Note: This program is not being offered in the Summer 2017 semester.
With nearly one in five Americans identified as speakers of languages other than English, the US legal system is seriously short of trained interpreters. From as early as 1978, President Carter’s Court Interpreters Act mandated that all persons linguistically disadvantaged or hearing impaired be provided with certified or otherwise qualified court interpreters in federal court. Since 2000, the Clinton Executive Order 13166 has further stipulated that all public sectors provide full language access to persons of low English proficiency (LEP). In American society today, legal interpreting is not an option but rather a necessity.
The Professional Diploma in Legal Interpreting (Mandarin Chinese/English) is a first step toward a rewarding vocation as a much-sought-after interpreter of court and legal matters. As a student in this one-semester, blended (mix of online and in-person) diploma, you will receive a thorough induction into the US system of justice, learning legal terminology, court proceedings, and the ethics of court interpreting. You will undergo rigorous training in the actual work of interpreting, simulating day-to-day client-attorney consultation, public administration, civil litigation, and criminal trial and investigation. You will receive hands-on practice interpreting between English and Chinese between LEP subjects (deponents, litigants, applicants, witnesses), lawyers, and public officials (the police, judges, arbitrators, etc.). By performing and observing others perform, you will learn the essentials of consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, covering such proceedings as pretrial, deposition, discovery, cross-examination, arraignment, sentencing, and summation. As part of the course work, you will produce a personal portfolio composed of a glossary of legal terms, a legal interpreter’s journal, and an audio work sample. The program will culminate with a final exam, which also will serve as preparation for certification with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) or the NYS Unified Court System. (See information concerning interpreter certification at for NCSC here and for the NYS Unified Court System here.)
Note: A language proficiency test is required for admission to this diploma.
Conceived as course requirements that also serve as concrete “exhibits” for prospective employers, the work product will consist of a starter glossary of legal terms, a work sample, and a legal interpreter’s journal, which will cumulatively compose your court interpreter portfolio. The glossary of legal terms will serve as a personal resource (in print and digital format) to be updated and expanded upon throughout your interpreting career. The work sample will be a compilation of five minutes of an audio or video recording of your own interpreting, and this along with selected journal notes, may be uploaded as a shared digital file (optionally to be accessible on YouTube). The journal will represent an ongoing record of actual interpreting practice with your own notation on case histories and linguistic, ethical, and other issues encountered during practice interpreting. In all, the three work products described above will serve as your court interpreter portfolio, which will be fully presentable to prospective employers. The official website UScourts.gov, maintained by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and Federal Judiciary, will serve as the main source of reference for the content delivery, including assessment of this and other work products within this diploma. For terminological reference, see uscourts.gov/glossary.
- Consecutive interpreting skills in Chinese
- Simultaneous interpreting skills in Chinese
- The ability to discern style and register differences between different parties in a legal proceeding
- The ability to assemble, organize, and draw upon a glossary of legal terms
- Court Interpreter
- Legal Interpreter (at a law firm or with a language service provider)
- Administrative Aide (at a law firm)
- Assistant Paralegal
- Freelance Legal Interpreter and Translator (on a project basis)
You'll Walk Away With
- The ability to interpret clearly and accurately between English and Chinese in legal matters or court proceedings between LEP persons, lawyers, and public officials
- The ability to interpret appropriately and impartially based upon knowledge of the US judiciary system
- Dramaturgical strategies (staging, cuing, verbal shadowing, note-taking) and stress management principles for delivering effective moment-to-moment interpreting
- Knowledge of legal terminology and the practice of keeping this knowledge current in the course of interpreting exacting legalese or richly varied human narratives
- Best practices in interpreting, based upon the court interpreter's code of ethics and an empathetic perspective on the economic and political disparities that prevail in the US system of justice