SCICtrain 3

This year was a very special year for the annual SCIC Universities Conference, as we were celebrating its 20th edition!  The title of the conference was

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The conference aimed to address the fact that both the worlds of interpreting and teaching are going through big changes, and that we therefore need to keep up with the (new, modern) times. Besides the big 20th birthday cake and celebrations, there were presentations from SCIC representatives as well as from trainers from around Europe and one from a colleague from DG INTE. The focus of these presentations was how we can best make use of blended learning to help students to become successful professional interpreters; one in particular focussed on how SCICtrain can be used as a teaching tool to supplement our traditional on-site assistance.

SCICtrain was launched in 2014 as a virtual video library to provide students and others interested in a career in interpreting with practical examples of conference interpreting. We wanted to give a clear and simple explanation of the full extent of the intellectual process at work when interpreting, without concealing the complexity and demanding requirements of the job. SCICtrain is part of our SCICcloud Project – a virtual store of information on our Virtual Classes and other e-learning material, such as the Speech Repository and Podcasts. We see it as an important element in our reflections on future e-learning projects, as currently being discussed by our e-learning think tank, and as announced at the conference.

Thanks to the expertise of our ACI colleague, Lourdes de Rioja, we are now able to unveil the 3rd edition of SCICtrain. A further 35 video clips have been added, bringing the total number up to over 100 (116 to be exact). A lot of time, effort and resources have gone into making this impressive library which includes a whole range of different kinds of clips: for example ‘talking-heads’ on what interpreting is all about, or on the importance of being able to prioritize information or manage stress; interviews about what it is really like to freelance for SCIC; mock tests to show students what to expect and of course demonstrations of professional-level consecutive and simultaneous interpretation.

New languages have been added (there are demonstrations of English into Portuguese in both modes and English into Dutch in both modes), as well as further videos about interpreting into a B- language. The structure of the library has also changed slightly, so you will now find the following categories:

– About SCICtrain and SCIC (6 videos)

– What is interpretation? (6 videos)

– Learning to interpret (12 videos)

– Consecutive interpretation (5 ‘theory-based’ videos and 27 ‘demonstration’ videos)

– Simultaneous interpretation (3 ‘theory-based’ videos and 27 ‘demonstration’ videos)

– Retour/B-language (5 ‘theory-based’ videos and 12 ‘demonstration’ videos)

– Tests (4 videos)

– Working as an interpreter (8 videos)

We hope that with the new videos and the new structure, SCICtrain will be even more useful for both trainers and students.

Many thanks to all the SCIC interpreters who have been involved with the project, and to Lourdes de Rioja.

Claude DURAND, a life dedicated to interpreting

If I remember well in which mood I was in June 1974 after I passed my final exam at ESIT in Paris, I felt a sigh of relief at the thought that I had finally reached the end of a very demanding training path, but in the back of my head I feared that this decisive step would only mark the beginning of a new challenge; in a word, I was wondering whether embarking on a conference interpreter’s career would enable me to grow and make my dreams come true.

Now that I am soon to retire as a manager from the largest interpreting service of the world, I look back on all these years with a deep sense of satisfaction and thankfulness towards this profession and all the wonderful people who have accompanied me along this exciting journey, starting with my first mentors such as the late and regretted Danica Seleskovitch.

As a young student I had often been fascinated by the discrete but pivotal role which interpreters would play in facilitating intercultural communication between statesmen, business managers, scientist or simple citizens. They would apply their language knowledge and skills to the discussion of all sorts of burning topics and at the same time contribute to giving a positive turn to “globalisation”- though this concept hardly existed in the 70s. As a graduate, I was eager to join this strange family of language mediators who followed the never-ending movement of the modern world and learned new things every day with each new professional experience.

I was given the opportunity to embark on this trail when I was recruited in 1977 as a permanent staff interpreter by the European Commission in Brussels. There could not have been a better place for me to witness how efficiently a genuine form of international cooperation can create a virtuous circle between states or people and how strongly the accelerating pace of change pushes us professionals to constantly try to adjust to new situations and challenges.

I was also very lucky because I was permitted or even encouraged to diversify my tasks and activities while working as an interpreter. Very soon I became involved in training new recruits for the European Commission at a time when an intense in-house scheme allowed us to transform rigorously selected graduates into skilful interpreters within a period of six months under the supervision of experienced professionals. Drawing lessons from a regular face-to-face with young trainees, I developed an interest in defining, structuring and fine-tuning training methods for would-be interpreters and I realised on the way that there was nothing more rewarding in life than passing on knowledge and know-how to the next generation.

I left the booth in 2004, after 30 years as a practising interpreter and started a manager’s career but in all my successive tasks and responsibilities I always maintained a close link with the interpreting profession which gave me so much pleasure and opportunities. With the help of other talented professionals, I inter alia contributed to creating new e-learning tools such as SCICtrain – a fascinating adventure which I shared with Lourdes de Rioja and a group of dedicated DG SCIC trainers – and to assisting interested students in better understanding the process and techniques of interpretation.

Today just as 40 years ago, becoming a good conference interpreter remains a demanding challenge. This profession requires excellent language skills, a rich general knowledge – Wikipedia will not save you when you are struggling with a rapid and sophisticated speech to be interpreted in simultaneous mode! -, a taste and talent for communication and exchange in all spheres of society, a lot of hard work…and a real passion for it! This passion has inspired me during my whole career in European institutions and I sincerely hope that it will be as present and vivid in the next generation.

Claude DURAND, DG SCIC, European Commission.

29 May 2015

SCICtrain 2

The 19th Annual SCIC-Universities Conference took place in Brussels on 26th and 27th March 2015 on the theme “(Re-)Making connections”. The world of Interpreting is evolving and all of us, universities and institutional employers alike, must adapt to new circumstances and user requirements by blending the use of new technologies with more traditional ways of teaching. We should aim to be at the forefront of changes in the educational approach, ensuring quality of content and accessibility so that our students have the opportunity to become successful professionals.

In this context, the second phase of our SCICtrain Project, which is available to the public after the Conference, is launched for the following purpose: to make SCIC’s knowledge and expertise available to interpreting students via a method that is used more frequently nowadays –  video-clips. Let’s remind ourselves what SCICtrain is about. It started in March 2014 as a virtual video library to provide students and others interested in a career in interpreting with practical examples of conference interpreting. We wanted to give a clear and simple explanation of the full extent of the intellectual process at work when interpreting, without concealing the complexity and demanding requirements of the job. SCICtrain is part of our SCICcloud Project – a virtual store of information on our Virtual Classes and other e-learning material, such as the Speech Repository and Podcasts. We have also included a collection of videos on how to prepare for meetings with documents, “booth manners”, myths about tests, the pleasure of interpreting and other such subjects. These have been incorporated into the different sections/shelves of our virtual library.

FOTO OFICIAL PRESENTACION SCICtrain 2

Javier Hernandez Saseta, Head of unit “Multilingualism and interpreter training support”, DG SCIC, European Commission and Lourdes De Rioja.

 In addition, as we wanted this platform to be multilingual, amongstthe new series of video clips, which are between 5 and 20 minutes long, we included interpretation demonstrations (both consecutive and simultaneous) into more languages (i.e. French, German, Italian and Spanish) as well as ones illustrating retour (from Latvian and Polish into English).

Cooperation with our ACI colleague, Lourdes de Rioja, on the first phase of SCICtrain has been extremely fruitful. We have continued to work together on the second phase in order to produce something new, while keeping the same format and principles which our users have been so positive about.

Javier Hernandez Saseta, Head of unit “Multilingualism and interpreter training support”, DG INTERPRETATION, SCIC, EUROPEAN COMMISSION.

SCICtrain

SCICtrain – a new virtual video library on conference interpreter training

On 28th March, the second day of the annual SCIC-Universities conference, and as a follow-up to the SCiCLOUD initiative announced exactly a year before by Mr Brian Fox, DG SCIC launched “SCICtrain“, a new virtual video library on conference interpreter training offered by DG SCIC interpreter/trainers.

SCICtrain

C. Durand, L. De Rioja, M. Benedetti

For some years, DG SCIC had been playing with the idea of conveying important information on conference interpreter training  using online video material, because we were aware that young people and students have become more and more attracted by the power of image, by new technologies in general, and by new approaches for acquiring information and knowledge. Without abandoning on-site training assistance – which remains of paramount importance in the teaching process – we felt that distance learning tools such as the Speech Repository, Virtual Classes and other still-to-be-invented didactic resources had a rapidly growing potential and would be a perfect supplement to our traditional on-site assistance to universities.

What we were looking for was a virtual video library which would show students or other young people practical examples of what conference interpreting is. We wanted to explain and decompose the intellectual process at work in a clear and simple way but without concealing the sophistication of the exercise and the demanding requirements of the job.

We were lucky enough to find someone who had everything that it takes to turn this idea into a concrete project: our ACI colleague Lourdes de Rioja, who a few years ago had created a personal website and a blog on conference interpreting which many of us have regularly visited, called “A Word In Your Ear”. It is this unique profile combining cinema, interpreting and training expertise which, at the end of 2013, led DG SCIC to entrust Lourdes with the task of implementing what has become known as the “SCICtrain” project.

deRiojaToday, SCICtrain contains 41 video-clips which were shot by Lourdes on DG SCIC premises (except Dick Fleming’s two presentations, filmed in La Laguna, Tenerife) between January and March 2014 and whose actors are all (active or former) DG SCIC interpreters with a strong interest in training the next generation. Most of them take part in regular Pedagogical Assistance missions and/or are involved in Virtual Classes with partner universities, and some are senior trainers who had already gained a rich expertise at the time when DG SCIC used to run an in-house training scheme.

The virtual video library is divided into 6 sections:

– a general presentation given by our Director General Marco Benedetti;

– an introduction to conference interpreting;

– consecutive interpreting;

– simultaneous interpreting;

– other techniques (such as retour interpreting);

– other resources and tools (subjects such as the importance of the mother tongue, self-training, “culture générale”, etc).

Please take a look at the various modules which are 5 to 20 minutes long and are a mixture of theoretical presentations (but with many practical tips) and real demonstrations in which DG SCIC interpreters have tried to show and explain how fascinating the interpreting profession can be.

Claude DURAND, Head of unit  “Multilingualism and interpreter training support”, DG INTERPRETATION, SCIC, EUROPEAN COMMISSION.