Frequently Asked Questions
Public Service Interpreting programme
|In what languages are the courses taught?||Our classroom based Public Service Interpreting (PSI) courses are taught in English only but may include bilingual assessments. They do not include bilingual teaching because this would result in considerably higher fees but we offer separate language specific supplementary courses for some languages.Students who are enrolled on our PSI Law or Health courses and are interested in bilingual support will be able to enrol on one to one bilingual modules for Spanish, French, Italian and Polish. Other languages will be considered on demand.|
|What are the main topics covered?||The “Professional Conduct in Public Service Interpreting” module is suitable for students new to interpreting and also for those who already work as interpreters. It covers topics that are further developed in the specialised PSI Health and Law modules such as practical and ethical issues related to working as a public service interpreter in the UK and the skills required.We strongly recommend that students, particularly those new to interpreting, undertake this module before the specialised ones. If this is not possible we can help them to catch up with the most important content to avoid this having a detrimental effect on their grades for the PSI Health and Law modules.The main topics covered in the PSI Health and Law modules are:
The practices of Public Services working in Health or Law and the terminology they and their clients are likely to use.
|What kind of terminology are Public Services and their clients likely to use?||The terminology that Public Services and their clients use which causes the most difficulty is specialised terminology but it also includes euphemisms, idioms, swearing and potentially embarrassing language.|
|Will the course cover all the terminology a PS interpreter will need to know?||No, this is not possible because a language is constantly evolving as are public service practices and their terminology. This means that interpreters need to be constantly updating their vocabulary. Also there is no limit to the topics that can become relevant in public service settings. We cover commonly used terminology and teach research and assignment preparation skills.|
|How can I decide what courses to take?||Students should first complete the “Professional Conduct in Public Service Interpreting” module (or an equivalent / similar one) and then select one of the specialised modules (PSI Health or Law). There is also an English support module called “English Language and Communication Skills for Public Services” that can be taken at any stage though it would be better to address weaknesses in English comprehension or expression as early as possible to reduce the effect this can have on the grades for the other modules.
Students are welcome to arrange a meeting with Elsa Cowie to discuss their options. Please use her e-mail address given at the end.
|Are there any tests or exams in the courses?||There are written tests and quizzes throughout the courses and oral tests towards the end.
Your tutors will give you more detailed information at the start of each course. Students need to reach a pass grade in order to qualify for the credits associated with each module.
|Will I get an interpreting qualification at the end of the course?||No, our courses are designed to support students who are considering or preparing for examinations for external and independently awarded qualifications. The most widely recognised qualification for Public Service Interpreters in the UK is the DPSI (see below).
The credits awarded on successful completion of the PSI courses are confirmed by the Examinations Boards that meet in July and October.
|Is there a minimum attendance requirement?||Yes, students will not gain credits if they are not able to attend at least half the course. The reason for this is that the training is heavily dependent on practical work in class.|
|What will happen if I have problems that affect my attendance or performance?||Students may occasionally experience personal circumstances, such as illness, bereavement, etc., which can seriously disrupt their ability to study and/or affect performance in an assessment. The University considers extenuating circumstances to be circumstances which:
• have prevented you from performing at your usual level in an assessment; and
• are unforeseen or unavoidable; and
• are close in time to the affected assessment.
If you believe you have extenuating circumstances whilst taking a course provided by the Centre for Continuing and Professional Education, you should make this known to either the course tutor or Elsa Cowie as soon as possible.
For further information on what kinds of circumstances are likely/unlikely to be accepted see:
|ABOUT THE DPSI|
|What is the DPSI?||DPSI stands for Diploma in Public Service Interpreting. This diploma can be obtained by sitting an external examination run independently by the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL). There is comprehensive information on this and other qualifications on the CIoL website (www.ciol.org.uk/) under “Qualifications”.
Our courses are designed to support students in their preparation for the DPSI examination but the fee for that exam is not included in our fees. Entry to the exam is a separate procedure for which separate fees are payable. The DPSI is set at levels 6 and 5 (for the written translations) whereas our PSI courses are set at level 4.
Students who do not wish to sit the DPSI examination are also welcome to attend our courses.
|What does the DPSI examination consist of?||There are five units, three oral and two written.
Unit 1 comprises two dialogues requiring mainly consecutive but also some simultaneous interpreting, one where the simultaneous interpreting is from the Other Language (OL) into English and the other one where it is from English into the OL.
Units 2 and 3 are two Sight Translations (oral translation of a written text) one into and the other one from English.
Units 4 and 5 are two Written Translations, again into and from English.
For the exam, candidates have to select one language to translate and interpret from and into English and one of three pathways: Law, Health or Local Government.
|How long does the DPSI exam take and where and when does it take place?||The oral tasks normally take around one hour. The written translations take place on a different day and students are allowed one hour for each.
We are a DPSI examination centre but for some languages, students still have to go to London for the oral tasks (units 1, 2 and 3). This depends on the number of students taking a specific language and pathway (Law, Health or Local Government) combination and on how many teams of assessors are available for a particular language.
For information on sitting the examination in Cardiff go to www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/choices/languages/public-service-interpreting/dpsi-examinations/ and / or contact Sian Austin (AustinS5@cardiff.ac.uk).
|Do I need to do the courses to be able to sit the DPSI examination?||No, the DPSI examination is open to anyone even if they have not undertaken any courses.|
|Will I be ready to sit the DPSI exam by the end of the PSI Health or Law course?||This will depend on many factors including your language competency in both English and your other language, how much study and research you are able to undertake during the course and your interpreting experience.
These courses should help you to decide whether you are ready but, as you have to register by the end of January for the examination in June, we recommend that students who are not already familiar with the DPSI examination at the start of the PSI Health and Law courses wait until the following December to register for the following June as this may also entitle them to the early registration reduced fee.
|How difficult is the DPSI exam?||The exam is set at the level of an undergraduate degree. Past papers available on the DPSI page of the CIoL website can give you an idea of the level of difficulty even if they are not for your language as you can look at the English part. Once you enrol in one of our courses you will have access to a full set of past papers from the Library at the Centre for Continuing and Professional Education.|
|LANGUAGE RELATED QUESTIONS|
|What languages are covered in the courses?||As the courses are in English, we accept students who speak any other languages. Although there are sometimes language pairs or groups, for many students this is not the case. We can try to put students in touch with students in other courses who speak the same foreign language but this is not always possible.|
|What level of English do I need to have to undertake these courses?||You should be able to understand and express complex ideas using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation and have a good grasp of idiomatic English. A native English speaker should be able to understand your spoken and written English without difficulty. If you are a native English speaker then the same applies for the other language(s) that you intend to use for public service interpreting.|
|Do I need to be able to read and write my other language (OL)?||If you are not able to read and / or write your other language you can still take our courses but you will not be able to sit some parts of the DPSI exam and gain the full qualification. You will not be able to undertake most Police work (specially taking witness statements). If you are not able to read your other language you will not be able to undertake sight translations and these are sometimes part of our bilingual assessments. You should discuss this with the tutor at the start of the course.|
|How can I find out what the employment prospects are for my language(s)?||Public Service interpreters normally work on a freelance basis and it is very difficult to predict demand because it depends on many unforeseeable factors. WITS, the Wales Interpretation and Translation Service (www.wits.uk.com), holds statistics on recent supply and demand for different languages and you can apply to register with them even if you don’t have any qualifications. They can also explain the benefits of qualifications and training in relation to their booking policies. For some bookings they approach qualified interpreters first and pay a higher rate. Their telephone number is 01633 245300 and their e-mail address is email@example.com
The NRPSI website (www.nrpsi.org.uk) can also provide information regarding the number of registered interpreters for a given language by geographical area in the UK.
|What is the NRPSI?||It stands for National Register of Public Service Interpreters and it is a national register of qualified interpreters, mostly DPSI holders. Their website (see above) provides information about criteria for registration.|
|Could I enrol in the PSI Health and Law modules at the same time?||Yes but we don’t recommend it unless you can allocate around 20 hours a week for home study in addition to the lessons.
Students are expected to allocate around four hours for self study for each hour they spend in class.
|Where will the course be taught?||The courses are generally taught at the Centre for Continuing and Professional Education on Senghennydd Road but occasionally there are classes taught elsewhere in the University. There might also be sessions with service providers in other locations.|
|Will I need to use e-mail and other IT facilities for the courses?||Yes, students are offered a University e-mail account and we use it to communicate with them. We use a Virtual Learning Environment called “Learning Central” to post resources, information and announcements. We also give students the opportunity to discuss issues of interest via a discussion board.
Students who encounter difficulties using University IT facilities will have the support of the Cardiff University IT service desk. The use of Learning Central is an essential part of the course and it is demonstrated in class throughout the course. Through it tutors send announcements to students’ Cardiff University e-mail address so it is important that they check theirs regularly.
|How can I enrol on a course and is there a closing date for enrolments?||You can enrol on a course by filling in an enrolment form and returning it to the Reception office at the Centre for Continuing and Professional Education. You can obtain the form by downloading it from the web www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/enrol/ or from the Reception office who can post one to you if you ring them on 029 20870000.
You can enrol up to the time of the first lesson provided the course has not reached its full capacity but the course might be cancelled if not enough students have enrolled by the starting date. The minimum number of students required to run a course is 10 and the maximum is 16.
An early enrolment is recommended because access to Learning Central can take up to two weeks to set up after enrolment.
|Where can I find more information about the courses?||In the Choices magazine available from the Centre’s Reception office and in the Centre’s web pages (under Languages) on the Cardiff University website www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/choices/languages/public-service-interpreting/|
|Is there any financial support for students?||There is information on funding available to students on this web page: www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/choices/funding-your-learning/
Please take care when translating the name of a qualification from another country because you should only tick the “overseas degree” box in the enrolment form if it is at a level equivalent to a UK degree.
|What is the best way to communicate with the tutors?||The best way is by e-mail. If you feel that a phone or face to face conversation would be better, you can use e-mail to make an appointment.|
|Who can I contact if I have other questions?||Please send any further queries to Elsa Cowie by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your telephone number if you would like her to ring you and / or arrange to meet at the Centre.|