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An Increasing Need for a Community Interpreting System in South Korea

Posted By admin On May 30, 2013 @ 1:27 pm In Abstracts for 2013, Linguistics and Language Teaching | Comments Disabled

Jieun Lee, Associate Professor

Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation

Ewha Womans University

South Korea

With over 14 million foreign residents and a huge number of overseas visitors staying in South Korea, the Korean society needs a proper community interpreting system that can help those with limited Korean ability or those from non-Korean speaking backgrounds access public services in Korea. Community interpreting is required when non-Korean speakers come into contact with Korean public service providers such as court officers, police officers, immigration officials, doctors and school teachers to name a few. However, despite recent government efforts to provide language assistance through community centres for ethnic minorities, they lack professional quality interpreting services. Consequently, those from non-Korean speaking backgrounds who require interpreting services often suffer from inadequate interpreting services provided by untrained, ad-hoc interpreters. There is a shortage of community language interpreting program, and Korean government ministries and agencies run their own interpreting or language aid programs engaging untrained and often unqualified volunteer interpreters. Expectedly, inadequate interpreting may have implications for the quality of cross-linguistic and cross-cultural communications in various public service settings such as courtroom trials, police interviews and medical consultations. Korean interpreting researchers have called for the need of a systemic community interpreting system (Ryoo 2006; Kang 2008; Kim et al. 2008; Lee 2010, 2012).

Based on literature review, interviews and surveys, this paper canvasses the need for a systemic community interpreter training and certification system that may be conducive to the enhancement of non-Korean speakers’ access to justice and other public services. It also examines two university-led community interpreter training programs, one of which focuses on legal interpreting and the other on medical interpreting. This paper calls for the government to develop a sound and systemic policy for community interpreting for non-Korean speaking populations in Korea, which includes support for proper interpreter training and professional interpreter certification.

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URL to article: http://www.najaks.org/?p=964