English-to-Russian interpreting course in distance mode: Methodological issues and curriculum implementation challenges
Irina V. Tivyaeva – Albina A. Vodyanitskaya
As Covid19 spread around the world causing national lockdowns, millions of school and university students had to continue their studies in distance mode. The unplanned shift to online learning turned out to be a challenge to educators in many fields, the most problematic spheres being those that conventionally rely on face-to-face interactions. University programs in interpreting were among the worst affected ones as interpreter training requires conference equipment, direct tutor guidance and long hours of individual and group work. Adapting a graduate course in consecutive interpreting to the online format highlighted a number of methodological issues and curriculum limitations related to the specifics of the digital learning environment. Following a case-study design, this paper presents an in-depth analysis of positive and negative factors of mid-term transition to distant mode in interpreter training with a special emphasis on methodological and technological aspects of synchronous online teaching. In exploring the efficiency of the new format, the study relies on a three-phase research procedure developed to monitor the transition process on the basis of pre-start screening, progress tracking and final evaluation data. The set of methods and tools employed to obtain and analyze research data includes student questionnaires, regular class observations, student self-assessment reports, open discussions and retrospective protocols. The study uses qualitative analysis in order to gain insights into advantages and disadvantages of the new format and assess its application perspectives. The findings suggest for a blended model and a need for developing the concept of digital didactics.
Key words: COVID-19, interpreter training, distance mode, online course, university curriculum