Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu

Frequently Asked Questions

Public Service Interpreting programme 
OUR COURSES   
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 feesbut we offer separate language specific supplementary courses. 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 both students new to interpreting but also 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.

The main topics covered in the PSI Health and Law modules are:

  • The skills required of a Public Service Interpreter and tested in the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI) examination (see questions on the DPSI below): consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, sight and written translation.
  • The Impartial Model of interpreting and issues and principles of professional conduct for PS interpreters.
  • 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 that causes the most difficulty isspecialised terminology and also colloquial language like euphemisms, idioms, swearing and potentially embarrassing language.
Will the course cover all the terminology a PS interpreter will need to know? No, you can never do that as language evolves and there are many specialised topics that could come up. 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 and then select one of the specialised courses (PSI Health or Law). There is also an English support module called “English Language and Communication Skills for Public Services” that can be taken in parallel with the above modules.
Are there any tests or exams in the courses? There are written and oral bilingual tests during the courses. 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, the main UK qualification for Public Service Interpreting is the DPSI.

At the end of each course you take, you will receive an assessment form outlining the grades obtained in the assessments and the credits gained (for more information on the credit system go to: www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/choices/accreditation.php.

Students who gain 60 level 1 (CQFW 4) credits from relevant courses will be eligible for a Foundation Certificate in Public Service Interpreting. Relevant courses include the PSI modules and some courses from the Law and Science sections of the Choices programme. There is a full list on this web page:

www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/assets/PDF/student_information/List-of-foundation-certificates.pdf

This is an internal departmental award that recognises a student’s interest and commitment to the subject.

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 Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning, 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:

www.cardiff.ac.uk/regis/sfs/studentcases/extenuatingcircumstances.html

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. For more information on that exam, go to www.iol.org.uk/qualifications/exams_dpsi.asp

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 and students who do not wish to take the exam are still welcome to attend our courses. The DPSI examination fees are outlined in this web page: www.iol.org.uk/qualifications/DPSI/DPSIFees13.pdf

 

What does the DPSI examination consist of? There are two written translations, one from English into the Other Language (OL) and the other one from the OL into English, and two oral components: dialogues and sight translations. There are two dialogues involving consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, one where the simultaneous interpreting is from English into the Other Language (OL) and the other one from the OL into English, and two sight translations (oral translation of a written text) again in both directions. 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. This depends on the number of students taking a specific language/pathway (Law, Health or Local Government) combination and on how many teams of assessors are available for a particular language.

Information on dates and fees can be found on the IoL website (www.iol.org.uk). For further information on sitting the examination in Cardiff 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 training.
Will I be ready to sit the DPSI exam by the end of the PSI Health or Law course? This will depend on several factors like how much study and research you are able to do during the course and your interpreting experience. The 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 either register for one task only or 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 IoL web site www.iol.org.uk/qualifications/exams_dpsi.asp 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 a course you will have access to a full set of past papers from the library at LEARN.
LANGUAGE RELATED QUESTIONS   
Can I find out if there are other students who speak my language in the class before I enrol? We have a form in Reception for students to give us more information about their other language(s) and background and we are encouraging students to fill it in and return it when they enrol. Once we have collected the forms for all students who have already enrolled we should be able to give prospective students information about possible language partners.
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.
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 (like 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. The Wales Interpretation and Translation Service (WITS, 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 having qualifications in relation to their booking policies. For some bookings they approach qualified interpreters first and pay a higher rate.

The NRPSI website (www.nrpsi.org.uk) can also help to give an idea of 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 entry.
PRACTICAL ISSUES  
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 study for four hours on their own for each hour they spend in class.

Where will the course be taught? The courses are generally taught at the Centre for Lifelong Learning in Senghennydd Road (CF24 4AG) 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 we call “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 department (INSRV). The use of Learning Central is an essential part of the course and it is demonstrated in class throughout the course.

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 Reception at the Centre for Lifelong Learning (Senghennydd Rd, CF24 4AG). You can obtain the form by downloading it from the web www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/enrol/ or from Reception 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 18.

An early enrolment is recommended because access to Learning Central (see above) can take up to two weeks to set up.

 

Where can I find more information about the courses? In the Choices magazine available from the Reception office at LEARN and in the LEARN web pages (under Languages) in the Cardiff University website from July www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/choices/languages/public-service-interpreting/
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.
Is there any financial support for students? There is a Fee Waiver Scheme (FWS) for students who can present documentation to prove they were on benefits within 6 weeks of the start of the course and who do not already have a qualification from Great Britain or another country (for further information go to www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/choices/funding-your-learning/fee-waiver/. 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.

WITS have a loan scheme to assist some of their interpreters with training costs. To apply you need to email Tony Wilcox at wits@gwent.pnn.police.ukwith your full name, the course that you are applying for and the course fees. You will be required to confirm in writing that you understand it is a loan and that WITS are entitled to recover the full amount by deducting it from your future pay for WITS assignments.

If WITS agree to fund you then you can put their contact details in the enrolment form and LEARN will invoice them directly.

Who can I contact if I have other questions? Please send any further queries to Elsa Cowie by e-mail (cowiee1@cardiff.ac.uk) or your telephone number if you would like her to ring you and / or arrange to meet at the centre.