Reflections on Our Summer of 2015 Internship

by Francisco Olivero

Over the summer, SDNY staff interpreters mentored two interns. We welcomed the opportunity to work with two motivated college graduates interested in preparing for a career in court interpreting. Our goal for this internship was to help them acquire specialized language and develop basic interpreting and translation skills.

An emphasis was placed on how the language which appears in pertinent court documents is repeated in oral proceedings; specifically, how the terms and concepts which appear in relevant statutes, complaints, indictments and written motions appear orally in presentments, arraignments, pretrial conferences, trials, hearings, and sentencings. Those discussions were not just general in nature, but also made reference to specific cases. One specific case that went from presentment to trial to sentencing to appeal was used to facilitate an understanding of the logical progression of court proceedings.

In order to translate accurately the terms and ideas expressed in a United States courtroom, an understanding of the similarities and differences between the American justice system and the systems of Spanish speaking countries is beneficial. The mentors brought up these differences in our discussions with our mentees. Additionally, internet resources in Spanish and English complemented our instruction.

To help the summer interns build the necessary skills to become a superior court interpreter, they were asked to translate documents related to criminal matters and practiced interpreting in the sight, consecutive, and simultaneous modes. The internship was designed to provide motivated individuals with a well-rounded understanding of court proceedings and documents from the perspective of experienced court interpreters.

We found it quite gratifying to be able to afford the mentees the opportunity to become familiar with the work of a judiciary interpreter in federal court, to provide them with a working environment in which they could practice their communication skills with interpreters from several Spanish-speaking countries, and to systematically expose them to the language of criminal and civil proceedings.