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Assessment Issues in Language Translation and Interpreting

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Dina Tsagari and Roelof van Deemter

The need for reliable and valid assessments of translator and interpreter skills has been widely acknowledged inside and outside these professions and the (language) testing community. Despite this agreement, the actual assessments which serve as gatekeepers for professional translators and interpreters do not always live up to the expectations. The focus of the volume is on the assessment of translator and interpreter skills leading to authorization, accreditation, registration and certification in different countries of the world. Apart from the description of the different assessment systems, the chapters shed light on the intricate social, political and financial issues influencing the choices that lead to a specific kind of assessment.

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Part I. General Issues in Assessing Language Translation and Interpreting

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Part I General Issues in Assessing Language Translation and Interpreting 15 How Do We Assess Students in the Interpreting Examinations? Fred S. Wu1 Newcastle University, United Kingdom The field of assessment in interpreter training is under-researched, though trainers and researchers have pointed out urgent issues to be addressed in this field. Among them, issues surrounding test validity and reliability are most in need of clarification. This study tackles this subject by exploring what examiners really pay attention to when assessing student interpreters, and verifies the concerns about judgement consistency in interpreting examinations. Based on the study findings, a concep- tual model is proposed as a framework for further explorations into the relationships and interactions between the elements of interpreting assessment. Key words: simultaneous interpreting, assessment criteria, examiner behaviour, test reliability. 1. Introduction With the ever increasing international demand for multilingual communication, there has been a boom in demand for training conference interpreters. To ensure the quality of interpreter training, assessment is crucial. In interpreter education, assessment usually refers to evaluating students’ learning outcomes, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, which normally involves assigning a mark or a grade to the students’ performances. There are problems, however, when interpreting assessment methods are scrutinised by using fundamental concepts of assessment, like validity and reliability, from more established disciplines, such as language testing and educational assessment. The design and administration of interpreting exami- nations in many higher education institutions still heavily rely on the profes- sional experience of staff, often with no basis in...

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