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Interpreter course interview practice - help with lessons

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Joined: 27 Dec 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:36 am    Post subject: Interpreter course interview practice - help with lessons Reply with quote

I wonder if anyone could give me some guidance on a students i've just begun teaching (private 1:1).

The lady is a Japanese student, Toeic score 850+, who plans to apply for a paraprofessional interpreting course in Sydney in the new year. She has also been studying written translation and has just begun to take on professional assignments, one of which I have checked over and needed quite a bit of work. She's fairly fluent and has a fantastic vocabulary - she has a real talent for memorising - but makes quite a lot of accuracy errors (articles, past tense and perfect aspect agreements etc) as well as the usual Japanese pron mistakes. Her listening comp lags slightly behind her spekaing due to her lack of exposure to english day-to-day I imagine.

The main focus of the lessons is to prepare her for a phone interview that will also serve as an informal level assessment. If she fails she will have to take the IELTS.

The kind of questions she expects based on what they told her include - talking about herself, why she wants to take the course, current affairs etc so to begin with I formulated a list of graded questions for us to practice, and for me to also get a better idea of her strengths and weaknesses. The problem is she can memorise whole tracts of language which I think might be her undoing in the interview if she gets stuck or is asked a slighlty different question. I attempted to address this when practicing interview questions with her and also encouraged her to write some notes or prompt cards rather than repeat stuff verbatim that she's practiced, but being very busy she hasn't got round to this yet, and is keen to practice different questions in future lessons.

In the the third week I changed tack with her and did a news article lesson which lead to some great informal chat that really excercised her fluency skills and shook her out of her tendency to hesitate whilst trying to remember/translate in her head.

To get down to what I need help with:

1. Any advice or suggestions on what questions to expect for a paraprofessional interpreting course (TAFE) phone interview/level assessment? I've actually emailed them myself to ask but had no response so far. The website states candidates must have "Sufficient oral and written fluency in English and another language to be able
to move easily between formal and informal aspects of the other language and ofEnglish. Familiarity with general vocabulary of the two languages. Language entry levels may be assessed by means of bilingual oral and written tests."

2. I'm relatively inexperienced with higher level students, and in the limited time we have (the interview is in late January) I'm unsure what is best to tackle. We could spend a lot of time looking at accuracy but I'm not sure how much this would benefit her in such a short space of time, particularly as it may dent her confidence for the interview. Because of the imminent deadline i'm really struggling to focus in on particular language points or find/think up really useful structured activities for her rather than just going over interview questions.

My initial idea for the next lesson is to go back to the interview questions and break them down further... e.g. spend some time on "tell me a little about yourself" for example and go into it in more detail, elicit more vocab, make it link back to the course she's applying for as if it were a plain academic/job interview. I've also asked her to write up some questions she'd like to ask them during the phone interview as homework which we'll check over in the lesson.

We probably have another 4/5 lessons to go before she does the interview so every one will count. Any advice or guidance would be very gratefully received as I'm feeling quite a lot of responsibility right now, this course is a real life dream of hers!

Many thanks in advance.
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Joined: 06 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:53 pm    Post subject: Focus on grammar Reply with quote

Sounds like you are really dedicated in helping her. Given that the interview will most probably be a straight out assessment of language ability I would do lots of speaking practice focusing on accuracy of especially the past tense. If, as you say, she is making errors with the past tense I feel this would be the main thing holding her back at this stage.

Hope this was helpful.
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Joined: 27 Dec 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Melichan your advice was really useful. As we focused on fluency last time I think you're right, past tense is undoubtedly going to come up a lot and its something she does have problems with. I'll have a think over NY break!
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