Crafting an effective test : devising a model of aptitude testing for interpreter training

Gambrell, Simone Eden (2018-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Until very recently within the South African context, interpreting has carried a fairly low status, which could be attributed to the belief that any bilingual person, with or without training, has the ability to act as an interpreter. Remnants of this belief are still visible today and it can further be said that interpreting lacks recognition. Furthermore, the lack of professionalisation of the field means that unqualified but bilingual individuals can apply for and attain a role as an interpreter, whether they have the necessary skills or not. As a result, this contributes to lowering the overall quality of the interpreting profession. Therefore, it can be concluded that the proper selection, and training, of interpreting candidates would ensure that they meet all essential requirements and are fully prepared to face any professional assignment they might encounter. Aptitude tests for entrance to training courses may thus be a step on the path to improving interpreting quality and strengthening the professionalisation of the field. As a result, this study aimed to design a comprehensive, custom-made aptitude test for interpreting, relevant for the South African context, which can be used in practice to differentiate between those students who have the ability to succeed as interpreters and those who do not, in order to ultimately improve the quality of the professional field of interpreting. This aim was accomplished through a qualitative research design. First, a review of the available literature on interpreter aptitude testing was done, which produced a list of 18 aptitude tests. Yet, a further analysis showed that only eight of these tests had been proven to reliably predict aptitude for interpreting. Secondly, online surveys and in-person, semi-structured interviews were utilised to gather the opinions of interpreter trainers and potential interpreting students. The trainers were asked, among other questions, which cognitive and personality traits they would wish to test for in prospective students. The students, on the other hand, were asked, among other questions, to rate their confidence in successfully completing the different available aptitude tests on a Likert scale. Through this data, it was found that there is a need for aptitude testing for the training of interpreting students in South Africa, and that both trainers and students advocated its use. Moreover, it was possible to determine the most effective aptitude tests from among those that are available and, furthermore, those that would be easy to administer and complete, so as to properly test the desired trait and not a candidate’s test-taking abilities. In addition, there were various constraints on the eight proven interpreter aptitude tests, including skills to be tested for, ease of administration and completion, time allotted, fairness of the tests, ethics in administrating the tests, and cultural awareness. By factoring in these concerns, the eight tests were further narrowed down until a comprehensive model of aptitude testing, relevant for the South African context, was crafted. The administration of these tests was described with accompanying examples.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks het tolking tot heel onlangs ʼn baie lae status gehad wat moontlik toegeskryf kan word aan die oortuiging dat enige tweetalige persoon, met of sonder opleiding, die vermoë het om as tolk op te tree. Oorblyfsels van hierdie opvatting is vandag nog sigbaar en die nodige erkenning aan tolke skiet steeds te kort. Die gebrek aan professionalisering van die beroep beteken verder dat onopgeleide tweetalige individue aansoek kan doen as tolk en dus die rol vervul of hulle oor die nodige vaardighede beskik al dan nie. Dit lei daartoe dat die waarde van die tolkingsprofessie as geheel in die gedrang kom. Daar kan dus afgelei word dat die korrekte keuring en opleiding van tolkstudente ʼn bydrae kan lewer om te verseker dat sodanige kandidate aan alle noodsaaklike vereistes voldoen en dat hulle dan ook ten volle toegerus sal wees om enige professionele opdrag wat hulle mag teëkom, te kan uitvoer. Aanlegtoetse vir toelating tot opleidingskursusse kan dus gesien word as ʼn stap om die gehalte van die tolkdiens te verbeter sowel as om professionalisme te bevorder in die veld. In die lig hiervan is hierdie studie daarop gemik om ʼn omvattende, pasgemaakte aanlegtoets te ontwikkel vir tolking binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks wat in die praktyk gebruik kan word om te onderskei tussen studente wat die vermoë het om suksesvol te wees en diegene wat nie die vermoë het nie. Sodoende sal die gehalte van die professionele veld kan verbeter. Hierdie doelwit is bereik deur ʼn kwalitatiewe navorsingsontwerp. Eerstens word ʼn oorsig gebied van die beskikbare literatuur oor tolkaanlegtoetse wat gelei het tot ʼn lys van 18 sodanige toetse. By verdere ontleding is egter bevind dat slegs agt van hierdie toetse betroubaar is in die aanduiding van ʼn aanleg vir tolking. Tweedens is gebruik gemaak van aanlynopnames en semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude wat in persoon uitgevoer is om die menings van tolkopleiers en potensiële studente in te samel. Die opleiers is onder meer gevra vir watter kognitiewe en persoonlikheidseienskappe hulle graag sou wou toets in voornemende studente. Die studente daarenteen is onder meer gevra om aan te toon op ʼn Likertskaal hoeveel vertroue hulle sou hê om die verskillende aanlegtoetse suksesvol af te lê. Die data het getoon dat daar ʼn behoefte is vir ʼn aanlegtoets vir die opleiding van tolkstudente in Suid-Afrika en dit is beaam deur beide opleiers sowel as studente. Verder was dit moontlik om vas te stel watter aanlegtoetse die doeltreffendste was van die beskikbare toetse en watter maklik geadministreer en voltooi kon word sodat die gewenste eienskappe getoets word en nie die kandidaat se vermoë om die toets te voltooi nie. Verder is daar verskillende beperkings op die agt betroubare tolkaanlegtoetse gevind, insluitende vaardighede waarvoor getoets moet word, die administrasiewe las en voltooiing binne die toelaatbare tyd, die billikheid van die toetse, en kulturele bewustheid. Deur hierdie faktore in ag te neem, is die agt tolkaanlegtoetse verder afgeskaal om ’n omvattende model te ontwikkel wat relevant is vir die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Die administrasie van hierdie toetse word beskryf met gepaardgaande voorbeelde.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103322
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