to be a committed interpreter you must think about interpreting in your daily life, use your surroundings and interactions to challenge yourself to learn the best way of communicating concepts in different languages, listen to people who use their native language and read in your working languages if there is material available. It is a rewarding career from the standpoint that we can use all learned skills in edifying our lives.   At least that is how I view it.  Certifications and credentials are an excellent way to ensure that the interpreters are improving their knowledge. Certification and credentials are hard things to achieve but it is not the end all, or reaching the summit of Mt. Everest, and remember, you still have to keep up with your skills for the rest of the journey. 

     

    5. What do you think language company owners and trainers should consider when working with LLD interpreters?

     Language Company Owners need to make sure that they are communicating effectively with all their interpreters, which can be a difficult task because people in general communicate differently and when communicating interculturally it can be even more challenging. So finding a way to pass information and expectations is paramount. That also involves training your operations staff about the different ways that people communicate and making sure your operations staff are aware of the possible challenges.  It is an extra step of check and balance in a very diverse workforce. We cannot spell out every aspect of an interpreting job or what it entails.  Having LLD of materials to read is not always the answer. Some people do not read much.  You can incorporate short videos in your communication training tools and simplify the process as much as possible.  I heard one time that interpreting is a professional practice. Interpreters practice their own service with some variations and they must be responsible at all times to manage the flow of the interpreting assignment and foster good professional relationships with their clients.  For the trainers, I would say that we have to present things in a simple, clear way, not so academically, because not all interpreters are interested in that or at that level of learning, especially when the material is presented in their second, third, or fourth language. The trainers have to be open-minded interpreters with experience because while training there are many what ifs and the instructors will have to provide a sounding response or guidance.  The instructors will not be there when the interpreters are performing the assignment. I always ask the participants of my training, if you do not subscribe to any of the standards that I am presenting or discussing, I want you to challenge me because you must believe in the concepts to be able to practice them naturally.

      I want to thank you for the interview. It has been a pleasure and has given me the opportunity to share my observations with my colleagues. I think that all interpreters share different challenges but at the same time we have a common goal which is to be as accurate and professional as possible with our interpretations; no more, no less. Many times we allow the clients to dictate the speed, the setting or terms and conditions, and sometimes we have to educate the clients that there will be some adjustments in the agreement for the interpretation to happen or discuss this after it has happened.  We have to respect everyone involved in the interpreting assignment. Being flexible is also a big factor when it comes to interpreting. Many times we have to work with the interpreting service stakeholders and find a common ground.


    Saul Arteaga was born and raised in Lima, Peru. At 19 years old, he immigrated to the US where he worked while attending a community college. He further pursued his academic career by receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and completing classes toward a Master’s Degree in Translation Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2002, Mr. Arteaga established SWITS, Ltd., a language service provider based in Delavan, Wisconsin which provides all language services, including signed languages, to healthcare organizations, law enforcement, circuit and municipal courts, and educational institutions.

    In 2004, Mr. Arteaga passed the Wisconsin Certified Court Interpreter examination. Soon after, he became a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Committee to Improve Court Interpretation and Translation in Wisconsin Courtrooms.

    In addition to legal interpreting, Mr. Arteaga also pursued medical and community interpreting, passing the Medical Interpreter Competency Examination offered by the National Center of Interpretation at the University of Arizona and attending classes at the Agnese Haury Summer Institute for Court Interpretation and Medical Interpretation at the University of Arizona in Tucson in 2004 and 2008, respectively.

    To further demonstrate his commitment to providing high-quality interpretation services, Mr. Arteaga passed the National Board of Certified Medical Interpreters and the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters examinations. He also completed the Leadership in Language Access in Healthcare advanced certificate program offered by the IMIA Language Access Leadership Academy.

    As a believer in interpreter education, Mr. Arteaga acted as an adviser for several community college interpreter programs in Wisconsin and Illinois. He originally developed Equal Footing to ensure SWITS interpreters had a better understanding of the role of the interpreter as well as best practices. This seminar grew into the 60-hour medical and community interpreter training that is now offered.

  • 03/03/2022 2:24 AM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    In the past two years, we have seen the importance of being connected to others. As your ATA Chapter Vice-President, I would like to share why being a member of a professional organization is worth your while.

    Whether you are a translator or an interpreter, a membership in ATA has many benefits, from having access to a wide network of colleagues, job opportunities, and educational and financial resources.

    ATA member benefits, include:

    • ATA online directory profile*
    • The ATA Chronicle
    • ATA certification exam option
    • Professional networking
    • Business discussion forums
    • ATA division membership
    • Mentoring and Masterminds Programs
    • Professional affiliation
    • Credit union financial services
    • Professional insurance services
    • Professional development, including free and discounted CPD opportunities
    • Discounts on tools and software 
    • And much more!

     *One of the most tangible benefits, the directory allows both purchasers of language services and colleagues to search for you by language, credentials, expertise, location, and more. Many ATA members report that their ATA directory profile results in new projects with new clients year after year.

     Learn more about the benefits you'll enjoy as an ATA member.

     Hear what ATA members like best about their ATA membership.

    ATA is a huge source of information for me. I feel much better informed about the state of the industry, about technology, about standards, about educational opportunities, about the marketplace, and about ethics in the marketplace because of my ATA membership.” - Jennifer G.

     What's more, your ATA membership can financially benefit MATI. 

     One of the most attractive benefits of chapter status is ATA's dues rebate. When chapter members renew their ATA membership, they may instruct ATA to pay a 10% dues rebate to a chapter of their choice. In 2021, ATA provided over $28,000 in rebates to its chapters! 

     ATA helps you grow on a national level—and on a regional level—by supporting MATI’s programs and your professional development.

     Learn more about what ATA membership can do for you and join ATA today!

  • 03/03/2022 1:54 AM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    by Michelle M. Pinzl, MATI Member

    Even as COVID-19 has brought light to historic racial and class disparities that exist across the world, spring of 2022 invites us to be hopeful that we are turning a corner on this global pandemic. Though history repeats itself when it comes to power, privilege and oppression, communities around the world continue to call us to action via social movements. Feminist grassroots campaigns like ni una menos in Latin America, protest gender-based violence. The Black Lives Matter movement struggles to eradicate the omnipresent white supremacy of our systems and societies. Most recently, communities around the world have come together to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Within this context, interpreters and translators as both cultural brokers and facilitators of language access, also inspire action for racial and social equity in our professional work.

    When power and privilege manifest in the world around us, what is palpable in terms of injustice for some, can appear mysterious or invisible to others. How many times have upper administrators, legislators, and others in positions of power (usually White, usually male, usually straight, usually middle or upper class…) write policies and protocols for those who never got the chance to be a part of the conversation? Those policies and protocols, in turn, most often negatively affect those with less power (often Black and Brown, often Indigenous, often limited English proficient, often LGBTQ+, often poor…). What is clear about privilege and power, is that when we have it, we often don’t see it or notice it; can scarcely imagine that it exists. And when we are not the holders of privilege and power, we cannot forget that our voice is always diminished, we remain unseen and go unvalidated.

    So how do we come together as professionals and professional organizations to continue to advocate for more social justice and equity in our daily work? Talking about these themes within our professional circles, as part of the work that we do, is a start. Developing an action plan is a next step. It is for these reasons that MATI is providing the three-part webinar series in coming weeks: Race, Power and Privilege: Building Social Justice and Racial Equity in the Professions of Interpreting and Translation. The series consists of three 90-minute sessions with the following titles: (1) Exploring Intersecting Identities; (2) Our Privilege. Our Power.; (3) Plans for Social Justice and Equity in Our Work as Interpreters and Translators.

    Participants of this three-part webinar series will reflect on their personal identities in varying social contexts. They will also examine how privilege works to normalize some identities and cultural practices over others. By identifying the intersectionality of shared and diverse identities, facilitators will encourage community and empathy within interpreting and translation circles. After becoming familiar with vocabulary and terminology related to social justice and equity, attendees will be encouraged to identify instances where privilege manifests as racist behavior or has been established in racist policies in our professional lives. Through identity building exercises, personal reflection, and both small and large group discussion, participants will gain a deeper understanding of identity politics and privilege as they manifest. Finally, participants will work to develop a personal plan for interrupting systemic racism and developing transformative policy change in the interpreter and/or translator workplace. All language pairs and identities are welcome. Minorities are encouraged to participate.

    In essence, the aim of such work and such conversations is to positioninterpreters and translators as powerful professionals. We can spark cultural, ideological, and political change because ours lived experiences and intersectional identities serve as direct contributions to linguistic justice. Our voices are essential in identifying where privilege reproduces or perpetuates privileged and oppressive frameworks. Interpreters must be empowered to continue advancing the profession, mitigate the intersectional failures of language policy, and center minoritized voices in social justice and equity. We look forward to more talk about this in with you and our professional organizations this year!

    Michelle M. Pinzl (she/her/ella) is the Coordinator of the Community Interpreting Certificate and Assistant Professor at Viterbo University where she teaches Spanish, French and Interpreting Studies. She earned her Master’s degree in Foreign Languages and Intercultural Management from the Université de Limoges in France and is currently a PhD candidate at the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, in Spain. She is a certified Spanish<>English Court Interpreter for the State of Wisconsin and a certified Medical Interpreter through the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI). Michelle frequently presents in the US and abroad to varied audiences on numerous topics in the field of translation and interpreting. She has been interpreting for healthcare, social service agencies, schools, businesses, as well as various sectors of the farming industry in Wisconsin since 2006.

  • 10/03/2021 3:03 PM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    By Meghan Konkol, ATA director and an ATA-certified French>English freelance translator

    Have you been keeping up with professional development, networking, and the latest technology solutions for translators and interpreters? As a language professional, you can find all this and more through MATI’s parent organization, the American Translators Association (ATA). ATA offers several membership categories, with most individuals joining as an Associate or Student member. After joining, members can obtain Active (or voting) status through a quick and easy application process.

    ATA is the largest professional association in the United States for translators and interpreters, counting over 9,000 members. ATA members need not be located in the US; they can be based anywhere in the world. There’s truly something for everyone in ATA, whether you’re a student or recent graduate of a T&I program, a career-changer, or a longtime translator or interpreter.

    Below are some of the benefits you can enjoy when you join ATA. When you become a member, be sure to check out our member orientation session, a livestreamed event offered every few months, to learn more about these benefits and how to take advantage of them.

    • Division membership: ATA Divisions are groups of ATA members working in specific languages or areas of practice, such as the Italian Language Division and the Educators Division. ATA currently has 22 Divisions, and members can join as many as they wish. Divisions offer resources including message boards, social media groups, webinars, podcasts, and newsletters.
    • Language Services Directory: ATA members can set up a profile on the ATA Directory showing their language pairs, ATA certification, interpreting credentials, education, areas of expertise, and contact information. Clients seeking your services can find you here and send you requests.
    • Business Practices: The online Business Practices community, facilitated by the Business Practices Education Committee, provides a space for ATA members to discuss business questions and the latest technology and industry developments relevant to professional translators and interpreters.
    • Free and discounted webinars: ATA has an active webinar schedule, and many are offered for free or at discounted prices for ATA members. The Back to Business Basics series, free for members, provides business tips for translators and interpreters whether they are experienced or just starting out. ATA also releases a free on-demand webinar recording for ATA members each month. You can access the webinar anytime throughout the month and catch up on hot topics you may have missed.
    • Mentoring Program: ATA’s Mentoring Program offers matching services to members at different stages in their career. Mentees set their specific professional goals and work with their mentor over the course of six months, with the option of extending to one year.
    • Discounts on services, tools, and software: ATA members can enjoy discounts on essentials such as CAT tools, financial services, and professional liability insurance.

    Your ATA membership pays back with direct local support to MATI, too. Remember to indicate that you are a MATI member on your ATA membership application. ATA calculates the number of members who have indicated membership in their local chapter and issues each chapter a rebate check.

    With all these benefits and more at your fingertips, you’ll find a wide range of support, education, and networking within a community of thousands of other language professionals. We hope you’ll join us—and when you do, register for an upcoming member orientation and say hello!

    Learn more about ATA membership: https://www.atanet.org/member-center/join-ata/

    Hear directly from ATA members in this video: https://www.atanet.org/video/5-reasons-to-join-ata/

    ATA’s mission is to promote the recognition of professional translators and interpreters, to facilitate communication among its members, to establish standards of competence and ethics, to provide its members with professional development opportunities, and to advocate on behalf of the profession.

    Meghan Konkol, MA, CT is an ATA director and an ATA-certified French>English freelance translator specializing in international development, marketing and communications, and human resources. She received her MA in French>English translation from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 2010. She serves as chair of ATA’s Membership Committee, and also serves as the coordinator of ATA’s School Outreach Program. meghan@fr-en.com


  • 10/03/2021 2:59 PM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    When Alexandra Wirth took over as Wisconsin Court Interpreter Program Manager in February 2021, she knew she was accepting a big responsibility at a critical moment. Courts around the state had recently begun using video remote interpreting (VRI) for hearings being held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Judges, clerks, and interpreters needed training in how to provide high quality remote interpreting services to courts. MATI board member and inforMATIon contributor Kelley D. Salas spoke with Wirth recently to learn more about it.

    inforMATIon: How did court interpreting change in Wisconsin in response to the pandemic, and what does it look like now?

    Alexandra Wirth: Wisconsin had to act very fast to allow access to justice. The need for video remote interpreting had been recognized by the state, and a pilot program was underway in the northern counties of Wisconsin prior to the pandemic. The pandemic catapulted the idea, and Zoom became the easiest route to address the need for VRI. Though Zoom was not engineered for court use, it provides the means to do remote interpretation. By now, most interpreters who actively work in Wisconsin are very familiar with the nuances of Zoom and have gone above and beyond to adapt to the new conditions of work that are often very hard.   

    inforMATIon: With the use of more video remote interpreting, what steps did your office take to ensure high quality court interpreting services?

    Alexandra Wirth: We started to train court staff in terms of best practices for VRI, technology troubleshooting, and walkthrough sessions. We offered demos to show clerks and judges how to use the simultaneous interpreting feature in Zoom, with interpreters who volunteered their time to train court staff. People are under the assumption that VRI is very easy, and that the interpreter perhaps works “less,” only because they are working from home. We needed to make sure that we established certain parameters so that the courts and staff understand that fatigue is still an issue, even if the interpreter is working from home. Zoom fatigue affects all participants, and interpreters have the added demands of VRI, such as toggling between languages, making sure transitions are smooth between partners, monitoring several devices during team interpreting, acoustic shock, and difficulties to interject and ask for clarifications. To protect against fatigue and preserve the accuracy of the interpretation, it’s important to staff two interpreters for longer hearings on Zoom, just like we would in the courtroom. The fact that I am a certified interpreter has helped tremendously in advocating for the right work conditions for interpreters across the state as we transitioned to VRI.

    inforMATIon: What kind of preparation is required for video remote interpreting?

    Wirth: VRI requires not only subject-matter preparation, but interpreters also have to take care of technical issues that were never part of their jobs before. Interpreters train on different VRI platforms, invest in headsets with noise cancelling and acoustic shock protection, and purchase faster internet connectivity to meet the demands of VRI and to make sure the conditions of work at home are met. For a freelancer, this is an investment that was not planned for.

    inforMATIon: What would you say to someone who has just had a challenging experience with video remote interpreting in court?

    Wirth: Don’t give up on it. Video remote interpreting is a must in today’s world. It’s not going away.

    Interview conducted by Kelley D. Salas for inforMATIon. Kelley D. Salas is an ATA-certified Spanish>English translator and editor specializing in nonfiction and children’s literature. She is an experienced medical interpreter and a certified court interpreter in Wisconsin and Illinois. Salas serves on the MATI board of directors. www.salastranslations.wordpress.com


  • 12/22/2020 8:30 AM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    by Enric Mallorquí-Ruscalleda, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Board Director, Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters

    This fall, 28 of my students in the undergraduate translation studies course I teach at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) attended the annual MATI conference. The idea to have students participate was something we had discussed with IUPUI Professor Emeritus Dr. Enrica Ardemagni. Dr. Ardemagni was a founder of MATI, and also helped establish the undergraduate translation certificate program at IUPUI. She deserves much of the credit for the healthy status of the translation profession in the Midwest, and for creating a bridge between the academy and the professional world of translation and interpreting.

    Among the activities that we thought about with Dr. Ardemagni was student participation in the annual MATI conference. This was recently carried out with a total of 28 IUPUI’s undergraduate students, all of them students of Spanish 323: Introduction to Translating Spanish & English, which I have been teaching regularly at IUPUI for almost three years now.

    In addition to the transfer of knowledge that I intend to provide students with in class, both on a theoretical and practical level, with this activity I also sought to train the students with the goal for them to achieve a higher translation competence and to make them aware of the importance of life-long learning and education in the field of translation studies; I also intended to use this practice, although not limited to the students' exposure, to further the following:

    1. To offer them possibilities to hear about other perspectives and other practitioners, problems, solutions, and concerns among professional translators: daily challenges, management of a translation project, etc., which cannot always be best illustrated in class due to the amount of topics we cover in an introductory class and with only 15 weeks to do so.
    2. Of particular interest has been to relate the above mentioned with the characteristics and specificities that the work of the translator/interpreter has acquired in this era of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    3. To allow students to establish an always necessary professional networking.
    4. To help students build up their respective resumés with meaningful professional activities even during their tenure as undergraduate students.
    5. To make them aware of the importance of life-long learning and education in the field of translation studies.

    More specifically, the task I asked them to complete with this participation at MATI’s annual conference was to attend at least one full session and write a critical report in which, after summarizing the content of the session, they would close it with a critical commentary on both what they had studied in class (the book used for the first part of the course, when they attended the conference, is Jeremy Munday's well-known book, Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications).

    Because my students are, after all, the real protagonists of the exercise, together with the speakers of the different sessions; it’s been interesting to read their opinions about what they have learned in the different sessions.

    One student wrote: “Overall, I think that this conference was extremely helpful and insightful about what it is like to be a translator and what you can do to assure that you are being valued and appreciated in the workplace…I learned that you must always have the proper equipment for translating, create a contract for yourself, and never let anyone devalue your work. I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend this conference and look forward to using the information that I have learned in the future.”

    My students’ comments on their respective experiences, considering it was the first time for them taking a translation class, and that the MATI conference was held during the first month of this particular class, could not be more positive, based on the enthusiastic feedback received from them. Without any doubt this will be an activity that I will keep implementing in my translation classes; I have been doing this for years in my literary classes, but this was the first time in a translation class.

    The fact that I had the pleasure, honor, and privilege to be able to be part of the organizing committee of the conference this year with a group of outstanding translators/interpreters and even better human beings, helped me a lot to be able to open this opportunity to students. However, I would like to take this opportunity to thank MATI, and more particularly all the executive committee, with Christina Green as President, along with all of the rest of the MATI’s Executive Board. I am also grateful to my home department, World Languages and Cultures, my institution, IUPUI (through my research fund), and the Nuthiling Language School for having facilitated the economic resources to help my students participate by entirely covering the registration fees in this educational and transformational activity for them.



  • 05/27/2020 11:19 PM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    It has been a busy year so far for the 2020 MATI Webinar Series. Here’s a 60-second recap of what we’ve learned so far -

    • January 23 – Joseph Wojowksi, ATA Language Technology Division Administrator, took pity on us luddites and walked us through Technology Basics for Those Who Have Always Been Curious.

    • February 19 – Lexi Budden and Michelle Pinzl presented a powerful conceptual tool for interpreters in The Study of Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions: Another Tool for the Interpreter’s Communicative Toolbox. Hofstede’s 6-Dimensional Cultural Framework in professional interpreting.

    • March 19 – Ana Soler, Founder & CEO of SeSo, Inc, unraveled some of the complicated expectations for interpreting psychoeducational assessments and provided tools to help prepare for this type of engagement in Preparing for Psychoeducational and Speech Pathology Interpretation Assignments in the Education Setting: What Medical Interpreters Need to Know.

    • April 16 – María Ester Capurro, sworn English-Spanish translator (Argentine Catholic University) and International Spanish Proofreader (Fundación Litterae), took a fascinating deep dive into the art of proofreading and why it is an essential step in the translation process, in Translation Proofreading: The Importance of an Accurate Revision. This webinar was presented in Spanish.

    • May 12 – Ernest Niño-Murcia, Iowa state and federally certified court interpreter, along with colleague Tamber Hilton, discussed the gamut of the technology strategies for interpreters including types of technology aids, tools for simultaneous interpretation and transcription translation, how to look and sound professional while remote interpreting, and other technology tips in Interpreting Gear 101.

    All webinars are available for on-demand viewing at the MATI Webinar Archive.  $30 Members / $40 Non-Members.

    MATI also hosted two special webinar events that were free to MATI Members:

    • April 2 – Tony Rosado, a U.S. State Department and federally certified court interpreter, encouraged us to embrace our linguist community for support, education, and assistance in this difficult time in How to survive COVID-19 and get ready for what’s next.
    • April 23 – Helen Eby, Administrator of the ATA Interpreting Division, helped us do something that is not always easy, consider our professional practice from a business perspective by walking us through creating a business plan, approach marketing to distinguish ourselves from competition, and client relationship management best practices in How to be an interpreter or translator and not go broke.

    What's Coming Up?

    • June 18, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Interpreting in the world of Dermatology presented by Maria Barajas
    • July 13, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Circumlocution in Educational Settings: Finding Meaning-for-Meaning Equivalents presented by Faustina Zertler and Lisa Anderson
    • August 20, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Los Marielitos: Interpreting the Voices of Cuban Refugees presented by Ashley Rowin and Jade Baumgartner
    • September 15, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Multiple Meanings and Misused Cognates: Pitfalls of Spanish Financial and Legal Translation presented by Abigail Wright
    • October 20, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | An Interpreter’s Survival Guide: A Proactive Approach to Navigating Work as a Subcontractor presented by Liz Essary
    • November 18, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Reduced Nerve Conduction Velocity – Decoding Lead Exposure Language for Interpreters presented by Bryce Dorff
    • December 14, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Test Your English Fluency presented by Colleen Keating

    We hope you'll join us for one of these future offerings or take advantage of the recorded webinars in our archive.

    All live webinars are eligible for 1 CEU toward maintaining your ATA and WI Court Interpreter certification. CEUs from CCHI and RID are pending approval.


  • 05/27/2020 11:00 PM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    High School Heritage Speakers, Action Research and Interpreting Symposium

    By Sierra Wilcox, Faustina Zertler, and Michelle Pinzl

    It has been awhile since community interpreting students at Viterbo have reported in inforMATIon about the ways they are working to advance both their skills through practice and their knowledge through theory. Since their last publication in April 2016, three major developments have propelled their studies and professional development forward and into local communities throughout the Midwest. Read on to learn more! 

    Early College Credit Program (ECCP)

    In 2019, the Community Interpreting Certificate began working with area high schools, to include heritage speakers of Spanish into interpreting courses at Viterbo. The Early College Credit Program, through Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, permits high school students to take courses at institutions of higher education for high school and/or college credit -- all of this funded through the State of Wisconsin and the students’ school district. Currently, twelve students attending Arcadia High School are enrolled in Viterbo’s Interpreting Program. 

    While some have found it challenging to balance obligations between high school and college, five high school seniors are expected to successfully graduate from the program this spring semester. Overall, these students feel positive about their experience in the program and hope to use the skills they have gained in their future as interpreters or in other professional contexts. As one student, Diego Gonzalez-Diaz, from Arcadia High School reports, “I plan to one day work in the government... My dream is to work at an embassy in Spain or Mexico.” It has been infinitely enriching to have the hopes and dreams of this nation’s youth mingle with the wealth of wisdom that non-traditional students’ experience brings to the classroom. In the end, we have learned that we are all working toward common goals.

    Carrying out Action Research and Training in the Community 

    To hone their skills as professionals, both high school students and non-traditional students enrolled in this program have worked on a variety of undergraduate action research projects and training opportunities in recent years. Students of the 2018 and 2019 cohorts, for example, carried out a total of seven undergraduate research projects. First, they read literature about the state of community interpreting both in the US and internationally. Then, working independently or in groups, they formulated research questions about language access in their own communities. After writing a research proposal, creating and distributing surveys and finally analyzing the results, they disseminated their data. In the process, they were able to identify tangible realities around interpreting services in their local communities and potential areas for improvement. 

    The action research that students engaged in between 2018-2019 included topics related to language access in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the La Crosse Police Department, real estate agencies, pharmacies, libraries, dental offices, and area dairy farms. At the 2018 and 2019 Ramp Up the Conversation Interpreter and ISP Conferences, organized by Bilingual Training Consultants LLC, students presented the results of their studies to practicing interpreters from around the state and region. By sparking conversations with practitioners, aspiring interpreters were able to form relationships with experienced professionals in the field. At the same time, interpreters with years of practice, were inspired by the freshness and enthusiasm with which students strived to change language access for the better. 

    In November 2019, students built on gained research skills, in the course Interpreting for Business and Legal Contexts by responding to MATI’s 2020 Webinar Series. They wrote their proposals based on their life experiences as related to community interpreting, projects related to their action research, or their 40-hour internships. Based on the accepted webinar proposals, seven students hope to prepare round-table presentations for the Viterbo Community Interpreting Symposium to be held and hosted by Viterbo, for interpreting professionals in the region. Founded in research and experience, these sessions will be engaging opportunities for practicing interpreters who seek continuing education credits. The diverse topic areas of these presentations are reflected in their well-chosen titles and speak to themes that revolve around language access in varied settings:

    • The Study of Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions: Another Tool for the Interpreter's Communicative Toolbox  (by Lexi Budden and Michelle Pinzl)
    • Interpreting in the World of Dermatology (by María Barajas)
    • Circumlocution in Educational Settings: Finding Meaning-for-Meaning Equivalents (by Lisa Anderson and Faustina Zertler)
    • Los Marielitos: Interpreting the Voices of Cuban Refugees (by Ashley Rowin and Jade Baumgartner)
    • 'Reduced Nerve Conduction Velocity' - Decoding Lead Exposure Language for Interpreters (by Bryce Dorff)

    Abstracts describing these presentations can be found on the MATI Webinar Series 2020 webpage here: https://www.matiata.org/page-1829479. 

    Indeed, students have been working hard to engage in their communities and connect with the booming field of interpreting in the United States. As one future presenter at the 2020 interpreting symposium, Bryce Dorff, states, I have learned many things from the Community Interpreting Certificate including the history of interpreting, modes and techniques for interpreting, and ... about my own biases that I bring into an interpreting session. Beyond the academics, I learned about interpreting as a service, and a community that is passionate about equality, justice, and client rights.” The hard work of these students will culminate for 16 graduates in a ceremony held as soon as it is safe to do so in-person, given the stakes of our current worldwide pandemic.  

     ---------------

    First Annual Community Interpreting Symposium: Date and Format to be Determined!

    As for out first annual Community Interpreting Symposium, Viterbo’s Interpreting Program would be honored if you would join us for the event and celebration! Organization, marketing and event themes will be student-led, but the target audience will be interpreting practitioners. We are hoping to share with you, as well as learn from you!

    The objectives of this event are threefold: to create a continuing education opportunity for practicing interpreters in the Midwest, to encourage the link between theory and practice in the fields of translation and interpreting and to deepen conversation and understanding in our communities about the importance of language access. The day will consist of several break-out sessions and workshops facilitated by current Community Interpreting Certificate students, recent graduates, and other practicing interpreters and translators on various topics related to language access.

    Please stand by for more information on the Symposium date, time and place, as we continue to support one another in the best ways we know how through the COVID-19 pandemic! 

    Tentative agenda: 

    Welcome: 7:50am

    Break-out sessions: 8:00-9:30am

    • 30-minute Roundtables

    Break-out Workshops: 9:45-10:45am

    • One workshop for each modality  (sight translation, consecutive (carried out in the simulation lab) or simultaneous)

    Break-out sessions: 11:00-12:30pm

    • 30-minute Roundtables

    Lunch: Panel with Marielitos 12:30-1:30pm

    • Interpreting at Fort McCoy in 1980: The Struggle of Language Access for Cuban Refugees

    State of the Field: Current and Future in La Crosse and Surrounding Areas: 1:45-2:45

    Closing Remarks

    Interpreting Certificate Graduation Ceremony:  3-4:30pm

    Wisconsin Court interpreters, CCHI and IMIA/NBCMI. We look forward to seeing you there! 

    A final thought from Sierra Wilcox, current student of the program:

    In conclusion, I would like to assert, as a current student of the program and co-author of this publication, that being a student in Viterbo University’s Community Interpreting program has been an excellent investment in my future. I’ve learned a great amount on a variety of topics including language, diversity, health care, laws, culture and so much more. This program allows people who are interested in interpreting or translating the tools needed to do so in a professional and productive manner. Even if interpreting or translating isn’t your end goal, I would recommend the program to everyone interested in languages or cultures.

    On behalf of the program and the students who will help to organize the upcoming Community Interpreting Symposium, we look forward to welcoming you to Viterbo soon (whether in person or online)! 

    ______________________________________________________________________

    Bio: Sierra Wilcox expects to finish her B.A. in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in December 2020. In addition, she will earn a Certificate in Community Interpreting from Viterbo University by the end of this year. Her main interests regarding language access lie in community interpreting, particularly in educational and medical contexts. Sierra also volunteers weekly at the Language Resource Center at UW-La Crosse where she serves as a conversation partner for students learning Spanish.

    Bio: Faustina Zertler graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a B.A. in Spanish in 2019. In December of 2019, she earned a 13-credit Community Interpreting Certificate from Viterbo University. As a researcher, Faustina has presented research in both language access within the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and patient compliance to breast cancer follow-up. Faustina now works as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Gundersen Health System and a Spanish-English Community Interpreter for school districts in Southwest Wisconsin.

    Bio: Michelle Pinzl is the Coordinator of the Community Interpreting Certificate and Assistant Professor at Viterbo University where she teaches Spanish, French and Interpreting Studies. She earned her Master’s degree in Foreign Languages and Intercultural Management from the Université de Limoges in France and is currently a PhD candidate at the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, in Spain. She is a certified Spanish<>English Court Interpreter for the State of Wisconsin and a certified Medical Interpreter through the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI). Michelle has been interpreting for social service agencies, schools, businesses, as well as various sectors of the farming industry in Wisconsin since 2006.


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