Drop the Mic: Strategies for Successful ASL to English Interpretation

August 30, 2016

The workshop presenter, Sonja Smith, has an M.A. as well as the NIC, BEI Master, and BEI Court credentials and a wealth of interpreting experience. In the workshop, participants examined areas critical for successful ASL to English interpretation, such as register and word choice. We also studied features of speech that indicate confidence; for example, using declarative vs. interrogative statements and avoiding hedges and fillers. Finally, we examined gendered discourse and the way it can influence perceptions of interlocutors in an interpreted interaction.

After discussing elements of a successful ASL to English interpretation, we began hands-on practice. Using our cell phones as a recording device, we recorded ourselves interpreting several ASL videos into English. After recording, we learned how to employ self-analysis techniques using non-evaluative feedback. After looking for general trends in our work, Sonja also asked us to focus specifically on word choices in one of our interpretations. This activity helped us to broaden our word bank of possible English terms to use for an ASL vocabulary word. Finally, we set SMART goals for ourselves: goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and timely. Participants walked away with many new tools to utilize when interpreting from ASL into English, and new activities and strategies for deliberate practice.

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