What interpreting skills are critical to certify healthcare interpreters of ALL languages, additional Q&A

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At LEO’s 5th International Virtual Conference in June, Zoe Schutzman presented on interpreting skills critical for certified interpreters. We had many questions from the audience and didn’t have time to cover them all during live Q&A, so here are some of your additional questions answered. 

Q: How does one measure the language comprehension and mastery of the language that has not yet been developed to actually have a complete Certification Exam?

A: Keep in mind that the ETOE performance exam is intended for individuals who have completed the necessary training for healthcare interpreters (our prerequisite for all applicants) and feel ready to work as interpreters. In other words, the exam is for bilinguals who have fluency in both languages. We are not attempting to evaluate individuals ‘in training.’ In the new credential, the same way as in the currently offered credentials, we deploy a portfolio approach. In order to sit for any of our exams, applicants must first submit proof of their language proficiency in both English and language other than English, along with the proof of the high-school-level general education. After these are verified, applicants can sit for the CoreCHI knowledge exam which is a multiple-choice exam about healthcare interpreting. And only after they pass the CoreCHI exam, candidates may sit for an interpreting performance exam, ETOE, CHI-Arabic, CHI-Mandarin, or CHI-Spanish, to receive their interpreting performance credential. The ETOE exam will assess candidates’ cognitive interpreting skills and, additionally, their mastery of English. Where they have not yet developed mastery of English to the level needed for interpreting, this will be reflected in the nature of the errors that they make since the candidate is not actually interpreting, but being asked to stretch their English language skill and knowledge by way of the various cognitive tasks they perform, e.g., listening, reading, understanding, producing (all in English).

Q: Wouldn’t it be easier to have a vocabulary test?

A: Terminology, whether jargon-driven or conversational in nature, is of course a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to interpreting since interpreters operate in the language realm, which is comprised of words. However, it is just as much about how we engage with our languages and their component parts, i.e., how through cognitive-functional skills we are able to work within and between language systems to preserve accuracy across and between context specific messages as speakers deliver them. In addition, vocabulary or terminology tests would do little to distinguish bilingual individuals from candidates with interpreting skills.

Q: Was the certification test administered and the EtoE the same one or did the renditions differ? For the case study that is.

A: Great question! The CHI dual-language performance and the ETOE monolingual performance exams are separate and different. What is important to understand here is that, in designing the types of questions for the ETOE monolingual performance exam, we looked to the CHI dual-language performance exam question types/scales and mapped them to best reflect what the candidate is doing cognitively in the monolingual modality.

Q: I work at Intake Facility Shelter for Refugees, 12 hour shifts with medical staff. Can working at a Migrant/Refugee Shelter with Doctors & Nurses be seen as a source of CEUs for my CCHI Certification?

A: Another great question! Let’s start by clarifying that certification renewal consists of 2 types of requirements – work experience as a healthcare interpreter and continuing education (aka “CEUs”). From your description, it is not quite clear if you actually interpret at the shelter or perform other tasks. If your position is interpreting for doctors or nurses at the shelter, then the interpreting hours will count towards meeting our work experience requirement. We recommend you have a way of capturing the number of hours you interpret at the shelter as it is required to have verified proof of work experience (see more details here). Yet, these (or any) interpreting hours do not constitute continuing education (i.e., they will not count as CEUs).

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