by Amelia Bowdell, Elisa Maroney, Lyra Behnke
(View video abstract)
Being bilingual is part and parcel to becoming an effective interpreter. To be considered bilingual, one must have Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) in two languages, which is a difficult goal for students before entering an interpreter education program (IEP). Bilingualism in ASL and English may be difficult to achieve because they differ significantly. Coursework that utilizes BICS, CALP, and second language acquisition theories can help students achieve bilingualism. Level of fluency in one’s first language will affect the fluency in one’s second language. Assessing fluency in both ASL and English should be an essential part of coursework. Research on language and linguistic offerings at IEPs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education will be presented. How language courses and assessments can inform instructors and students about the importance of bilingualism before attempting to develop interpreting skills will be explored.