Online-interpreting in synchronous cyber classrooms
There have been a number of attempts to teach interpreting by distance mode using technologies such as teleconferencing, videoconferencing and Internet. Most of these attempts have faced a common constraint – the teacher and students cannot engage in live visual interaction as if they were in a physical language lab, and the effect of teaching is therefore compromised. As a result, most distance interpreting instruction is limited to the provision of interpreting materials for students to practise by themselves, and hence become a form of self study for students. This paper presents an experiment which tries to make use of the state-of-the-art synchronous cyber classroom to create a teaching and learning space that is comparable to face-to-face teaching, allowing the teacher to teach interpreting per se and students to practise interpreting in groups, pairs or individually under the teacher’s supervision. The key characteristic of this experiment is that the teacher and students can hear and see each other in teaching and learning as well as in practice. The findings of the experiment suggest that in spite of certain constraints inherent in computer technology, the important aspect of verbal and visual interaction in teaching interpreting per se can be accommodated using the technology of synchronous cyber classrooms.
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