Training interpreters and translators for courts and public authorities – a further education course at the University of Hamburg
George Drummond, Conference Interpreter AIIC, Member of the AIIC Committee for Court and Legal Interpreting Interpreter Trainer
Against a background of extensive globalisation and internationalisation the need for translators and interpreters for courts and public authorities has increased. This demanding task requires not only excellent language skills but also a well-founded knowledge of legal matters and experience of various interpreting techniques. In addition court interpreters must reflect their role as impartial, confidential intercultural mediators placing foreigners who are not fluent in the language of the proceedings on an equal footing with native speakers.
There is therefore a great burden of responsibility on the court interpreter to ensure that court proceedings are conducted with respect for basic human rights of access to justice.
The purpose of the course offered by the University of Hamburg is to provide an opportunity for translators, interpreters, lawyers and other candidates with the necessary language skills to qualify as sworn interpreters to work for courts and public authorities from and into German.
The course comprises a detailed introduction into legal and official procedures and areas where court and legal interpreters may be employed. It also deals with interpreting and translating techniques relevant to work at court and with public authorities.
This a part-time course within the further education programme, organised over a period of 10 months (October – July) comprising 141 teaching hours in class and approx. 300 hours of self study. The written and oral examinations are in conformity with the statutory requirements of §§ 6,7 HmbDolm-VO and are recognised by the Department of the Interior as equivalent to the official test, corresponding to 14 points of the European Credit Transfer System.
The class work consists of 9 weekend seminars and 1 weekend of examinations.
Training and tuition are provided by practicing interpreters, language specialists of the University of Hamburg, judges at the Hamburg courts, practitioners from the police departments and public authorities and legal practitioners.
There is a maximum of 26 participants with up to 7 language groups. The language selection depends inter alia on the number of suitable candidates and the requirements of courts and authorities. Albanian, Arabic, BCS, Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, Farsi, French, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, Rumanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, German Sign Language are the languages covered to date.
The success of the course indicates that it could be possible to adapt the current structure, offering a European Master Course in court and legal interpreting as a means of continuous professional development within the further education programme of the University of Hamburg, a milestone on the road to recognition of the professional status of legal interpreters and translators.