Florida International University

Department of Modern Languages










SPT-4804 is an advanced course in Legal Interpretation (Spanish/English). It provides an in-depth look into the practice of court interpreting in the criminal procedure, in civil litigation, and in immigration hearings. Linguistic and cognitive processes during interpretation will be studied and analyzed with emphasis on identifying strategies for memory, accuracy, and speed development. Intensive practice in all modes of interpretation will be conducted with authentic materials. Political and historical issues affecting the profession will be discussed, and the interpreter’s code of ethics will be examined in detail. Students should have completed SPT-3812 and SPT 4802 or equivalent courses, or have some professional experience in legal interpreting, or be otherwise approved by the instructor. This course meets on ____________________ at __________.


Goals: a) to prepare students for an FIU Certificate in Legal Translation and Court Interpretation; b) to enhance student fluency and confidence in both languages through contextualized intensive practice in all modes of interpretation; c) to develop speed, accuracy, and stamina in simultaneous interpretation aimed at a professional level of performance; d) to develop a high standard of professionalism through increased knowledge of the field, its business practices, social issues, and code of ethics; e) to gain insight into the workings of the legal field so as to be able to approach legal interpreting work with confidence and knowledge.


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 legal vocabulary, phrases, and expressions, with their translations, will be maintained by each student, shared with the class, and turned in periodically for a grade. The material for this portfolio should be drawn from the assigned readings, class sessions, and language lab tapes. 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:

Midterm Exam                                20%

Final Exam                                        30%

Participation & performance     30%

Portfolio                                             20%




Textbook and materials:


*González, Vásquez &  Mikkelson. Fundamentals of Court Interpretation: Theory, Policy, and Practice. Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 1991.


*Source of materials prepared by the instructor.


* Louis A. Robb. Diccionario de términos legales.  (Recommended)


*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.


***Each student must have a battery-operated tape recorder or “dictaphone” for standard

size cassette.









Introduction to the course. Review of interpreting modes and training methods.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 359 - 411]

[lab tape ASL-1  -  lab tape selections will adapted to individual need]



Preliminary issues in interpreting.

[Reading: Textbook pp. vii - 34]

[lab tape CT-117]



Historical and political issues in legal interpreting. The Act of 1978.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 37 - 91]

[lab tape CT-56]




Overview of the legal system. Comparative law.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 95 - 110; 143 - 152]

[lab tape ASL-2, ASML-3]



Criminal Procedure.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 111 - 141; 415 - 437]

[lab tape ACL-4]



The role of the court interpreter.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 155 - 180]

[lab tape ACL-5]



Administration of interpreter services.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 183 - 224]

[lab tape CT-75-1]




Linguistics for interpreters. Aspects of meaning.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 227 - 251]

[lab tape CT-75-2]



Legal language. Types of crimes. Mastering terminology in jury charges.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 253 - 272 +  photocopied handouts.]

[lab tape CT-75-3]



Legal discourse analysis. Interrogation techniques. Types of interpreter errors.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 273 - 291 +  photocopied handouts.]

[lab tape ASL-8]

Take-home Mid-term exam due.



Interpretation theory, cognitive models, and strategies.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 295 - 358]

[lab tape CT-78]




Civil litigation and private depositions.

[Photocopied handouts.]

[lab tape ACL-6]



Immigration proceedings. Code of ethics and professional conduct.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 473-521; 585-586, 597-598 + Photocopied handouts.]

[lab tape ASL-7, CT-79]



Career development.

[Reading: Textbook pp. 451 - 463; 523 - 554, 591 - 593]

[lab tape CT-44]



Final Exam   12:30 - 3:15 p.m. at the same classroom

(Bring your tape recorder.)




¡Buena  suerte  y  feliz  verano!