1. What is the difference between studying American Sign Language (ASL) and studying Interpreting?
Interpreting between two spoken languages, like English and Spanish, requires that you are already fluent in both and comfortable using them in the context of two distinct cultures. Interpreting between ASL and English is no different. Learning ASL first provides the base of fluency that will be required in order to successfully begin the study of ASL-English Interpretation, the ability to extract meaning from a message expressed in one language and produce equivalent meaning in the other language.
Many interpretation programs include the study of ASL as a part of their program. At LaGuardia, we have found that students who are already fluent in both languages are better prepared to develop the interpreting skills and knowledge that will enable them to serve their consumers well and garner the respect of their professional colleagues.
2. What does it mean to be a qualified or certified interpreter? Will I be a certified interpreter upon graduation from the Program?
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires the provision of qualified interpreters in a variety of settings. One important measure of an interpreter's qualifications is professional credentials. Credentials are obtained by taking and passing a knowledge and skills assessment. The National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) provides testing for national certification. In some states, a state agency offers a Quality Assurance (QA) assessment and the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPI). Though New York State does not have such a credentialing system, LaGuardia's ASL-English Interpretation Program aims to prepare its graduates to take and pass these aforementioned skills assessments. Only then can our graduates be considered qualified or certified interpreters.
3. What is the job market for interpreters like?
Sign language interpretation is a rapidly expanding field. There is a great need for qualified interpreters with credentials. Interpreters are employed by schools, government agencies, and private businesses. They may work in medical, legal, political, theatrical, and many other arenas. Part time, full time, freelance, and salaried positions are available in New York and across the country. Many of our graduates work with interpreter referral agencies as freelance interpreters. This offers them flexibility in hours and job settings.
4. What kind of salary can I expect to earn?
Salaries will vary depending on many factors. These include education, amount of experience, credentials, and geographical area (New York City is one of the highest paying areas). Some interpreters work for a school system, agency, business, or government organization and have a guaranteed salary and fringe benefits. Others work freelance, generally at higher hourly rates of pay, but without benefits. In either case, there is a lot of demand for good interpreters, and it is a viable and satisfying way to earn a living. You may want to call interpreter referral agencies and school systems to get specific information about the area of interpreting that interests you.
5. How long is the Program?
The Program is 2 years or 6 trimesters long. Applications are accepted once a year in the spring, and classes start the following fall. The courses are sequential and build one upon the other.
6. When and where are classes offered?
Our classes are held during the Fall, Winter, and Spring trimesters, 2 to 3 evenings per week. Most courses are 3 hours long and meet once a week. In addition, there are 3 internships throughout the course of the program, some of which take place during daytime hours. Most courses are held at LaGuardia Community College, although some are held in Manhattan.
7. Does the Program offer summer courses?
The Program curriculum does not include required summer coursework. However, some pre- and post-Program courses are offered in the summer.
8. If I'm interested in a specialty area of interpreting, such as medical, legal, educational, religious, or performance interpreting, how do I pursue that?
Since the Program has a focus on educational settings, all students have the opportunity to gain exposure to and specialize in this area. In addition, in your internships you will experience a variety of interpreting settings. However, these specialty areas require skills and training beyond general interpreting. You must first develop strong general skills in interpreting. Later, through workshops, courses, and mentoring available around the country, you can build upon the general skills you gained at LaGuardia and specialize in specific areas of interpreting.
9. Will my previous college coursework transfer for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Cultural Studies: ASL-English Interpretation program?
If you have taken upper division (bachelor's degree level) courses in another interpretation program, we will look at the contact and depth of your prior coursework to see if it is a reasonable substitute for a course in our Program. If so, you will not be required to take that specific course.
For your general education courses, SUNY-Empire State College (ESC) will review your transcript. ESC accepts course transfers from any accredited college or university in the country. There is no specific limitation on how long ago the courses were taken, as long as the course content remains relevant. ESC may also allocate advanced standing credit for other types of experiential learning.
Vanessa WatsonAdministrative Assistant
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