School of Foreign Languages September, 2020
Remarkable success has been achieved through the talent training.
（A group photo of the first graduates from Advanced English-Chinese Interpreting Minor Program）
The “Advanced English-Chinese Interpreting Minor Program” (hereinafter referred to as “Interpretation Class”) of the School of Foreign Languages was first established in 2014. It is a special interpreter-training class and enrolls 12-16 students from the Sophomore and Junior classes of the university every other year. The Interpretation Class nurtures top-notch undergraduate interpreters through two years’ professional, high-intensity, "high-volume" consecutive interpretation, sight interpretation and simultaneous interpretation training. At the same time, it also provides excellent postgraduate candidates of interpretation for famous universities at home and abroad.
In the past 6 years, with the strong support of the school and under the guideline of the internationally-accepted methods of interpreting, the Interpretation Class has implemented bold reforms in several aspects of the original undergraduate interpretation course, such as the course orientation, entrance and stage assessments, in-class and after-class training methods as well as the curriculum requirements for the students. Currently, the class has formed its own distinctive undergraduate-interpreter training mode and has gained marked effects.
01 Bringing forward the professional interpretation training that is usually set at the postgraduate stage to the undergraduate stage
In the interpretation circles at home and abroad, it is generally believed that professional interpreting training should be aimed at postgraduate students instead of undergraduates. But in fact, Shenzhen University has many excellent undergraduates well qualified to undergo the training, whose bilingual ability and interpreting talents far surpass most of the domestic postgraduate students from the English Department, or students from the Master of Translation and Interpretation Program (MTI or MI). Given the situation, we rely on the Interpretation Class to bring forward the professional interpreting training from the postgraduate stage to the undergraduate stage and provide the students with professional training for up to 2 years.
02 Implementing a rigorous system of enrollment, mid-term elimination and graduation examination
The interpreting training not only requires students to have excellent bilingual skills, extensive and even encyclopedic knowledge, strong anti-pressure ability, but also demands student’s fluency in oral expression, swiftness in response, thirst for knowledge, strong perseverance as well as persistence. Therefore, to ensure the enrollment quality, the teachers of the Interpretation Class need to make prudent selections among the applicants through carefully designed entrance examinations. However, it does not mean that the students who managed to be admitted into the class can be totally care-free in the next two years. After one year of study, the students need to pass a rigorous mid-term test of interpreting skills before they can continue their second year of study in the class. At the end of the second year, the students also need to take a final interpreting test to graduate successfully from the class. The three-stage measures mentioned above can indeed effectively help ensure the quality of the interpreting graduates as well as the effect of the talent training. In the past six years, the number of students enrolled in the three interpretation classes was 11, 13, and 16 respectively. After the eliminating process, only 7, 4, and 11 students respectively managed to graduate from the class with an average elimination rate of 45%.
03 Transforming the nature of the interpretation course from amateur "teaching interpreting" into professional "interpreting teaching"
With the nature of language teaching, the traditional consecutive interpretation course set up for domestic English major undergraduates is actually aimed at improving students’ foreign language skills instead of training professional interpreters, whereas in the Interpretation Class of our school, the course has been fundamentally transformed into a serialized and professionalized one aiming to cultivate top-notch undergraduate interpreters. The course is characterized by its high threshold of admission, small-class teaching, professionalization, rigorous standards as well as strict requirements. Through the course, the students who aspire to become professional interpreters are able to learn and internalize various interpretating skills, have their knowledge enriched, and their cognitive ability improved. The nature of the interpretation course set up in the Interpreting Class has been greatly altered from the traditional amateur "teaching interpretation" to professionalized "interpretation teaching".
Furthermore, generally speaking, domestic English major undergraduates are only offered a one-semester compulsory consecutive interpretation course. Only a few qualified colleges and universities will set up an extra selective interpretation course for one more semester. The Interpretation Class of our school specially provides students with an up-to-two-semester interpretation course with four classes a week and 80 minutes per class. It has indeed changed the original one-semester undergraduate "amateur" interpretation course into a "professional" one in which students are able to have high-intensity, large-scale, and professional consecutive and simultaneous interpretation practice.
04 Increasing the difficulty of the course study as well as setting up a "golden class" of interpretation
(Students Lai Jiaying and Zhang Shihao are doing interpreting practice (They both have been admitted into the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey majoring in interpretation, 2020)
(1) Before class, students are required to extensively read English-Chinese bilingual newspapers, magazines and online articles, watch TV programs and listen to the radio. They need to be familiar with the background materials related to the given theme of each unit and do sight-interpretation on each chapter of the materials before class. Meanwhile, students also need to keep in mind 500-1,000 related bilingual expressions within two weeks and prepare for an assessment test in class.
(2) In class, students need to take turns to host the “English News Roundup”, sharing recent major news and important events at home and abroad to all the classmates. In this way, students can not only practice their oral expression, but can also keep in touch with the current national and international affairs as well as accumulate more knowledge of various kinds. Besides, they also need to take turns to play the role of interpreters on the platform and perform the on-site interpretation upon the video the teacher broadcasts in class, after which students need to receive the unrelenting comments on their interpretation quality from the teacher and the classmates.
(3) After class, students are required to do interpreting practice in pairs or in groups for 7 days a week and 3 hours per day, making self-critique as well as peer critique in the meanwhile. Their practice recording is also supposed to be uploaded as required so that the teacher can have a check and give quality feedback.
（Students of 2020 graduation are doing in-class practice）
The Interpretation Class asks students to spend at least 3 hours on after-class practice every day, and complete at least 2,000 tape hours of extracurricular training after two years’ study. This approach greatly increases the difficulty of the course study and prevents easy-to-pass yet fruitless classes. Under the rigorous training, the Interpretation Class has showed marked effects and in all has cultivated three classes of top-notch undergraduate interpreters. For students, the class often evokes mixed feelings of love and hate: on one hand, students love it for its fruitfulness and effectiveness; on the other hand, students sometimes “hate” it for its high pressure and difficulty. All in all, it is a “golden course” that can make students harvest a lot and even “reborn” when they graduate.
（Yang Shiqi from the Interpretation Class has been admitted into the University of Hong Kong majoring in English Education, 2020）
（Zhu Keying from the Interpretation Class has been admitted into the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey majoring in interpretation, 2020）
（Yao Huijie from the Interpretation Class has been admitted into the MTI program of Shanghai International Studies University as the top student, 2020）
05 Establishing the largest video corpus among the domestic universities and colleges for interpreting training and teaching
Interpretation courses at home and abroad generally face such problems as mere-audio-based training materials, outdated themes, and quantity deficiency. To solve the problems, after years of hard work, the teachers of the Interpretation Class have built up a large-scale, high-definition, English-Chinese bilingual speech video corpus with a total capacity of 1,000 G and up to 3,000 hours’ running time, which is also expandable and updatable. It is understood that the corpus is currently the largest bilingual video corpus built up by the teachers themselves and dedicated to in-and after-class interpreting training in China. It provides a sufficient amount of training materials for the students to do interpreting practice in and after class.
06 Inviting professional interpreters as part-time teachers
To set good examples to students and encourage them to work hard, the Interpretation Class regularly invites professional interpreters from the United Nations or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and well-known domestic interpretation research experts to give lectures to students. For example, in the past few years, the class has invited the senior UN interpreter, Professor Dai Huiping from the School of Advanced Translation and Interpretation of Shanghai International Studies University, Huang Youyi, the former deputy director of the State Administration of Foreign Languages, Professor Gao Bin from the EU Advanced Interpreter Training Center of University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing, AIIC member, and Professor Zhan Cheng of Sun Yat-sen University.
07 Combining the domestic study at Shenzhen University and the overseas study at the famous foreign translation and interpretation college
During the training period, students can be partially funded by the school and the university to study in the world’s top interpreter training university known as the "Harvard in the interpreting world"—Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California for three months. Such international top-level interpreting training helps students broaden their horizons as well as improve their foreign language abilities and interpreting skills. Eight students had been studying at the Middlebury Institute for 7 weeks from January, 2020 to March 2020 (Since some of the students needed to have the graduate interviews back in China in March, the training time had to be shortened into 7 weeks from the original plan of 3 months). They had intensive interpreting training at the institute and returned to China in mid-March.
Owing to the high reputation brought by the innovative class-running model and rigorous training in the Interpretation Class, there are always 40-70 students with excellent bilingual abilities applying for the class each time, but the class only enrolls 12-16 students per session with an admission rate of about 20-25%. In order to fulfill their interpreting ambitions, many excellent juniors would rather postpone their graduation one year than give up the chance to study in the Interpretation Class. In 2018, there were six students who decided to have their graduation postponed among the 16 students enrolled in the class.
The strict professional training of the class and the students’ proficient interpreting skills bring great advantages to the student’s further study and employment after graduation. In the past six years, there have been 22 students graduating from the Interpretation Class. Three of them have been admitted into the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, known as the "Harvard in the interpreting world" (2020); 6 of them have been accepted by Shanghai International Studies University (No. 1 in 2020; No. 3 in 2018), Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (No. 1 in 2016), University of Leeds, University of Newcastle in the United Kingdom majoring in interpretation; and 5 of them have been respectively admitted to the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen University, Jinan University, and the City University of Macau. The rate of postgraduate study among the students in the Interpretation Class is up to 64%, far exceeding the ordinary undergraduate classes. After their graduation, some students work as full-time interpreters and translators in PingAn Group Headquarters, BGI Gene Headquarters, Shenzhen University of Technology and other units, or work in Shenzhen primary and secondary schools or enterprises. In general, the employment quality of the graduates of the class is relatively high, with an average monthly salary of 10,000 yuan.
（One of the first graduates, Liu Yuanbi, currently the director secretary and translator of Ping An Group's overseas public relations）
After 6 years of hard work, the “Advanced Interpretation Experimental Class” wins a high reputation among the students of the School of Foreign Languages. It is a class that students yearn for before the application; and a class that students take pride in after the enrollment. After graduation, the students can be generally guaranteed a good result of their postgraduate study application or job employment. The Interpretation Class is not only a highlight but also a special name card of the undergraduate education of the School of Foreign Languages. At present, the class has been upgraded to the "English-Chinese Advanced Interpretation Micro-Professional Major" and has also established an intern base for students in cooperation with Shenzhen Translation Association. It is believed that with the strong support of the school and the university, the class will continue to show more results and become better in the future.