As a baby interpreting tutor and toddling workshop designer, I’ve spent a bit of time recently comparing interpreting curricula. We’re at a relatively privileged moment in history because there is, at last, some competition to Signature‘s monopoly on the vocational BSL education market, in the form of new arrivals iBSL.
Signature introduced two new Level 4 BSL qualifications late last year (just when we’d almost but not quite finished explaining the Level 4 / Level 6 changes to the community); they are largely the same course but controversially for some, one of them has an extra “Introduction to Interpreting” module bolted on. It’s this module that I’ve recently been teaching in-house for a local authority sensory service – more on that experience another time. The course doesn’t confer any status with any registration body: it is designed as a stepping stone for those who perceive some kind of gulf between Level 3 and Level 6, although I have a sneaking suspicion it was also intended to kerb or control those centres who have been audaciously creating their own “pre-Level X” and “Part 1 and Part 2” courses. (I don’t know who these teachers think they are, trying to design their own courses.)
Earlier this year, iBSL produced two Level 4s of their own: one is a “BSL Studies” course (ie. the language and nothing but) and the other is titled “Level 4 Certificate in BSL/English Bilingual Skills“, which at first glance seemed to be some of kind of introduction to interpreting, so I thought I’d compare the qualification specification to the Signature near-equivalent.
I immediately ran into this statement in the first section:
Note: It is stressed that this is not an interpreter qualification.
Slightly further on, we have this bizarre statement:
It is important to note that the key activity in this unit is the relaying of information from English to BSL or from BSL to English. The activity should not be constituted as interpreting. (emphasis theirs)
Now, I would probably have to consult my BSL/English Interpreting MA materials to be absolutely certain (pitched at Level 7 according the National Qualifications Framework, if you believe in that sort of thing), but I’m fairly sure that you can construct a reasonable work-a-day definition of the interpreting act along the lines of “relaying information from one language into another” – ideally you’d bolt on something about fidelity and cultural equivalence and stuff like that as well, but it’s a start. But maybe I’ve misunderstood all along.
At any rate, it makes my life simpler. If it’s not an interpreting qualification, I have no interest in teaching it.