The much anticipated eight- month Court Interpreter Shadowing Program got off to a successful start the first week of March. The first of its kind in PA, this program, which we owe to Judge Ida Chen from the First Judiciary District of PA and her team, provides support to interpreters who are preparing to take the PA certification exam. Chosen candidate interpreters shadow the FJD staff interpreters once a month and rotate throughout the Criminal, Family, Municipal, and other courts, while also attending seminars on court interpreting. The speakers for the monthly seminars are selected by Judge Chen and her team.
DVTA is playing a leadership role in collaborating with the First Judicial District to help its members to obtain opportunities in their profession. Two of its members were selected to participate in this pilot program: Eassa Faheem (Arabic) and Jola Bronstein (Polish). The first, recently provided the following feed back: “…It went very well last week. We were six interpreters (and candidate interpreters) divided into two groups. Jola, Michelle and I followed Letitia Nixon, professional Spanish <> English interpreter in CJC, and the other three followed Javier Aguilar, Professional Spanish <> English Interpreter for the Family Court. I personally gained a sense of the interpreting process in the court, and realized what a lot there is to be learned. We all met with Judge Chen (very nice personality), Janet Fasy (Deputy Court Administrator) and Doseann DiPrimio (Interpreter Coordinator), who were the speakers in our meeting. It was a very positive experience and I am excited and looking forward to continuing.”
DVTA has embraced Judge Chen’s initiative with enthusiasm. We are aware of the considerable number of interpreters, including those who have already become certified, who enter the field of interpreting with no courtroom experience whatsoever. An interpreter’s training should ideally include sessions where the student interpreter shadows experienced interpreters, thus complementing what theory teaches them. Clearly, a number of hours spent in courtrooms, experiencing the proceedings and mentally translating all that is being said, contributes greatly to enable an effective performance, with fewer pit-falls and avoidable errors. Most certification candidates do not go through this preparation and are likely to fail the exam. Nerves can betray even a well prepared candidate. It is our belief that this new endeavor, the Court Interpreter Shadowing Program, will go a long way towards providing candidates with the necessary experience and peace of mind to sit for the certification exam with a better chance of success. We feel that this program will effectively fill the experience gap in new interpreters, and we hope that it will eventually include training for student interpreters in all the languages that offer certification.