Newcastle University

New conference interpreting suite officially opens

Newcastle University’s flagship Translating and Interpreting MA programme has been given a major boost thanks to a £1.2m investment. Supporting the top-ranked degree programme, the money has been used for a new School of Modern Languages Conference Interpreting Suite.

The Suite provides an opportunity for cross-facility learning through video link, which will be a key development for international conferences.

An opening event was hosted by Professor Chris Day, Vice Chancellor and President of Newcastle University, Professor Nigel Harkness, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Facility of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Andrea Wilczynski, Head of the School of Modern Languages. The event was attended by Christina Edwards, Chief Interpreter, United Nations Office in Vienna and Lieven Danneels, CEO, Televic Group, the high-tech communications provider and project partner.

Newcastle University Translating Suite Lieven Danneels and Andrea Wilczynski try out the new interpreting suite.(Source: Newcastle University)

Professor Harkness said: “Newcastle University’s degree programmes train Interpreters and Translators to fulfil a vital function in our world: enabling communication between leaders of industry and leaders of nations, and making possible international cooperation and understanding. This investment in a cutting-edge Conference Interpreting Suite signals our commitment to continuing to play a leading role in this valuable work. “I am particularly pleased that we are among the first universities to link a lecture theatre on a remote site – our new Frederick Douglass Centre – to our interpreting suite, enabling us to train students in remote interpreting and enhancing their opportunities to learn in facilities which replicate professional settings.”

World class interpreting training

Andrea Wilczynski added: “I am delighted with the new Conference Interpreting Suite and the huge commitment the university has shown by investing in this. It will ensure that students on our internationally renowned, highly competitive programme will continue to receive world class interpreting training. It is a really exciting addition to the School of Modern Languages.”

Newcastle’s graduates interpret at high-level and high-profile international conferences around the world, providing translation and interpreting services to heads of states, including presidents of China and the US, high-ranking government officials, NGOs, business CEOs, and a wide range of industry conferences in the private sector.

I am particularly pleased that we are among the first universities to link a lecture theatre on a remote site to our interpreting suite, enabling us to train students in remote interpreting and enhancing their opportunities to learn in facilities which replicate professional settings.

Gaining valuable experience

Translation and Interpreting MA student, Molly Liu, is among the Newcastle University team who are already working in the new suite.  

She said: “I enjoy every moment in the Interpreting Suite. The new booth is spacious and bright, with adjustable lighting and great ventilation. Sound insulation is also brilliantly done because the world became quiet the moment I stepped into a booth. Using all the equipment definitely helps to bring out the best of our performance. I feel proud to have access to new suite.” 

The installation of the Televic interpreter training system allows the students to use the professional system that is standard at the EU, UN and major conference facilities in international institutions.

Yunwen Geng is another postgraduate Translation and Interpreting student benefitting from the new facility. She said: “I was so impressed when I had the first taste of the new suite. It has been redesigned well, as it seems larger and brighter than before. What impresses me most is the state-of-the-art booths, with cutting-edge technology.

translating suite A view from within the booth. (Source: Newcastle University)

“Also, the big screens in front of the suite are amazing. Firstly, they can show the image of the speaker, even though she is sitting beside the table. I remember when I first tried this function, I was so surprised: when I switch on the microphone in front of me on the conference table, the camera turned to me instantly, and my image was posted on the screens.

“The screens can serve another function, which is even more fantastic. It can show us what’s going on in a conference room of The Frederick Douglass Centre. With our suite connected with the booth at the back of this conference room, we can even do remote interpreting: this working approach is becoming more and more prevalent in the real market.”  

The official opening coincides with Newcastle University’s Translation and Interpreting Autumn Conference. The event is a "mock conference" for student interpreters to put their skills to the test in a real-life simulation. It is one of the most popular teaching and learning activities to boost students’ interpreting, leadership and teamwork skills.

Newcastle University is ranked 5th in the UK in the Modern languages & linguistics subject league table by the Guardian University Guide 2020.

(Source: Newcastle University, 12 December 2019)

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