Florida International University

Department of Modern Languages










SPT-3812 is an introductory course in Spanish/English interpretation, oriented toward a variety of settings --legal, medical, business, immigration-- with emphasis on court interpreting. The course will cover the different aspects of interpreting as a profession, including the training needed, job opportunities and sources of work, standard business practices, free-lance versus staff interpreting, and other issues. It will also cover aspects of linguistics, vocabulary and terminology, the different modes of interpretation, and the professional code of ethics. Extensive practice in interpretation will be provided in class and in the language laboratory. This course meets on Saturdays from _______ to _______ at _______.


Goals: a) to familiarize students with interpreting and its uses in professional life; b) to prepare students for further courses in interpretation and related subjects, leading to an FIU Certificate in Legal Translation and Court Interpretation; c) to enhance student fluency and confidence in both languages through contextualized intensive practice in all modes of interpretation; d) to develop a high standard of professionalism through knowledge of the field, its business practices, social issues, and code of ethics. 


Requirements:   This course will have written and oral exams whose content and format will be discussed in class. Class participation and performance will also be evaluated. A portfolio of problematic vocabulary, phrases, and expressions (whether specialized, idiomatic, or slang), with their translations, will be maintained by each student, shared with the class, and turned in periodically for a grade. The content for this portfolio should be drawn from class materials, television newscasts, educational programs, and talk shows, in both languages. Language lab assignments are listed weekly on the syllabus. Attendance is MANDATORY. Absences will severely affect your class participation and performance grade, as will tardiness. Be ON TIME.


Final Grade will be calculated as follows:

40%     Exams           

40%     Participation & performance                

20%     Portfolio                                            



Textbook and materials:


*Edwards, Alicia B. The Practice of Court Interpreting. Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1995.


*Photocopies and audio materials will be provided in class by the instructor. A fee may be assessed by the Department of Modern Languages for photocopies, if these become too numerous.


*Audio Tapes are available in triplicate at the language lab located at the English Language Institute (ELI) Building, room 203. These tapes are for in-lab use only; they cannot be checked out. Tapes are 30 minutes long (or less) on each side.  Check with ELI for operating hours.




Sample Syllabus





Introduction to the course.

The FIU Program in Legal Translation and Interpretation.

The history of interpreting and current state of the profession.

Aptitudes for interpreters.  Sources of work.

Drawing an entry / self-marketting plan.

[reading: Edwards, ch. 1]



The modes of interpretation: consecutive, summary, sight translation, and simultaneous modes.

The learning process & training methods.

[reading: Edwards, ch. 6, pp. 105-7]   [handouts]

[demonstrations and practice]

[lab tape ACL-4, sides A & B, for this week]



The professional code of ethics.

Court interpreting: civil and criminal.

[reading: Edwards, ch. 4]    [videos] 

[class practice in consecutive mode]

[lab tape ACL-5, sides A & B]



Criminal Procedure.  Legal terminology.

[reading: Edwards, chapters 2 & 3]

[class practice in consecutive mode]

[lab tape ACL-6, sides A & B]




The nature of language.  Linguistics for interpreters.

Slang, Spanglish, code switching, regional varieties of Spanish.

Interpreter Errors.    

[reading: Edwards, ch. 5]

[class practice in consecutive mode]

[lab tape ASL-1, sides A & B]



Techniques in simultaneous interpreting.

Shadowing, dual-tasking, paraphrasing, queuing, decalage.

Developing accuracy, speed, and endurance.

[lab tapes CT-56 and CT-79, sides A & B ]



Cognitive Science and the Interpreting Process.

Developing attention, memory, and endurance.

[lab tape ASML-3, sides A & B]



Mock Trial.    Mid-Term Exam.

[lab tape ASL-2, sides A & B]




Introduction to medical interpreting. Medical terminology.

[class practice in sight translation and consecutive mode]

[lab tape Rx-1c, sides A & B]



Ethics and techniques compared with legal setting

Consecutive and simultaneous modes in medical interpreting

[lab tapes Rx-2cs and Rx-3s, sides A & B]



Overlaps of the Legal, Medical, and Business Fields.

Introduction to business interpreting. Business terminology.

The business meeting (formal and informal).

Telephone interpreting.

[lab tape ASL-7, sides A & B]   [videos]


22-27             SPRING BREAK




Escort, seminar, and conference interpreting.

Introduction to immigration proceedings.

[lab tape CT-115, sides A & B]



Free-lancing, continuing education, and career development.

Discussion of self-marketting plans.

[reading: Edwards, ch. 9]



Saturday       Final Exam   12:30 - 3:15 p.m.