Limits and Opportunities for Training Conference Interpreters in Pandemic Times: The experience of the postgraduate course in conference interpreting at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic not only impacted the circulation of people and goods on a global scale but also affected the events sector, the conference interpreting market, and the training of future interpreters. The present text aims to share the experience of the all in all successful transition from face-to-face teaching to remote teaching during the pandemic and thus contribute to the already existing academic accounts on the effects of the pandemic on conference interpreting teaching and learning (Ahrens et al., 2021; Krouglov, 2021). We identify three major aspects that led to a rather smooth teaching mode transition: (1) the efforts that had been undertaken in the years prior to the pandemic to incorporate autonomous learning practices into the curriculum leading to the use of online tools, shifting classroom activities to the home/virtual environment; (2) the training of some members of our staff in blended learning techniques and the active use of learning platforms in training; and (3) the software offered by the university for online sessions. This article is divided into three parts: First, we present the main features of PUC-Rio’s original training course, then we redraw the steps taken to gradually adapt the course to the challenge of remote online teaching during the pandemic, and finally we draw an initial reflection on the program’s adaptation to the online teaching and learning format. We understand that, while the pandemic has posed a major challenge to our conventional teaching and learning mode, the program was able to overcome initial difficulties. Furthermore, the transition to a fully remote teaching mode led to unforeseen opportunities as far as, for instance, the recruitment of new candidates nation-wide is concerned. We understand that PUC-Rio’s adoption of a fully remote teaching and learning mode from 2020 onwards opens up new perspectives for conference interpreting training in the post-pandemic landscape in Brazil.
interpreter training, conference interpreting, COVID-19 pandemic, remote online teaching, remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI)