What I Learned at the Court Interpreting Training Institute

08/26/2019 05:26 | Anonymous

Written by Natalia L. Rivera Fernández, 2019 NOTIS Tuition Scholarship Recipient 

Natalia L. Rivera Fernández is a Spanish/English WA Certified Court and Medical Interpreter, Certified Document Translator, and CEO at Need a Translator Interpreting, LLC (NATI).

This summer, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the University of Arizona’s Court Interpreter Training Institute (CITI). In June, I participated in a series of webinars covering a wide range of topics, from ethics to weaponry and medical terminology. In July, I attended the intensive in-person two-week component in Tucson, Arizona. On-site, I spent my time in a classroom and language laboratory setting. There are several lessons I learned from this experience for which I couldn’t be more grateful.

To begin, I learned the importance of repetition of the same exercise for rapid improvement of simultaneous interpretation. In the language laboratories, we would listen to a recording, record ourselves interpreting simultaneously, then review new terminology. Afterward, we would record ourselves interpreting again while referring to our notes, if needed. We would repeat this exercise several times, each time trying to do better while referring less to our notes. The following morning, we would have a “re-lab,” repeating the exercise one or two final times without using notes. As one of our excellent instructors, Carmen Patel, put it, this gave us the opportunity for the new knowledge to simmer, “just like a good pasta sauce.” It truly worked! I found myself improving every morning and being able to more quickly retrieve new words and keep up with increasingly faster simultaneous interpretation exercises.

Something else I learned at the CITI is the importance of studying with different colleagues for more effective and efficient learning. In doing consecutive and sight-translation exercises in groups of three or four, we would take turns interpreting specific sections of a document, and then alternating. I received constructive feedback, and I also learned new terminology by listening to different colleagues interpreting the same texts. Each one had a unique perspective and something to offer.

Furthermore, at the CITI, I learned firsthand the importance of networking to be able to find more opportunities in our field. For example, I learned about the interpreting and translation programs and credentials currently available in some Central American countries from a Guatemalan colleague. I also learned that by joining international interpreter Facebook groups, I may be able to find conference interpreting opportunities. 

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned at the CITI was the importance of supporting our newer colleagues in the profession. I was surprised to meet a newer colleague from Seattle who was looking for mentorship. As I consider myself still relatively new in the trade, it never would have occurred to me that someone would look up to me for mentorship. However, it quickly became clear to me that new colleagues are often looking for support and guidance as they learn their way around in our profession. I am grateful for having met my mentee. I have already started sharing with her what I have learned in the last few years as a freelance interpreter and translator. It seems that we are so much better when we work together. By sharing our knowledge, we elevate our profession. In turn, we are giving back to our communities at large, as everyone benefits from having higher-quality interpretation and translation services.


  • 09/08/2019 10:07 | Anonymous
    thank you for sharing, I am a certified medical interpreter, I am interested in court interpreting, and I have been practicing simultaneous technique whenever I have an opportunity, can you please let me know the next two week on-site training at U of Arizona Tucson, I will be really interested in attending, thank you!
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