Christopher Stone (UK-US) and David Vinson (UK)

Saturday September 13th 2014

13:45-14:20         Christopher Stone (UK/US) and David Vinson (UK)

“Cognitive changes in interpreters as a result of sign language interpreter training and experience”

This presentation will report on a longitudinal aptitude study following the learning trajectory of undergraduate students within Deaf studies and interpreting programs identifying the factors that are relevant for sign language learning and relevant for sign language interpreting. It will also compare these results with experienced interpreters (10+ years and full professional status) identifying those cognitive developments that occur during training and those that develop with experience.

A battery of tasks was administered to the undergraduates, which can broadly be split into five areas:

  1. General language skills – Modern Language Aptitude Task (MLAT) administered semester one (five sub-tests)
  2. General intelligence – digit span and matrix reasoning administered semesters one and six
  3. L1 language skills – English reading age administered semesters one and six
  4. L2 language skills – BSL grammatically judgement task (BSLGJT) administered semesters one, three, five, six
  5. Cognitive tasks – connections A (psychomotor) and B (psychomotor and cognitive control), patterns (perceptual processing) and a flanker task (conflict processing) administered semesters three, five, six

This test battery was also administered to undergraduates in Deaf studies programs that included an interpreting specialisation (n = 22), a control group of undergraduates with no exposure to BSL and studying psychology (n = 21) and expert interpreters with 10 or more years’ experience and full professional status (n = 14).

Initial analysis shows that learning BSL does enhance psychomotor skills, task switching and conflict resolution.