RMIT academics will develop an innovative online program to train interpreters in rare community languages with the support of a Victorian Government grant.
RMIT’s Translating and Interpreting was awarded the $65,000 grant to create an online Skill Set to address the training needs of interpreters in regional Victoria and across the country.
Sedat Mulayim is the Program Manager and Convenor of Translating and Interpreting at RMIT.
“This is a significant contribution by the Victorian Government to fill a gap in the training of interpreters and translators who operate in languages that are not offered by any training provider or tested by accreditation authorities,” he said.
“This is a clear demonstration that the government is committed to do something about language barriers in some of the most the disadvantaged communities.
“Some major government departments engage interpreters in up to 245 languages and dialects to deliver their essential public services, but some of these languages are so rare or small in numbers that staff lack suitable formal training.”
Two other significant aspects of the project include developing a customised test for English proficiency, as well as an industry-specific psychometric and aptitude inventory.
The inventory may be used in screening for entry into the training, pre-screening for employment within major agencies, and identifying issues that can guide professional development initiatives.
“This sort of personality inventory is common in many other established professions but is rare in our field,” Mulayim said.
“Interpreters and translators provide a critical service within many demanding and stress-filled settings.
“We can’t assume that everyone can simply walk in and cope with the demands of this profession.
“We’ll be able to have an idea about likely ethical behaviour in key areas as conflicts of interest, impartiality and professional integrity.”
The development of the personality inventory involves two senior psychologists and researchers – Dr Merv Jackson and Dr Trish Melzer – from RMIT’s School of Health Sciences.
“We’re applying our higher education research capabilities and cross-disciplinary approach to our vocational education programs - using our dual sector experience and advantage to meet industry needs and produce research outcomes,” Mulayim said.
“It’s a marriage made in heaven, so to speak, for our industry.”
Mulayim is a big believer in delivering programs through a blended online learning model – in part as it allows training to be accessible for more people with suitable backgrounds.
“The idea is, by removing the barriers of distance, we can meet the demand in regions, other states - and even potentially offshore.”
No stranger to online learning, Mulayim created an online program two years ago with the help of government seed funding to address training needs in regional Victoria.
“We’ve developed and applied a ‘Community of Inquiry’, so that we can place technology in online learning within an online pedagogic framework specifically for our field,” he said.
“It is not just what technology you use, it is about how you use it for effective cognitive engagement, which is the key to learning.”
With colleague Miranda Lai, Mulayim also recently contributed a chapter on the subject in the recently published Interpreter Education in the Digital Age: Innovation, Access, and Change (Gallaudet University Press, 2015).
The Skill Set project adds to RMIT’s achievements and builds on the long and proud tradition at the University’s interpreting and translation program, which is committed to serve the needs of the industry and communities of Victoria.
“This is our 40th anniversary - we started in 1975, which makes our program one of the oldest in the country, and the only in an Australian dual sector university,” Mulayim said.
Story: Ash Hibbert