University of Leeds Professional Conference Interpreter Training Centre
Situated high in the prestigious Parkinson Building in the heart of Leeds the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies has always been at the forefront of innovation and technology and is one of the largest and most diverse of its kind in the UK. From undergraduate degrees right through to postgraduate study and globally impactful research projects, students benefit from the expertise and dedication of internationally recognised scholars, high-quality facilities and a welcoming environment. Here the Centre for Translation Studies (CTS) conducts world- leading training in many aspects of Translation Studies and Conference Interpreting practice.
Following a major refurbishment in 2018 the Centre for Translation Studies decided to upgrade one of its conference interpreting suites to the very latest professional and digital technology. Various system providers were invited to present their systems to the University and, following a rigorous technical evaluation, there was one stand out system, it was the Sanako Study 1200 Blended Learning and Interpreting System.
From the outset the priority was to deliver the best quality equipment with an intuitive user interface for staff and students alike. Additionally, the system should represent the technology which graduates would find when starting their careers as conference interpreters and translators. This would ensure they are already familiar with the system and its operation for a seamless transition as this technology is widely used at institutions such as; NATO, G20, Heads of Commonwealth, IOC etc conferences. The importance of the university’s in house technical team should not be overlooked. Their dedication and professionalism contributed greatly to the project’s success.
As one of the key criteria, ease of use for visiting lecturers where the advanced Sanako software was of tremendous benefit. This uniquely programmable & customisable software is intuitive and with many functions automated it greatly reduced any user training time required. The tutor can simply click on their name to start and the software will do the rest, with one touch conference record, automatic download audio/video files and two track auto collection to name but a few of the advanced features for the tutor. Dr Alina Secară, Lecturer in Translation Studies and manager comments, “This lab will further ensure that students are trained to use modern information and communication technologies in their workplace and we will continue to align our infrastructure with that of international institutions and the professional commercial sector.”
As the forward thinking University Technical Manager, Mr Paul Markowski, made the decision initially to install the latest touch screen computers in the interpreter booths form the outset, it meant students were already familiar with this technology.
Additionally in the Spring of 2020 it was a simple process to add the Sanako Connect Blended Learning module to facilitate remote Simultaneous and Consecutiveinterpreting assessments. Using video dubbing techniques and automatic voice insert it was a simple process to upload assessments to the cloud.
This on-line Conference Interpreting technology will be enhanced further with the release of a new module in 2020.
Taking Interpreting On-Line
Lihong Pan, Programme Manager of MA Interpreting at the centre for Translation Studies continues;
The University of Leeds has an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research and is part of the prestigious Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University of Leeds is also a partner university of the Directorate-Generale for Interpretation, and enjoys close ties with international organisations including the UN.
During the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, colleagues across the university have been working to secure solutions to enable the continuation of study and assessment. One of the most effective solutions adopted for teaching and assessment by the MA Conference Interpreting and Translation Studies, MA Business and Public Service Interpreting and Translation Studies programmes in the Centre for Translation Studies, University of Leeds, has been Sanako Connect. Totally on-line and compatible with most devices, only internet access is required by this Blended Learning system.
Sanako Connect is designed to be a module for an existing Sanako Study 1200 system which has been in use in the interpreter training facilities in University of Leeds. With Sanako Connect, the tutors create a virtual class, which works in the same way as a conventional interpreting lab. In the virtual class, the link to the class is emailed to each student assigned to that module to comply with all current GDPR regulations. When the student clicks the link, the exercise is automatically downloaded onto their device and an icon for each student (including the student's name) appears on the tutor's screen, at which point the tutor can start the class/assessment.
With Sanako Connect, the tutors are able to do pretty much everything that can be done with a conventional interpreting lab - monitor what each student is doing, talk to all the students, or an individual student, and even allow everyone to discuss the exercise together, beforehand and afterwards. The exercises specific to the activity are easily inserted in the platform by the tutor, and can be downloaded automatically when students click on the link. The tutors can choose whether it is for consecutive or simultaneous interpreting with audio or video exercises.
During the online teaching and online assessment of interpreting modules, tutors are able to monitor individual students while they are carrying out the exercise and, when completed, their recordings are submitted to the tutor - in simultaneous exercises the recordings can be done in dual-track, allowing the student and original speech to be recorded on separate channels, as they do in the interpreting suites. David Binns from Sanako UK has been very professional and helpful in guiding us through the application of Sanako Connect and answering the questions raised by the tutors and students, and coordinating with the Sanako team to enhance some configurations to meet the specific needs of University of Leeds Centre for Translation Studies.