Translation, interpreting and mediation services in language integration processes in Catalonia
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Translation, interpreting and mediation services in language integration processes in Catalonia

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The aim of this paper is to present the findings of our report on the nature of the translation and interpreting services that facilitate communication between immigrants and public authority......

The aim of this paper is to present the findings of our report on the nature of the translation and interpreting services that facilitate communication between immigrants and public authority workers in Catalonia. In that respect, the paper includes:
- a typology of organisational and service provision models, based on the fields in which such services operate;
- information on the profile of service employees;
- details of specialised training carried out

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  • 1. Translation, interpreting and mediation services in language integration processes in Catalonia Mercè Solé i Sanosa Vicent Climent-Ferrando Aston University, Birmingham, UK July 2010 Critical Link 6 Interpreting in a Changing Landscape 6 th International Conference
  • 2. Background information
    • Catalonia: influx of 1.3 million immigrants in last 10 years (total population: 7 million). The territory’s public services have had to adapt to the situation in a short period of time.
    • The Government of Catalonia has exclusive jurisdiction over education, health and policing in the territory. Jurisdiction over immigration corresponds to the Government of Spain. Nonetheless:
    • The Catalan Parliament has passed a law on immigrant reception.
    • All Catalonia’s administration bodies (government, regional councils and municipal councils) and the territory’s foremost immigrant organisations, unions and civic and social associations have established a national agreement on immigration.
    • Municipal councils are responsible for managing their respective municipal population registers (governed by Spanish law) and providing services for local inhabitants (social aid, education, etc).
    • Regional councils comprise representatives of the municipal councils within their territory, to which they offer support services, particularly in the case of municipalities with less than 20,000 inhabitants.
  • 3. Ministry of Internal Affairs Municipal councils Municipal population register management (Spanish law) Services for local inhabitants (managed autonomously) Government of Catalonia Ministries Ministry of Education Ministry of Health Regional councils Support services for municipal councils
  • 4. Background information
    • Catalan: language traditionally spoken in Catalonia, where it enjoys co-official status.
    • Spanish: official language throughout Spain and co-official language in Catalonia.
    • A substantial influx of immigrants from Latin America has added to the pressure that Spanish exerts on Catalan.
    • Study goals:
      • To find out how Catalonia’s public services have dealt with the needs they have faced in terms of communication with newcomers to the territory.
      • To ascertain how such services use Catalan in the course of their work.
  • 5. Outline of paper Brief introduction to Linguamón and its activities. Presentation of Linguamón’s summary report on how Catalonia’s public service translation and interpreting services go about their work.
  • 6.  
  • 7. Table of contents
    • Immigration in Catalonia: facts and figures
    • Research goals
    • Methodology
    • Selecting informants and obtaining information
    • Roles and functions
    • Service structure and management models
    • Professional profile, recruitment and training
    • Other findings
    • Conclusions
  • 8. 1. Immigration in Catalonia: facts and figures (I)
  • 9. 1. Immigration in Catalonia: facts and figures (II)
  • 10. As a result of immigration, a host of cultures and languages not traditionally present in Catalonia are now part of the territory’s society. Examples of population composition in Catalan municipalities: Ulldecona: 6,987 residents, 29.07% of whom are of foreign origin. Salt: 28,763 residents, 39.20% of whom are of foreign origin. Guissona: 5,683 residents, 43.46% of whom are of foreign origin. Manlleu: 20,505 residents, 23.00% of whom are of foreign origin. Overall, more than 16% of Catalonia’s inhabitants are of foreign origin. 1. Immigration in Catalonia: facts and figures (III)
  • 11. 2. Research goals
    • Main goal: to find out the current situation of translation and interpreting services that work to facilitate communication between immigrants and the authorities in Catalonia.
    • Secondary goal: to find out how Catalonia’s public service translators and interpreters acquire the skills necessary for their work.
  • 12. 3. Methodology
    • Analysis of secondary information sources : reports, articles, studies, guidelines for outsourcing services, etc.
    • Interviews with key informants : people from different fields, whose input provided an initial insight into the current state of affairs.
    • Case studies covering :
    • Services working in different fields (health, legal system, education, etc.).
    • Services corresponding to authorities at different levels of administrative hierarchy (municipal, regional, Government of Catalonia, Government of Spain).
    • Services run by private bodies and organisations.
    • Interview categories:
    • Service managers.
    • Service users (e.g. health service employees).
    • Interpreters / intercultural mediators.
  • 13. 4. Selecting informants and obtaining information Key informants (local authorities, health, education, justice and internal affairs) 5 Local authorities (service managers and coordinators) 12 Private organisations (managers of services run by foundations, unions, associations or companies) 8 Service users (public service employees from different fields) 8 Interpreters and mediators (from services corresponding to local authorities or private organisations) 13 Total no. of interviews 46
  • 14. 5. Roles and functions (I)
    • Despite there being a variety of service models, Linguamón’s study has shown that the function of interpreter is common to all the types of professionals identified, regardless of the different names used to refer to them (intercultural mediators, intercultural communicators, translators and integration support workers, among others).
    • Interpreter: a person who converts a thought or expression in a source language into an oral expression with a comparable meaning in a target language in ‘real time’, thus facilitating communication between speakers of different languages.
  • 15. 5. Roles and functions (II)
    • Integration support worker (municipal role)
    • Helps services for assisting the public to provide immigrants with information on municipal resources and procedures.
    • Carries out work related to immigrant reception and integration (introductory sessions, information on resources and services, accompanying immigrants who do not speak Catalonia’s co-official languages during meetings and appointments with public service employees, etc.).
    • Carries out translation and interpreting work.
    • Emphasis on skills in languages spoken by immigrants.
  • 16. 5. Roles and functions (III)
    • Intercultural mediator (municipal role, typically found in health centres, etc.)
    • Facilitates communication and bridges cultural gaps between public service employees and users.
    • Advises and trains public service employees, helps to disseminate information among immigrant communities, etc.
    • Carries out interpreting work (covering both linguistic and cultural aspects), accompanies immigrants who do not speak Catalonia’s co-official languages during meetings and appointments with public service employees, etc.
  • 17. 5. Roles and functions (IV)
    • Translator and interpreter
    • Facilitates communication between public service employees and users (main function).
    • Translates texts and documents, provides information for immigrants in languages that do not have official status in Catalonia, and carries out interpreting work for the legal, education and health services and the police forces.
    • Assigned work through databases.
  • 18. Service structure and management models. Ministries of the Government of Catalonia (I) Ministry of Internal Affairs Public call for tenders to provide services for local units throughout Catalonia 24-hour service availability, all year round Ministry of Justice Translation companies with sufficient resources to cater for demand
  • 19. Ministry of Health Telephone interpreting Ministry of Education Guideline Plan for Immigration Intercultural mediator training Agreements with associations, unions, foundations and local authorities Various contracting methods Service structure and management models. Ministries of the Government of Catalonia (II)
  • 20. Service structure and management models. Local authorities: regional and municipal councils Direct management Different types of professionals employed by the hour Outsourced management (agreement / call for tenders) Database of translators and interpreters / mediation services Database of translators / interpreters (sporadic work)
  • 21. Intercultural mediators Facilitating communication and bridging cultural gaps + Advice for public service employees, information for immigrant communities, accompanying immigrants, etc. Does not involve conflict resolution Translators / interpreters Main function: facilitating communication between public service employees and users, basically involving interpreting and some translation work Assigned work through databases Integration support workers Reception -related functions + Translation and interpreting functions
  • 22. 6. Service structure and management models Model Translators / interpreters Intercultural mediators Integration support workers Model 1 Model 1 Model 1 Model 2 Model 2 Model 3 Model 3 Model 3 Model 4 Model 4 Model 5 Model 5 Model 5 Model 6 Model 6
  • 23. 6. Service structure and management models. Model 1. Combination of integration support workers and translators / interpreters
      • Model involving a combination of the integration support worker and translator / interpreter figures.
      • Most common model in municipal and regional spheres.
      • The two figures perform different functions. Translation and interpreting carried out by translators / interpreters from database.
      • Model with two variants:
        • Clear distinction between functions of integration support workers (reception-related work) and those of translators / interpreters (work geared to facilitating communication).
        • No clear distinction between the two figures. Integration support workers also carry out translation and interpreting work. Translators / interpreters from the database are only employed to deal with languages that integration support workers are unable to cover.
  • 24. 6. Service structure and management models. Model 2. Intercultural mediators
    • Model involving a single figure, that of the intercultural mediator .
    • Model used in the health arena. The Ministry of Health’s current policy consists of organising training aimed at producing intercultural mediators specialising in health-related work in the languages of the main immigrant communities.
    • An external database or the telephone interpreting service available via the Catalan health service’s 24-hour helpline ( Sanitat Respon ) is used to deal with languages not covered by the team of intercultural mediators.
  • 25. 6. Service structure and management models. Model 3. Combination of integration support workers and intercultural mediators
      • Model involving a combination of the integration support worker and intercultural mediator figures.
    • Linguamón’s study has shown that this model is only used in a few cases, in which there are significant differences in each figure’s functions and work.
    • An external database is used to deal with languages that contracted workers are unable to cover.
  • 26. 6. Service structure and management models. Model 4. Integration support workers
    • Model involving a single figure, that of the integration support worker .
    • Model in which integration support workers not only perform reception-related tasks but also carry out interpreting work. There is actually very little demand for them to interpret, this being the very reason they are able to take on such work as and when it arises.
  • 27. 6. Service structure and management models. Model 5. Combination of translators / interpreters and intercultural mediators
      • Model involving a combination of the translator / interpreter and intercultural mediator figures.
    • Model used in municipal spheres. Professionals are employed to carry out interpreting and intercultural mediation work with the municipality’s main immigrant communities.
    • A database of translators / interpreters is often used to deal with languages that the aforementioned professionals are unable to cover.
  • 28. 6. Service structure and management models. Model 6. Translators / interpreters
    • Model involving a single figure, that of the translator / interpreter .
    • Model used by the Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Internal Affairs, which outsource their translation and interpreting services to suitably equipped companies.
  • 29. 7. Professional profile, recruitment and training (I)
    • Wide variety of models  heterogeneous profile.
    • Translators / interpreters who have been working for public services for many years have taken part in training and gradually become more specialised, and thus now have a highly comprehensive range of skills.
    • There is a lower level of skills in the case of languages that have few speakers in Catalonia or have only recently begun to be used in the territory.
    • Precarious work. Few translators / interpreters rely solely on databases. Most have other jobs (highly varied). While some have studied and trained in their countries of origin, most are unable to obtain skilled jobs (due to difficulties securing recognition for their qualifications, among other factors).
    • “ The job’s precarious nature makes retaining reliable workers or teams very difficult. Continuity is vital, but often impossible...”
  • 30. 7. Professional profile, recruitment and training (II)
    • The Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Internal Affairs take translators and interpreters’ qualifications and level of experience into account when outsourcing their services.
    • According to data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 68% of the people who provided its translation and interpreting services in 2007 were university graduates.
    • Companies mainly focus on language skills in recruitment processes, although they also take other criteria into account.
    • Municipal bodies assess candidates’ attitude and ability to acquire new knowledge, in addition to their level of training and language skills.
    • When seeking people to provide translation and interpreting services, municipal bodies often turn to local institutions, Catalan language schools for adults and members of immigrant communities who are involved in associations.
  • 31. 7. Professional profile, recruitment and training (III)
    • The arrival of a new language community in a municipality is often first noted in schools, which thus serve as a means of identifying new languages for which interpreters will be required.
    • Catalan and Spanish language skills:
      • Catalan language skills are generally deemed advantageous but not essential for beginning to work. Non-speakers are encouraged to take courses.
      • In some cases, Catalan language skills are deemed essential for beginning to work. Non-speakers who fulfil all the other applicable requisites are given time to learn Catalan.
      • According to data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the people who provided its translation and interpreting services in 2007:
      • 100% spoke and understood Spanish .
      • 59.6% spoke and understood Catalan .
  • 32. 7. Professional profile, recruitment and training (IV)
    • Various companies, institutions and authorities organise training courses, the content and format of which varies on the basis of translator and interpreter profiles and functions in different fields of work
    • The Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Internal Affairs require the companies to which they outsource their services to have a training plan (particularly where legal terminology is concerned).
    • The Ministry of Health has run training programmes for intercultural mediators on working in the health arena as part of its Plan for Immigration.
    • Training courses organised by local authorities and bodies:
      • Familiarisation with local area and host society.
      • Intercultural mediation.
      • Introduction to public service interpreting.
  • 33. 8. Other findings (I). Languages for which interpreters are most commonly requested
    • Arabic
    • Tamazight
    • Romanian
    • English and French ( lingua francas , tourism)
    • Russian
    • Chinese
    Based on requests received by the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Education
    • Punjabi and Urdu
    • Georgian
    • Portuguese
    • Polish
    • German
  • 34. 8. Other findings (II). Service organisation
    • Temporary service. Reception geared to promotion of autonomy:
      • Conditions established for immigrants to use service.
      • Immigrants encouraged to learn Catalan.
      • Immigrants familiarised with local area, provided with information and referred to other services.
    • Diversity in terms of profiles and functions.
    • “ Another problem is a lack of clarity as to what the profession entails. We need to make people aware of our services, but first we have to know exactly what we do”
    • Lack of clarity regarding tasks corresponding to each figure.
    • Confusion among public service employees who request translation and interpreting services.
    • Underuse of services (due to mistrust or lack of awareness).
    • Inappropriate use of services (tasks corresponding to other figures, etc.).
  • 35. 8. Other findings (III). Interpreters and mediators
    • Heterogeneous profiles, skills and levels of training. Important considerations:
      • Need for familiarity with specialised terminology (legal and health-related work).
      • Importance of specific training on interpersonal and communication skills, as subject matter dealt with may be highly sensitive.
      • Improvement of language skills (languages used in reception process).
      • Precarious / casual nature of work not conducive to training or specialisation.
    • Overcoming precarious nature of work.
    • Difficulties related to immigrant communities:
      • Mistrust (particularly initially).
      • Dependency.
      • Need to remain neutral and avoid taking sides.
  • 36. 8. Other findings (IV). Public service employees and users
    • Public service employees and users regard translation and interpreting services as essential.
      • High level of satisfaction in general. Aim of facilitating communication fulfilled.
    • Problems:
      • Identifying languages spoken by service users.
      • Procedure in emergencies or situations requiring immediate action.
      • Difficulty gauging accuracy of interpretations provided.
  • 37. 9. Conclusions
    • Development of a digital directory of translators and interpreters who work with languages spoken by immigrants.
    • Work in conjunction with the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s MIRAS (Mediation, Interpreting and Research in the Social Arena) research group.
    • Participation in the transnational network for social cohesion promoted by the municipality of Bolzano (Italy) in relation to the use of professional resources for intercultural mediation and conflict prevention, management and transformation.
    • Promotion of and involvement in specialised training for public service translators, interpreters and mediators.
    • Identification and dissemination of best practices in the field.
  • 38.  
  • 39.  
  • 40. Digital directory of translators and interpreters working with languages spoken by immigrants
    • Goals
    • To cater for public service employees’ requirements.
    • To make it easier to find translators and interpreters who work with languages spoken by immigrants.
    • To raise awareness of the availability of specialised services in the languages spoken by Catalonia’s main immigrant communities.
    • Nature of information
    • Online access (constantly updated).
    • Search options:
    • By name: company / body / freelancer / volunteer.
    • By language: source / target.
    • By service: interpreting / mediation / translation / translation and accompaniment.
    • Service type: accompaniment / email / in person / videoconference.
  • 41. [email_address] THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION