Peer Interpreting at Migrant Support

Multilingual Manchester is working with Migrant Support* to deliver interpreter skills training as part of a project that seeks to understand migrant experience of English language learning, and translation and interpreting provision in the City of Manchester. The project is part of the Cross Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community programme sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Dr Rebecca Tipton is working with a group of advanced English language learners to develop interpreting skills designed to support research and facilitate awareness of how to progress to professional interpreter status through advanced training and accreditation.

The project places emphasis on peer interpreting, which is very different to the type of interpreting carried out by professional interpreters in public service settings. In peer interpreting, the interpreter is involved as a co-interviewer and co-discussant in the research interview, in addition to providing interlingual communicative support.

By sharing a background with the interviewee and experiences of language learning and translation and interpreting, the peer interpreter is able to shape the discussion with the lead interviewer and interviewee. The interpreter also has scope to re-interpret personal experiences of being interpreted for through involvement in the research process, which raises awareness of the impact of the interpreter on the unfolding interaction.

The training focuses on making a clear distinction between professional and peer interpreting. Hands-on activities support participants in developing basic skills of active listening, retention and interlingual communication, and case studies support insight into some of the linguistic and ethical challenges of professional interpreting and the importance of appropriate training.

Participants are then introduced to the role of the peer interpreter in the research process through simulated interview activities and group reflection. Involvement in the research involves mentoring and regular feedback. Participants will be invited to share their experiences with academics planning projects that would benefit from peer interpreter involvement.

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