Court Interpreter Shadowing Program – An up-date by Carlota Dalziel

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.

Court Interpreter Shadowing Program

The DVTA is honored to announce that it was asked by Judge Chen and the First Judicial District to be part of the Court Interpreter Shadowing Program, the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

After a comprehensive selection process of interpreters of languages the FJD is in need of, the DVTA named two DVTA members to participate in this program: Jola Bronstein (Polish) and Eassa Faheem (Arabic). We thank all other interpreters who submitted their applications! The decision was not easy due to the high level of excellence, skills, and professionalism of our members in general.

The Court Interpreter Shadowing Program is an eight-month program in which the chosen interpreters shadow the FJD’s staff interpreters once per month and rotate throughout the Criminal Court, Family Court, Municipal Court and other courts, while attending seminars regarding topics related to court interpreting. This program shall support interpreters in their effort to become court certified.  The Widener Legal Institute and the FJD’s vendors were also asked to name each two interpreters.

The program is an exciting opportunity for candidates to receive first-hand information from the court and to be able to interact with experienced court staff interpreters directly. The speakers for the monthly seminars have been thoroughly selected by Judge Chen and her team. Gabriela Jenicek has been assigned as the representative of DVTA for the program due to her background in interpreter training and her previous involvement at the court as independent trainer, specialized in Code of Ethics. The program kicks off the first week of March and the DVTA is happy to keep our members informed about the progress throughout the length of this historic program.