Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Seal of Biliteracy: A much needed opportunity for bilingual students

I just learned a piece of news that makes me extremely happy. The governor of Colorado just signed a bill establishing a  Seal of Biliteracy program in that mountain state where I used to live, joining 18 other states that have already adopted it. Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, schools in Colorado can voluntarily adopt the Seal and recognize students who have attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation.

As explained in the document in the link below, the program values language as an asset that prepares students for college and career. Online job postings in Colorado for bilingual candidates nearly doubled in recent years and the demand for languages such as Spanish and Chinese has increased exponentially.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
As a translator and interpreter trainer, I am thrilled that language acquisition and development is encouraged in high school.  In recent years, I taught translation and interpretation in college. A large number of the students taking my classes were heritage speakers; that is, young people who grew up speaking a language other than English at home but did  not have a formal education in the language. These students knew that their language skills could increase their marketability when looking for a job and that they could pursue a career as a language professional. However, the lack of formal education in their heritage language was hard to overcome at the college level and in a program in which excellent language skills are required.  Heritage speakers in my classes seemed to be conscious of their lackings and would tend to not take full advantage of opportunities such as class discussions and providing and receiving valuable peer feedback on how to improve. This bill is also important for other students who are trying to learn a second language. It is a clear message that learning a second language means more work and life experience possibilities.
This link leads to a document that explains the Seal of Biliteracy, its purpose and benefits, and the path to follow for attaining it. It  is worth noting that students who obtain the Seal must be academically proficient in English and in a language other than English, which means that they have a strong academic background, which, of course, increases their chances of being successful in college.
I do hope that both parents and students are informed about this program well in advance so that students can be prepared to take this challenge that might change their lives forever.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Spring is finally here!

After a productive week in Washington D.C., we are back in our beloved Quebec City.

When we left, on May 17, trees had just begun to leaf out and only a few early flowers could be seen here and there.  This weekend, however, the sun is shining and the temperature is truly pleasant.  Yesterday, my husband, Dewayne Matthews, and I strolled  the streets of Old Quebec and visited a few museums, the Parc de la Artillerie and the Musée de la civilisation. We were out for about eight hours and enjoyed every minute. Hundreds of people were out enjoying the beautiful weather. 

Hundreds of tulips around Parliament

 Here are some pictures that I took with my mobile phone. I will take my real camera next time, although my iPhone does a decent job.

Dewayne reads a plaque on the Parliament building
Winters are long and cold in Quebec, there is no denying it, but there is so much to do and see.  And, as I always say, embracing winter is key.  Winters are beautiful and can be enjoyable. 

Parliament and the famous hotel Le Concorde in the distance. 
The revolving restaurant atop Le Concorde offers a
breathtaking view of the city and the majestic St. Lawrence River.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Update on NAJIT's 38th annual educational conference

The 38th Annual Conference of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and translators (NAJIT) “was a record breaker in every aspect” says Rob Cruz, NAJIT’s Executive Director, in a recent blog post.   Indeed it was.  I am thrilled.

On Friday, May 19,  the agenda featured ten pre-conference workshops, most of which were sold out.  There was also a bus tour that included stops at iconic government institutions such as the Capitol and the White House. Tour guide extraordinaire Agustín de la Mora accompanied the group and provided insightful descriptions. The main conference, held on Saturday and Sunday, included over 40 concurrent educational sessions.   I heard many comments from attendees that they had wanted to attend more than one session at a time. Cloning would have been handy.
On Monday, a group of NAJIT members visited with their representatives in Congress to advocate for the advancement of the profession. NAJIT’s number one advocacy priority is that courts work with certified interpreters and translators as defined in the document NAJIT advocacy 101 for interpreters and translators, about which I will write within the next few days.
My fellow board members and I are thrilled by the success of our conference and remain committed to continue on this path for the 2018 edition, which will be held in San Francisco,  June 8th-10th at the Park 55 Hotel

Extensive thanks to all who contribute to the advancement of our organization and profession.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Two exciting conferences coming up

 Two activities that are dear to my heart are coming up:  the annual educational conference of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters (NAJIT), where I serve as board member and treasurer, and the Summer Institute of Jurilinguistics of the McGill University School of Law.

1.       NAJIT's 38th Annual Conference will start next week, May 19th to the 21st, at the Hilton McLean Tyson's Corner in McLean, Virginia.  This year's conference is set to be NAJIT’S biggest event EVER; with an expected turnout of 350 attendees. As always, it will include pre-conference workshops on specialized topics on Friday and concurrent sessions on a wide array on topics on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday noon, the luncheon and annual membership meeting will feature Henry  Liu, President of the Fédération Internationale des traducteurs, as keynote speaker.  Also, a first, there will be an Advocacy day on Monday, May 21. Organized by the Advocacy Committee, Advocacy Day is an opportunity for interpreters and translators to lobby their Representative , Senators, or their aides at their offices in the U.S. Capitol. A set of guidelines titled Interpreting 101 for Translators and Interpreters was developed by the Advocacy Committee.   I will be blogging about this document soon.

Finally, the great turnout for the NAJIT conferences in 2016 and 2017 can be attributed to the relevant presentations, many of which are eligible for Continuing Education Units admissible in over 25 states.

2.       Organized by the Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law of McGill University’s Faculty of Law, the Summer Institute of Jurilinguistics will be held on Friday, June 16, 2017 at the Desaultels Faculty of Management at McGill University in Montreal. The theme of this 11th edition of the Institute is Law(s), Language(s) & Society(ies) / Droit(s), langue(s) et société(s).
Jurilinguistics is the study of the interaction between linguistics and law.  The law could not exist without language, and this relationship is an extraordinarily rich of field of study. I am looking forward to seeing my friend and mentor, Jean-Claude Gémar, who has championed jurilinguistics in Canada. As stated on the site of the Translation Bureau, jurilingusitics has evolved since its inception in the early 1980s from legislation and translation to now include lexicography and terminology, the drafting of all types of legal texts, and their revision and interpretation. In other words, it includes professionals in a wider array of fields. This year, the program includes sessions on translation and linguistic identity in multilingual legal settings, effectiveness of court interpreters, accessibility of the law, and bilingual interpretation in Canadian law.

Registration is required and the fee is 55CAD.  At first neither registration nor a fee were required to attend. Later, registration was required and more recently a modest fee was added as the Institute evolved.  The Institute has submitted an application to be accredited as a continuing education activity by the Barreau du Québec and the Chambre des notaires.  

It is exciting to see that both activities represent an opportunity for professionals to keep abreast of the latest developments in the field and earn continuing education credit while doing it. In the United States, more and more states are requiring interpreters to earn continuing education credit to keep their accreditation. Interpreting is finally reaching the ranks of other mature fields that require professionals to maintain and improve their competency to protect the public.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A new beginning

Until recently, I have been focused on my professional field, leaving little to no room here for my personal interests. When I first created this blog, the idea was to write articles about translation and interpretation. I truly wanted to generate content instead of posting what others had written. I quickly came to the realization that doing that requires quite an investment in time and effort, and that there are many sources from which to draw information on the field. Just take a look at the blogs I follow. I kept trying nonetheless, at times after a long hiatus.

While my interest in this field will continue to be very present, I will also be posting articles, thoughts, and blurbs on a wide array of topics. Also, my posts are likely to be in several languages, including English, French, and Spanish.