Spanish-English Translation and Interpretation

The closely related fields of translation and interpretation are becoming increasingly important in today's society. With the growing importance of Spanish, the need for qualified interpreters and translators continues to rise. The translation and interpretation program at Northwestern College has been developed to equip you with the necessary knowledge, tools and abilities to become a competent interpreter and translator.

Successful professional interpreters and translators have a wide range knowledge in many subject areas. As such, a liberal arts education is key to future success in the field, and as an interpretation and translation major, you are encouraged to take additional courses in different subject areas. Furthermore, the seven specific courses in translation and interpretation are designed to give you the necessary theoretical platform for successful translation and interpretation. As you advance through the program, you will learn to apply the theoretical principles as well as the knowledge acquired in other liberal arts courses in order to achieve superior translation and interpretation outcomes.

The translation and interpretation program is intended for incoming bilingual students and requires a minimum of seven semesters to complete. (Those students who are seeking to improve their knowledge of Spanish should enroll in the regular Spanish major.) During the earlier courses in the program, the focus will be on translating and interpreting from your B language into your A language; however, as you progress through the program, there will be increasing emphasis on working from the A language into the B language as well. Courses focus on a wide range of subject areas and include a strong emphasis on service learning--thereby providing you with real-world experience--as well as with an ongoing focus on moral, ethical and Christian considerations for interpreters and translators.

Not only is Northwestern's program one of just a handful at the baccalaureate level in the United States, but the college has also invested in the necessary training resources for its students. Translation and interpretation majors have a dedicated interpreting laboratory with 13 soundproof booths, an interpreting booth as part of the college's main venue for many public events, and portable equipment. In the final year of the program, you will participate in a practicum experience in which you will be in the community as a professional interpreter and translator. Not only will you provide an important service to the community, but you will also acquire valuable experience and apply what was learned in the classroom. The practicum is the final step of the Northwestern program before you begin a career in interpretation and translation or proceed to graduate study in the field.

Student Learning Goals:

Upon successfully attaining a B.A. in translation and interpretation, you will:

  1. Be able to translate general written documents from your B language into your A language at a quality level that would be acceptable at a professional level without additional major revisions or editing.
  2. Be able to translate general written documents from your A language into your B language at a quality level that would be acceptable at a professional level with a limited amount of additional revision or editing.
  3. Be able to interpret consecutively from your B language into your A language for a general speaker of that language for segments of up to one minute without major meaning errors or major omissions.
  4. Be able to interpret simultaneously from your B language into your A language for a general speaker of that language without major meaning errors or major omissions.
  5. Understand the theoretical principles of translation and interpretation and be able to apply them in your translation and interpretation and thereby attain goals #1 and #2.
  6. Be able to sight-translate general documents from your B language into your A language.
  7. Have developed lifelong learning habits that include reading a wide array of materials in both languages from many different disciplines.
  8. Understand and be able to apply the moral and ethical considerations for translators and interpreters, as well as your role as a Christian in these fields.
  9. Be able to handle and present yourself as a professional translator and interpreter, as well as react in a professional way to demanding and uncomfortable situations and translation and interpretation assignments.

Spanish department homepage

Major requirements

SPA 361 - Legal Interpreting I: Practice and Translation
An advanced level course introducing the students to the complex field of legal interpreting. The first of four courses, students will become familiar with the three interpreting modes - sight-translation, consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting - and will then focus on sight-translation; in addition, students will also learn the methods, techniques and problems involved in written legal translation. Students will work from English into Spanish and Spanish into English. All source materials will be legal/court related in nature. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the T&I program as demonstrated by a high level of fluency in both English and Spanish. (4 credits; alternate years, consult department)
SPA 362 - Legal Interpreting II: Practice and Ethics
An advanced level course building on the skills developed in the introductory course for the complex field of legal interpreting. The second of four courses, students will focus on consecutive interpreting, involving extensive note-taking and memory skills; in addition, students will also learn the intricacies of ethics for legal interpreters. Students will work from English into Spanish and Spanish into English. All source materials will be legal/court related in nature. Prerequisite: SPA 361. (4 credits; alternate years, consult department)
SPA 363 - Legal Interpreting III: Practice and Technology
An advanced level course building on the skills developed in the first two courses for the complex field of legal interpreting. The third of four courses, students will focus on the highly complicated skill of simultaneous interpreting, involving input and output at the same time; in addition, students will also learn about the different technologies and remote interpreting platforms that professional court interpreters use. Students will work from English into Spanish and Spanish into English. All source materials will be legal/court related in nature. Prerequisite: SPA 362. (4 credits; alternate years, consult department)
SPA 364 - Legal Interpreting IV: Practice and the Profession
An advanced level course building on the skills developed in the previous courses for the complex field of legal interpreting. The fourth of four courses, students will consolidate their skills of sight-translation, consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting as they prepare for certification exams; in addition, students will also learn about the intricacies and challenges of working as a professional, certified court interpreter. Students will work from English into Spanish and Spanish into English. All source materials will be legal/court related in nature. Prerequisite: SPA 363. (3 credits; alternate years, consult department)
SPA 371 - Medical Interpreting I: Practice and Translation
An advanced level course introducing the students to the complex field of medical interpreting. The first of four courses, students will become familiar with the three interpreting modes - sight-translation, consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting - and will then focus on sight-translation; in addition, students will also learn the methods, techniques and problems involved in written medical translation. Students will work from English into Spanish and Spanish into English. All source materials will be medical in nature. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the T&I program as demonstrated by a high level of fluency in both English and Spanish. (4 credits; alternate years, consult department)
SPA 372 - Medical Interpreting II: Practice and Ethics
An advanced level course building on the skills developed in the introductory course for the complex field of medical interpreting. The second of four courses, students will focus on consecutive interpreting, involving extensive note-taking and memory skills; in addition, students will also learn the intricacies of ethics for medical interpreters. Students will work from English into Spanish and Spanish into English. All source materials will be medical in nature. Prerequisite: SPA 371. (4 credits; alternate years, consult department)
SPA 373 - Medical Interpreting III: Practice and Technology
An advanced level course building on the skills developed in the first two courses for the complex field of medical interpreting. The third of four courses, students will focus on the highly complicated skill of simultaneous interpreting (involving input and output at the same time) and continue their practice of consecutive interpreting; in addition, students will also learn about the different technologies and remote interpreting platforms that professional medical interpreters use. Students will work from English into Spanish and Spanish into English. All source materials will be medical in nature. Prerequisite: SPA 372. (4 credits; alternate years, consult department)
SPA 374 - Medical Interpreting IV: Practice and the Profession
An advanced level course building on the skills developed in the previous courses for the complex field of medical interpreting. The fourth of four courses, students will consolidate their skills of sight-translation, consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting as they prepare for certification exams; in addition, students will also learn about the intricacies and challenges of working as a professional, certified medical interpreter. Students will work from English into Spanish and Spanish into English. All source materials will be medical in nature. Prerequisite: SPA 373. (3 credits; alternate years, consult department)
SPA 375 - Advanced Translation
An advanced level course, in which students will consolidate their skills in translation. Students will learn how to improve on earlier translations (either from their own translations or from others) as they target their translations for specific audiences. Course material will come from a broad array of religious, scientific, political and sociocultural sources, as well as materials stemming from community needs. Students will translate from English into Spanish. Prerequisites: Successful completion of either SPA361 & SPA362, Legal Interpreting I & II, or SPA371 & SPA372, Medical Interpreting I & II, or permission by instructor. (3 credits; alternate years, consult department)
Choose one course: 2 credits
SPA 312WI - Advanced Spanish Grammar
(3 credits)(Writing intensive) Advanced development of writing skills and a review of difficult grammar concepts. Students will be expected to write in a variety of contexts. Emphasis will be on the writing process. The majority of the assignments will be completed in steps including multiple drafts. Additionally, students will be expected to review grammar and complete some grammar exercises. Note: Taught in Spanish. Prerequisite: SPA 202 or equivalent proficiency.
SPA 327 - Hispanics in the U.S.
A wide-ranging study of the current situation of Hispanics in the United States. After an historical overview, a thematic approach will be taken to better understand the role of Hispanics in the United States and their growing influence. Possible topics include demographics, voting tendencies, purchasing power, Hispanic media, religion, labor laws, immigration, Spanglish and bilingualism, among others. Using interviews and research, the course will conclude with a study of our Hispanic neighbors here in northwest Iowa.Prerequisites: SPA202 and one 3-credit 300-level course.(3 credits, alternate years, consult department)

Total credits required: 36

Note: Internships range from 2-12 credits. The maximum credits applied to the major is noted under the 417 course designation.

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