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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.
  • 11/23/2016 4:39 PM | Thais Passos Fonseca
    MATI Member Spotlight: María Conde-Barwise

    Language Pair(s): English<>Spanish


    Degree(s)/Certification(s): Master of Arts in Linguistics; Bsc. Computer Science; U.S. Certified Court Interpreter; Texas Master Licensed Court Interpreter; New Mexico and Indiana State Certified Court Interpreter; English into Spanish Certified Translator (The University of Texas at El Paso, UTEP); Minor in Translation (UTEP); Diplomado in Translation and Interpreting (University of Ciudad Juárez, México).


    How long have you been a MATI member? A bit over a year.

    Where do you live and/or work? I live in Indianapolis, IN. I work as a freelance interpreter & translator in Indianapolis for the Marion County Superior, Juvenile, and Small Claims Courts through a local interpreting agency. I also provide my interpreting services to some of the Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio U.S. Courts.


    How did you acquire your B language(s)? I slowly began acquiring English as a child living in Mexican cities bordering the U.S. Then, while in college, I learned how to read it and expanded my vocabulary as most of my computer science textbooks were only available in English. Finally, what helped me become more bilingual and bicultural was the fact that I lived, studied and worked on the U.S.-Mexico border for over 22 years.


    How long have you worked in your field? Almost 20 years.


    How did you get started in the field of translation and/or interpretation? I began in the field when I applied for a job as a software programmer/systems analyst and the position was no longer available. This was at a manufacturing plant in Ciudad Juárez, México. They told me to wait for a position to open, but they also asked me if I would be interested in helping translate several key production floor software tools in the meantime. I said yes, and I discovered I loved the job! That was back in 1995, and I realized I had found what I had always been looking for—my true calling. I forgot about trying to go back to computer science and programming jobs, etc. and dedicated all my efforts and energy to study and learn more about translation and interpreting. After that job ended, I would only apply to jobs/projects that had to do with translation and interpreting, holding several full-time/in-house translator and interpreting positions until I became a freelancer. 


    What is your favorite thing about working in this field? My favorite thing about working in the interpreting field, specifically in court interpreting, is the fact that I feel that I am serving two nations: the U.S. and Mexico. As a long-time resident on the U.S.-Mexico border, I have learned to love the two countries I feel I am a part of: Mexico and the United States. Also, that I equally get to serve both countries by helping my compatriots understand what happens in a courtroom and by providing the courts with services that are backed up by experience, formal education and skills.


    Describe an especially memorable or fulfilling professional experience. After a bit over one year of hard work interpreting for a Japanese consultant in a manufacturing plant where the work was done in English<>Spanish, he once told me, “María, now that I come to think of it, after more than one year, there has not been a single misunderstanding or misinterpretation of anything that I have said to either a production operator, supervisor or manager and the other way around. I don’t think a single mistake has been made arising out of all of the information I conveyed and/or received through you.” I just smiled, and thought to myself, “Exactly!” I was glad to know someone was able to see that I always tried my best to help people understand each other. I needed no other compliment or comment about my performance. That’s been one of the best things I have ever heard about the job that I do and that I love doing!


    What is your favorite part of the workday? Type of job? Type of client? Aspect of your profession? There are many things I like about my profession and these are just a few: learning new things; meeting new people and people from all walks of life; listening to polite, professional, flexible, objective and articulate professionals like attorneys and judges, etc.; and feeling challenged when interpreting in a trial or any other proceeding.


    What do you do in your free time? I love going to the movies, dancing, meeting with friends, going to concerts and museums, seeing new places, etc.


  • 08/10/2016 12:59 PM | Meghan Konkol

    Annual Business Meeting

    MATI directors and members met Saturday, August 6 in Milwaukee for the Annual Business Meeting. The MATI Board of Directors officially swore in several new members: Elizabeth Colón as President and Amanda Bickel, Marina Ilari, Kristy Brown Lust, Thaís Passos Fonseca and Ghada Shakir as Directors.

    Reports were also submitted from the Membership, Communications and Programs Committees in addition to the financial report. As MATI’s board continues to incorporate new programs and features that benefit our growing membership, all committees are seeking volunteers to support in the delivery of new and ongoing services. Please visit the Committees and Chairs page on the MATI website for a description of MATI’s committees and the responsibilities and tasks that fall under the purview of each.

    The board also discussed plans for the upcoming annual conference, to be held Saturday, September 10 in Chicago. The event includes an exciting lineup of presenters, a special literary translation reading session, and the popular networking and hors d’oeuvres hour. Registration is open at Sponsorship opportunities are also available; please see for more information.

    In closing, President Colón expressed her dedication to her new role as President. She is eager to listen to and provide support for all MATI members, and welcomes your feedback and participation in the organization. MATI is looking forward to another successful year!

    MATI’s 2016-2017 Board of Directors

    Executive Committee

    President: Elizabeth Colón (IL), 2016-2018
    Vice President: Joseph Wojowski (IL), 2015-2017
    Secretary: Amy Polenske (WI), 2015-2017*
    Treasurer: Katarzyna Jankowski (IL), 2015-2017*

    Board of Directors

    Amanda Bickel (WI), 2016-2018
    Marina Ilari (WI), 2016-2018
    Kristy Brown Lust (WI), 2016-2018
    Meghan McCallum (WI), 2015-2017*
    Thaís Passos Fonseca (WI), 2016-2018
    Ghada Shakir (WI), 2016-2018
    Tyann Zehms (WI), 2015-2017

    *Denotes second consecutive term. Per Article 5, Section 5.2 of MATI’s bylaws, “Officers may be re-elected and serve for a maximum of two consecutive terms, but may run for office again after a full two-year term out of office.” For a complete list of all present and past directors of MATI’s Board, please visit Board of Directors.

    To Our Outgoing Board Members: Thank You!

    Our outgoing board members, listed below, served their maximum two consecutive terms on the MATI Board of Directors from 2012-2016. We thank them wholeheartedly for their commitment to our organization. MATI has made great strides in the services it provides to its membership, and we thank our outgoing board members for helping us get to where we are today!

    Christina Green, President, 2012-2016
    Alaina Brantner, Director, 2012-2016
    Susan Schweigert, Director, 2012-2016

  • 08/10/2016 9:17 AM | Meghan Konkol

    Some Fundamentals of Project Management

    By Alaina Brantner, MATI Member

    My professional experience as a project manager includes positions at three translation firms of varying organizational maturity. In those positions, not only have I managed projects of varying complexity in over sixty languages, I’ve also had the opportunity to model my own work as a project manager off of the strategies of some amazing professionals. Below I share a few of the fundamental skills and practices I have seen implemented consistently by the successful project managers with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work.

    Knowing Your Partners

    While collaborating with colleagues from around the globe is one very exciting and rewarding component of the job, the need to know as much as possible about one’s partners is compounded by a work environment in which collaboration takes place almost exclusively online. For example, if you send a translator in Japan a file format with which they cannot work, you’ll likely lose an entire working day coordinating to get them the correct format due to time zone differences. In an industry in which turnarounds of yesterday can be the norm, proactively establishing project parameters around knowledge of a translator’s programs, capacity, location, etc. is therefore one way to ensure smooth project launches.

    Overall, the information that seasoned project managers endeavor to know about their translators includes location (time zone) and contact details (i.e. landline, cell, Skype, Whatsapp, or other messenger IDs—the more the better); operating systems and CAT tools; specializations, degrees, and certifications; other commitments and capacity, in addition to general knowledge of the translator’s strengths and weaknesses.

    On top of knowing this information about each of the translators with whom they work, as they become more experienced, project managers also become more and more aware of factors affecting the language pairs with which they regularly work as a whole. This includes things like periods in which availability in certain language pairs will be greatly diminished due to vacation trends and national holidays, cost of living in target markets and its effect on language costs, degree equivalencies between target and source markets, etc. Building this kind of working knowledge on individuals and cultures is an ongoing process, so above all, project managers develop and rely on a network of colleagues and a repository of resources to which they can turn for all sorts of on-the-fly answers to language questions.

    Since project management is largely about big picture facilitation, project managers rely on the individuals at each stage of the translation process for micro-level feedback on performance, processes and potential improvements as well. For example, as a project manager, I look to translators for proactive feedback on localization issues and problems that have popped up during file preparation, such as character or symbol corruption, etc. I rely on internal DTP specialists for information on compatibility issues between desktop publishing file formats and CAT programs. I turn to the subject matter experts in quality control with questions on appropriate stylistic treatment of textual features, along with feedback on the translator’s performance, conformance to style guidelines, and how instructions could be improved. Maintaining open and constructive dialogue with all participants helps to ensure that any issues that arise are caught and resolved as quickly and smoothly as possible. Additionally, this ongoing positive collaboration amongst all stakeholders to overcome small challenges can have a big impact on overall work satisfaction and the realization of greater overall efficiencies as a result.

    Managing Expectations

    As I’ve learned the hard way, a deadline of “tomorrow” may mean September 1 to me, but on the other side of the globe (in China, for example), by the time a translator reads my email message, that same “tomorrow” deadline will mean September 2 to her, due to time zone differences. At its most basic, managing expectations is therefore about proactive, clear and explicit communication. Asking to receive a translation by tomorrow, Thursday, September 1 at 9:00 AM CST communicates my delivery expectations much more explicitly than “tomorrow” does. This communication style helps to ensure timely deliveries and facilitates project timeline planning as well.

    Managing expectations is also about showing respect to one’s partners in the collaborative translation process. If a translator emails me proactively to let me know that they will need some additional time to complete a project due to unforeseen issues, I manage the expectations of the other providers in that process by letting them know of changes to the timelines so that they can adjust their schedules accordingly. The same goes for scheduling any unexpected project reviews. If file updates or revisions are necessary, for example, I can alert the translator and request that they maintain a window of availability to respond to any questions or review changes to files. This proactive communication of changing project parameters within a dynamic environment in which multiple projects are being completed simultaneously by all providers in the process helps to ensure that resources are available as steps become available. Most importantly, this keeps projects on track for final delivery.

    The concept of managing expectations is also very important to the establishment of project scopes with one’s clients. The client may send over three files for translation, for example, while their request email only references two. Better to ask up front whether they have accidentally attached an extra file than to find out upon delivery that content has been translated that the client neither wanted nor needed. Conversations with the client surrounding project expectations may include more delicate topics as well, such as how rush turnarounds increase project costs and decrease quality, and how failure to make appropriate project investments up front is more likely to result in situations that require expensive and inefficient rework—and in which all losses will likely not be recoverable. Approaching these kinds of topics certainly requires delicacy, and sales representatives rely on their translation teams to provide informative and realistic feedback to clients on project parameters. While difficult, this sort of consultative approach has both long-term benefits with specific clients and for the profession as a whole. As clients become more aware of the intricacies of the translation process, they are more likely to approach that process more critically, with an understanding of the investments necessary to reach translation goals. And they’re more likely to return with their translation needs to those providers that have a positive track record for successfully managing expectations as well.


    Project managers follow multiple projects simultaneously of various types and with varied processes. On any given day, a project manager’s task list may include project launches, queries from the quality team for the translator, quotes, questions from clients on new languages or services, questions from management on new translation technology, post-production TM updates, etc. More experienced project managers have therefore established systems for tracking outstanding tasks, and they prioritize tasks based on the overall objective of project management: to keep projects moving through the production process.

    When I arrive to the office in the morning, I may have three high priority tasks that all need immediate attention. My general strategy will be to cross those items off my task list which I can complete most quickly, so that I can concentrate on any more time-consuming items. For example, not only does passing a translation delivery to the quality team take just a few minutes, but by making this pass right away, I’ve ensured that the project has not stalled between the translation and quality stages. I may also be working on finalizing a multi-language quote and initiating a new quote. While CAT analysis runs on the new quote, I may therefore follow up with any translators from whom I have not yet received a quote for my multi-language project. I’ll keep bouncing between the two projects until I am able to deliver the multi-language quote to the sales team, and send the processed files to the translator for the new project quote. This sort of multi-tasking means that process-orientation is an important skill for project management. While project managers’ focus is often monitoring the overall big picture status of projects, they must also be able to break down each stage into the individual actions that will move—sometimes inch—projects forward and follow through with those actions.

    Prioritizing, however, is also about understanding at what points in the process to make time investments, and a good rule of thumb is that front-end investments often yield the greatest efficiencies on back-end processes. For example, when launching a project, establishing clear instructions on the treatment of stylistic features (acronyms, proper nouns, measurements) will be beneficial at every stage of the project that follows. During translation, the translator won’t have to pause to make a treatment decision for each new stylistic feature they encounter. During quality review, the reviewer will have a translation product in which measurements and acronyms are treated consistently, so they will be able to review the content more quickly and request less changes. During DTP, less changes will be required, cutting down on project revisions during formatting. During post-production TM updates, less changes will need to be implemented into the bilingual file, cutting down on the time for that as well. By taking the time on the front end of the process to establish stylistic guidelines, the project manager has therefore generated time savings at every subsequent stage.

    Still, project managers are also realistic, and they understand that no matter how carefully a project has been planned, surprises are bound to pop up as new versions of programs become available and generate new bugs, as deadlines are inadvertently missed, and revisions to the source file are sent over mid-project. Ultimately, project managers are therefore flexible, and when problems arise, their immediate reaction is to establish plan(s) B (C, and potentially D, depending). Only after a project is back on track will they take the time to reflect on what went awry and what improvements can be made next time around to avoid similar issues.


    Overall, implementing the strategies outlined above can help project managers to achieve a positive domino effect within their organizations, in which happy translators lead to happy reviewers and desktop publishers, which leads to happy clients as project costs decrease, happy sales teams as clients request more work, and happy managers as a result. Beyond these skills, and as with any professional, a healthy amount of curiosity also goes a long way, as does identifying the individuals within your organization who work hard and have the know-how and sticking with them!

    Alaina Brantner is a Project, Vendor and TM Manager and a Spanish to English translator. She holds a Master of Arts in Translation and served as MATI Director from 2012 to 2016.

  • 08/09/2016 10:08 AM | Meghan Konkol

    Meet the MATI Board: Kristy Brown Lust

    MATI Director Kristy Brown Lust works from French to English. She holds a Master’s degree in Translation.

    Why did you decide to join MATI? I joined MATI for two reasons: First, I wanted to connect with other translation and interpreting professionals to build relationships so we can learn from each other, troubleshoot challenges, and celebrate successes. Second, I believe it’s important to improve the visibility of translation and interpretation professionals. We do crucial work that helps make the world a better place, and MATI gives us a strong collective voice.

    What is your favorite part of the workday? My favorite part of the day is when I’m in the midst of translating an interesting document.

    What do you do in your free time? In the summer, I can be found most often outside reading on my back porch.

    What are you most looking forward to about your participation on the MATI Board? I’m excited for the opportunity to meet more translators and interpreters and support them through strong communication and advocacy.

  • 08/09/2016 10:05 AM | Meghan Konkol

    Meet the MATI Board: Ghada Shakir

    MATI Director Ghada Shakir works between Arabic and English. She holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpretation Studies.

    Why did you decide to join MATI? Passion, knowledge and expertise! Having worked in the field for so long and having had the the chance to work with multinational clients at different levels, I feel I am at a point where I can share this knowledge and expertise and pass it on to a new generation of translators and interpreters.

    What is your favorite part of the workday? Project management sums it up!

    What do you do in your free time? I’m a pretty active and social person, and in my free time, I enjoy long bike rides, stand up paddle boarding or just taking a stroll. I also enjoy cooking and entertaining friends and family.

    What are you most looking forward to about your participation on the MATI Board? Having a technical background, I look forward to bringing new ideas on how to stay connected and on the essential nature of having the technical know-how in today’s cyber world—ideas that will help increase productivity, minimize cost and ensure on-time delivery. 

  • 08/09/2016 10:00 AM | Meghan Konkol

    Meet the MATI Board: Thaís Passos

    MATI Director Thaís Passos works from English and Spanish to Brazilian Portuguese. She holds a Master of Arts in Latin American, Caribbean & Iberian Studies with a focus in Translation and a Master of Science in Agroecology, both from the University of Wisconsin. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Medicine from the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil.

    Why did you decide to join MATI?

    I joined MATI because it offered me a reliable and resourceful platform that helped better inform my decision to become a translator (after having worked as a veterinarian for fifteen years). At my first MATI conference, I started learning about the profession and what it takes to be a good translator, and I’ve been learning from it ever since.

    What is your favorite part of the workday?

    I enjoy looking at something I’ve just translated and realizing I’ve come up with elegant solutions for some challenging terms. Those moments allow me to connect more deeply with both my source language and my mother tongue.

    What do you do in your free time?

    I usually spend my free time being with my husband, meeting with friends, chatting online with my family (they live in Brazil), and walking/playing with my dog.

    What are you most looking forward to about your participation on the MATI Board?

    I am looking forward to getting to know the other board members better so that we can figure out how we best work together. Each committee has its own work dynamic, and I am excited to learn where I will fit.

  • 08/09/2016 9:57 AM | Meghan Konkol

    Meet the MATI Board: Amanda Bickel

    MATI Director Amanda Bickel is a French to English translator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

    Why did you decide to join MATI? I started translating very part-time around working other full time jobs that didn’t use any language skills. My freelance clients grew over time, requiring me to go down to part-time at my other job and to now finally quit my other job all together. Now that freelance translating is my primary employment, I wanted to join MATI to connect with other local linguists since the job can be a bit solitary at times.

    What is your favorite part of the workday? My favorite part is being able to take a break to eat, walk my dog, run an errand, prepare a meal for later at any time of the day.

    What do you do in your free time? I love my dog, Gunner, who I adopted last year. I also work a few hours per week as a consultant for a non-profit organization called Haiti Medical Education Project and sometimes serve at a local restaurant too to get out of the house and to get a good workout. I’m from Madison, so any other free time I have I tend to spend with family and friends. 

    What are you most looking forward to about your participation on the MATI Board? I want to take a stronger and more professional role in the translation world, particularly to promote translating as a profession. No one in my family has ever gotten a 4-year degree, so when I told them I wanted to major in French (without knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it), I could tell my family was disappointed in me. Now I am proud to say not only do I have a career that uses those skills, but one that allows me to work from home and raise a family (someday), pays great, and is growing exponentially! 

  • 08/09/2016 9:49 AM | Meghan Konkol

    Meet the MATI Board: Marina Ilari

    MATI Director Marina Ilari works in English and Spanish. She has a degree in Literary Translation from the Universidad del Museo Social Argentino.

    Why did you decide to join MATI? I wanted to meet colleagues in the area who work in the translation industry. I think it’s important to create professional relationships, so you are able to support and help one another in reaching your professional goals. I wanted to have the opportunity to learn about news in the industry and share new ideas and information.

    What is your favorite part of the workday? My favorite part of the workday is very early in the morning. My energy is replenished, and I enjoy answering emails and getting ready to start a new day of work. Every day is different in this profession, and I enjoy the new challenges.

    What do you do in your free time? Most of my free time is spent with my family. I have a son and a baby daughter, and I love to do activities with them. I’m a theater lover, so now that my son is old enough, I’m taking him to the theater and sharing that passion with him.

    What are you most looking forward to about your participation on the MATI Board? Meeting new colleagues and making friends that share the same interests as me.

  • 05/16/2016 7:16 PM | Anonymous

    Reinvigorating ATA Chapters & Affiliates
    Series by MATI VP Joseph Wojowski

    This series was originally posted on Wojowski’s Translation Technology Blog.

    In his series of posts on reinvigorating ATA chapters and affiliates, MATI Vice President Joseph Wojowski speaks to how organizations can create value for members through a suite a services geared toward professional development, including continuing education, networking and spotlights on local resources. This series of posts is geared toward the Boards of Directors of ATA chapters and affiliates, and as such, MATI members are encouraged to share with their colleagues from around the states. Additionally, the series is also pertinent to our members, who can benefit from reading Wojowski’s advice and instructables on podcasts, websites and blogs to learn new ways to develop the online presence so important to marketing in a global economy.

    Attracting New Members to ATA

    I believe membership in the national association should be less of an issue, but in order to do that, we need to re-envision the role of ATA’s Chapters or Affiliates from a local organization of translators advancing professional development to ATA’s street team or ground crew. Read more.

    Recruiting New Members

    While they may not be set meetings with agenda or set topics of discussion, social events are pivotal to the feeling members get in regards to the organization as a whole. These do not need to be lavish banquets and grand galas; they can be as simple as a happy hour or dinner meetup. And while business may not be the goal of the party, when profession is the common ground, it inevitably comes up. Read more.

    The Website

    Creating a website can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. It can be as simple as a modified wordpress blog website and as complex as a professionally created site that is specifically designed to manage the affairs of an organization with members. Read more.

    The Blog

    A regularly updated, thoroughly tagged and categorized blog (if the site allows for it) is the main source of up-to-date content on your website. It, aside from social media updates from a plug-in, should be the most frequently changing page of content. Read more.

    Social Media

    People browsing Facebook aren’t looking for a blog article, that’s why Facebook Notes never really took off. At most, a Facebook post for an organization should have a maximum of 3-4 sentences and if those sentences can be accompanied by a photo or video, even better. Any longer than 3-4 sentences, and no one will read it. Read more.

    The Podcast

    Podcasting is a great way to offer varied content on your website and social media accounts. Aside from photos, audio/visual content is nice because it either gives the eyes a rest or gives one’s audience something to look at besides text for fifteen minutes to an hour. Read more.

    The Webinar

    [Webinars] essentially function as standalone presentation where the presenter and the attendees do not need to be in the same place. Because of that, no venue is needed and people do not need to allot travel time in accommodating the presentation. Read more.

    The Newsletter

    … in 2016, the hard copy chapter newsletter has gone the way of the printed chapter directory, or at least it should have by now. … A volunteer, board member or not, should not be spending hours upon hours laying out a monthly or quarterly newsletter. If it’s longer than three or four pages, no one is reading the whole thing. The newsletter is not worth that much of the volunteer’s time and the format should be optimized to take advantage of technology. Read more.

    The Conference

    Attendees may or may not take what the speakers have to share to heart, but the lasting impression of the conference, and the determining factor in whether or not the attendee attends in the future is the experience they had at the previous ones. Read more.

  • 04/25/2016 7:22 PM | Anonymous

    Viterbo University’s Community Interpreting Certificate

    By Michelle Pinzl, Coordinator of the Community Interpreting Certificate at Viterbo University, in collaboration with students Ashley Rink, Katie Hawes and Katie Rubin

    An attractive program for undergrads and non-traditional students

    Since 2009, Viterbo University has offered a Community Interpreting Certificate designed with the purpose of putting trained bilingual individuals into the professional field of interpreting, a discipline that is growing at an exponential rate in the US and around the world.

    This certificate is an affordable path toward quality professional development, particularly for non-traditional students. Since the flat fee for this program is applied without discrimination based on state or country of residence, this certificate is an attractive opportunity for any resident of the US, including individuals with DACA status, as well as international populations looking for a reasonable way to receive higher education on interpreting in the United States.

    Graduates of this program are able to facilitate effective communication between English and Spanish speakers, providing full and equal access to community members in healthcare, educational, legal, business, and social settings. Interpreting becomes a question of social justice in many realms both domestically and internationally, and our students are enthusiastic about becoming catalysts for positive social change in the world.

    The course curriculum

    Now in its sixth year, the Community Interpreting Certificate at Viterbo University is a one-year, thirteen-credit program designed to help bilingual students become qualified Spanish/English community interpreters. Recently converted to an online format with an optional face-to-face classroom component one evening per week, this program consists of four consecutive interpreting courses and a 40-hour practicum in interpreting. The course descriptions are as follows:

    301—Interpreting Principles, 3 Cr.
    This course introduces students to principles of interpreting, including the understanding and knowledge of the three different modes of interpretation, its code of ethics, theoretical aspects of the discipline of interpretation and their implications in the interpreting process.

    444—Intercultural Competence and Ethics in Interpreting, 3 Cr.
    This course is structured to facilitate the observation, recognition, and assessment of facts and overall patterns of the contexts for the behavior and actions of individuals, families, and communities within and across cultures, in order to promote appreciation, respect for differences, and effective communication. This course will also explore the role of ethics and ethical behavior when depicted against one’s own cultural and or spiritual beliefs.

    456—Seminar for Interpreting in Healthcare and Social Settings, 3 Cr.
    This intensive and highly student-directed seminar covers different aspects of interpreting in healthcare and social settings as a profession, including the training needed, job opportunities and the various paths available to becoming a certified healthcare interpreter. It includes extensive practical work in the three modes of interpretation used in healthcare and social contexts with special emphasis on consecutive interpretation, the professional code of ethics, and professional development activities. The course aims to provide a panoramic overview of biomedical and social-services cultures in the U.S., the U.S. healthcare system and social programs, body systems and anatomy, and medical terminology.

    452—Seminar for Interpreting in Business and Legal Settings, 3 Cr.
    This seminar focuses on legal and business interpreting by examining the training needed for working in business and legal contexts, job opportunities and sources of work, standard business practices and free-lance status versus staff interpreting. The course will also explore different aspects of legal interpreting as it may overlap into other areas of community interpreting. Extensive practical work in the three modes of interpretation is employed with a particular emphasis in simultaneous interpreting. We also examine the professional code of ethics for legal interpreters in detail and provide grounding in basic legal and business language and procedure.

    481—Interpretation Practicum, 1 Cr.
    The interpretation practicum is designed to bridge the gap between theory and practice by offering students the opportunity to practice and consolidate the sight translation, consecutive and simultaneous interpretation strategies that they have been learning in their coursework. The practicum, tailored to reflect the specific needs and skills of the student, also plays a key role in preparing interpreters for future interpreting work in a variety of settings. In close collaboration with selected community partners, students engage in supervised field work, and integrate and reflect upon their educational, personal and professional experiences.

    Stepping into the profession

    The practicum experience that students carry out in this program proves to be one of the driving forces that propels students into the field of interpreting after graduation. For many students, the contact they make during their practicum opens the door to employment opportunity with our partners who include major hospitals and smaller clinics, courthouses, non-profit organizations, local farms and schools. In addition, some students choose to carry out their practicum on medical and social mission trips in places like Guatemala or Nicaragua in collaboration with organizations like Global Partners and Gundersen Health System.

    Students who enroll in the Community Interpreting Certificate are often able to share an array of professional experience with their classmates as practicing medical or legal professionals, farmers, teachers or even current interpreters. Since students can choose to do classes entirely online, this certificate is a flexible option for refining their skills.

    While many of our graduates have gone on to work as interpreters at hospitals and clinics, in non-profit organizations or as free-lance interpreters, others chose to continue in their current professions but with the additional interpreting training as an extra tool they can apply to their current work.  

    What current students have to say

    “Not only do these classes offer a practical and hands-on approach to education by giving students the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the Spanish language, it also encourages cross-disciplinary connections. This program has presented me with countless ways to rise to the challenge and to use my Spanish abilities to better the lives of others by fostering my skills as a language facilitator, careful listener and cultural advocate. In all, the interpreting minor offered through Viterbo has truly allowed me to grow as both a professional looking for jobs related to my degree in Spanish. I have learned that being confident and remembering the professional code of ethics is key to presenting oneself with poise in any situation.”
    –Ashley Rink, B.A. Major in Spanish, Minor in Interpreting

    “Our experiences throughout our coursework were ultimately challenged when we were presented with the opportunity to interpret in the university’s simulation lab for nursing students. In these labs, we collaborated with Viterbo’s nursing program, and we interpreted for the nurse and the Spanish-speaking patient simulator.”
    –Katie Hawes, International Logistics Coordinator at MacDonald & Owen Lumber Company, Interpreting Certificate Student
    “This certificate program has been a thrilling and mentally stimulating experience. Our classes are technically online but local students have chosen to meet in person each week to practice building skills. We have studied important social justice issues such as human trafficking and immigration which we will undoubtedly come across in the field. After graduation, I plan to pursue both my medical and then legal certification.  I would love to help serve the Latino population in my area, and the need is definitely growing.”
    –Katie Rubin, BIA Accredited Immigration Case Manager at Catholic Charities, Interpreting Certificate Student
    The future

    The Community Interpreting Certificate at Viterbo University continues to establish more community partners in the Midwest and across the nation to form highly-qualified professionals for this important field of work. The prospect of an ever more diversified and student population coming forward to serve as interpreters in our local and international communities provides the constant motivation to grow as a program and as an interpreting community.

    This article was written by Michelle Pinzl, Coordinator of the Community Interpreting Certificate at Viterbo University, in collaboration with Ashley Rink, Katie Hawes and Katie Rubin, current students of interpreting. For more information on Viterbo University’s Community Interpreting Certificate, please contact Michelle Pinzl at or visit


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Midwest Association of Translators & Interpreters
28 West Lake Street, Unit #8
Addison, IL 60101

American Translators Association
225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 590
Alexandria, VA 22314

phone: 703.683.6100
fax: 703.683.6122
(Office hours 9a–5p ET)

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