Reflections on the CIT Conference

Here are some of the things I learned, was reminded of, or thought about during the CIT conference I attended this past week:

  • I was reminded that people remember most what they learn first and last (primacy and recency). In the future, when I teach a class or a workshop, I will begin and end with exercises that engage students in active learning that is content-focused. Also, I was taught that nothing shuts down a student more than fear and anxiety. Hmm… Note to self: in the future, do not begin a class by giving out graded homework that for several students is copiously red-penned and graded lower than they might have liked, and do not end class with a discussion of the next homework assignment!😉 Instead, begin a class session with a lively, fun exercise that engages students in active learning that is tied directly into the content matter of the class. End with a summary of what I taught them in class that day, or — better yet! — with an active learning exercise in which the students take turns summarizing (teaching each other) what they learned in class that day. Don’t bother marking up their papers with all kinds of editorial marks. If their writing is very poor, give them a poor grade and have them come to you after class if they want to talk about it. Hand out homework on a paper to them as they leave the classroom. Take care of “housekeeping” during the middle of class. Save the first and last portions of the class for the meat of the lesson. (Inspiration: “Designing and Delivering Effective, Learner-Engaged Trainings” by Len Roberson and Shannon Simon — one of the only workshops I ever gave all fives to on the RID evaluation form)
  • A conference venue for attendees who communicate in sign language must have large common areas, wide corridors, non-distracting walls (e.g. floral patterns and huge mirrors), and lighting that is bright but not glaring. Unfortunately, the Red Lion Hanalei Hotel in San Diego was not an ideal conference venue for visual-gestural communication and traffic flow!
  • Discourse analysis and genre recognition are areas that I would like to do further learning and teaching on. (Inspirations: “What Does a Discourse Approach Look Like” by Cinthia Roy and Betsy Winston and “Discourse: Applying What We Know Thruough Translation and Note Taking” by Campbell McDermid. Further reading: “Still Talking… About Language Genres (A DVD-ROM Series)” by David Still. I didn’t go to his workshop because I was tired, though I would have gone if I’d been up to it.)
  • There is so much lacking in the typical associate degree interpreter training program (ITP). It’s no wonder there’s such a gap between education and job readiness. The program I went to took me five years to complete and all I got was a lousy associate degree.😉 Even the bachelor’s degree program at Northern Colorado University requires students to learn ASL before they can even begin the program, so here’s my suggestion: why don’t community college ITP’s prepare for the future by redesigning themselves as “feeder” programs for university ITP’s. Correct me if I’m wrong, but most students who graduate from community college ITP’s are not ready to work as interpreters, and many of them still lack fluency in ASL upon graduation. Instead of rushing students through a few ASL and interpreting courses, why not teach them ASL in depth to ensure that they have not only fluency in the language (BICS: Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) but also a deep metalinguisitic understanding of ASL (CALP: Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency)? I’m afraid I might be making enemies of community colleges by saying this, but wouldn’t you rather turn out brilliant signers than non-interpreters? Granted, some of the students who graduate from certificate- or associate-level ITP’s are job-ready. Some of them are job-ready before they even graduate from the program, though that says more about the student than the program. No one curriculum is right for everyone. Maybe a certificate or associate degree ITP would be a good fit for a CODA (child of deaf adult), since they are already fluent in ASL and Deaf culture. But ever since I went through my ITP in 1989-1993, I’ve wished there were more bachelor’s degree ITP’s. (Inspiration: “A Competency-based Approach in a BA Interpreter Education Program” by Anna Witter-Merithew)

It should go without saying, but the people who inspired my thoughts do not necessarily share them. I take responsibility for stating my own opinions.

Author: Daniel Greene

I facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing people, and I teach people American Sign Language (ASL) and interpreting. Apart from doing the work I love, my greatest joys are family & friends, entertainment, food, photography, and travel.

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