Center for Advanced Studies Abroad

Translating + Interpreting

Program available in:

This program will cover the fundamentals of translating and interpreting and provide an introduction to Contemporary Spanish Culture. Based in Alicante, Spain on the sunny Mediterranean coast, the in-class components of the program will be complemented by the immersive experience of living with a local host family and a full schedule of cultural activities, including a professor-led weekend excursion to either Madrid or Granada and local visits to the Castillo Santa Barbara and Lucentum, the Roman ruins that are a monument to the rich history of the city of Alicante.



Goals: Translating and interpreting are related fields that offer Spanish majors an additional field of professional endeavour to complement teaching or as a full-fledged professional career in its own right. Once students have achieved an adequate level of proficiency in their second language, introducing the basic techniques and strategies of interlingual and intercultural communication in both its written (translation) and oral (interpretation) forms will provide students with the information they need to decide whether to pursue this field and continue to hone their skills. This course is designed to offer students an introduction to those techniques and strategies and to provide practice in translating general written documents and carrying out sight translations and consecutive interpreting exercises. Students must have a high intermediate level of proficiency in Spanish.

Methodology: The course will be predominantly practical, with the theoretical concepts interwoven in the practice exercises. Students will translate texts from the very first day, with the first texts selected to highlight basic techniques and later texts being more complex in nature. Interpreting exercises will be carried out in class and guided by the professor.


Week 1: Translation 15 hours

  1. Introduction to the art and science of translating. Words versus meaning versus sense. Literal versus free translations. Where is the line?
  2. The basic steps in the translation process: reading and comprehending, discourse analysis, understanding the audience and purpose of the translation, reformulation, adaptation and polishing.
  3. Understanding translating techniques and when they are appropriate to use: transference, modulation, compensation, insertions, omissions, paraphrasing, periphrasis, descriptive and dynamic equivalencies, translator notes, etc.
  4. Specific problems and how to approach them: culturally bound words or concepts, the translation of proper names, regionalisms, idiomatic expressions, register, contextual influences, interference and calques, understanding syntactic, stylistic and rhetorical conventions in the source and target language.
  5. Documentation and research. Dictionaries and glossaries: types, uses and limitations. Internet resources, how to use them and how to avoid common pitfalls. Comparative documents.
  6. Final proofreading and polishing of translated document. Adaptation of translated text to the conventions of the target language.

Week 2: Interpreting 15 hours

  1. Introduction to oral interpreting: nexus and divergences between translating and interpreting.
  2. Conference v. community interpreting. Main characteristics and contexts of use.
  3. Modes of interpreting: Sight translation, consecutive, simultaneous, summary. Definition and skill sets needed. Use and appropriateness of each mode.
  4. Preparation: the key to solving unexpected problems as they arise. How to prepare.
  5. Ethical considerations in human communication and interaction.


Week 3: Professional Issues and practice sessions (12 hours)

  1. The professionalization of translating and interpreting. Issues, current state of affairs, importance.
  2. Dealing with clients. How to know when to accept an assignment and when to decline.
  3. The business aspect: agencies v. freelancing v. associations; civil liability and taking responsibility for your work; fee schedules, invoicing and collecting compensation for work; keeping records, etc.
  4. Group translation project and presentation of results.


Materials, texts and equipment: In order to successfully complete this course, students should bring a lap-top computer for research purposes and document preparation. Translators cannot work without an internet connection (available in class and at the host families). All texts and class materials will be provided by the professor. No textbook will be required. The majority of translations will be B > A, in other words, from the students B language (Spanish) to their A language (English). Interpretations will involve working in both directions.

Grading: Students will be expected to attend class and participate regularly. Daily work will be evaluated and form the basis for 60% of the final grade. There will be regular classwork, a final group project, and a final translating exercise done during the last class session. These will constitute 40% of the grade.



The main goal of language-based study abroad is for students to immerse themselves in a new culture and society, thereby having the opportunity to improve their language skills through daily use in real situations. However, language, as we all know, cannot be fully understood without learning about the culture (or cultures) in which it is used. In this

In this 1-hour per day complementary course, the purpose will be twofold:

1) to give students a structured view of Spanish society through a formal look at its institutions, current events and social issues: the political system, the educational system, the labor market, family life, leisure and cultural manifestations (art, music, festivals, etc).

2) to provide a forum in which students can explore cultural manifestations that they are experiencing in their daily interactions to try to come to understand how these developed and what they may mean. Issues that have been brought up in the past include inter-family relations (as observed in the homes), politeness markers, noise, non- personal interaction (between people who do not know each other), levels of civility, behaviors that may differ from home (PDAs, disciplining children in public, staring), the pace of life, the use of different registers of language, eating and sleeping habits, nightlife, and many others. The goal is to have students be able to discuss these cultural manifestations without falling into easy stereotypes or simple comparisons with their own known behaviors.

The combination of structured information with an open forum for discussion is an ideal approach in a study abroad situation. This course will be complemented by group activities in the city throughout the students’ period of residency.

Students may complete this program without requiring a student visa.

When do you want to go?

Click the season to see dates and credit information.


Term: Summer 2016

Dates:  TBD

Deadline: April 1, 2016

Credits: 4

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