So Far Away and Yet So Close: A study of remote interpretation in the classroom
There were no educational institutions in the world which predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic would force them to go completely online. Unlike the more conventional courses which involve the instructor giving a lecture and students asking questions, for interpretation classes, especially simultaneous interpretation, there are more than two people talking at the same time, thereby complicating the technical aspect by several fold. Due to the global outbreak of COVID-19 and the spread of remote interpretation, however, in the future, remote oral language mediation could become the new norm and “the new situation will thoroughly rearrange the market for language service providers as well as interpreter training” (Eszenyi, 2021, p. 112). In view of recent trends, it was felt that educational institutions of interpretation and translation should also engage in a constructive dialogue regarding effective ways to provide remote interpretation instruction. Against this backdrop, this study seeks to analyze online interpretation classes from the point of view of the ‘social presence theory’ which has already been proven to be an effective analytical tool in research regarding online mediated learning environments. To this end, we conducted a survey of instructors and interpreting students at interpretation institutions in Korea. The analysis shows that both instructors and students experienced a low level of social presence in terms of its three dimensions: co-presence, psychological involvement, and behavioral engagement due to 100% online interpretation classes. Based on the findings, we suggest that interpretation and translation institutions offer classes in an online and offline hybrid format with more opportunities for offline interaction outside of class. In addition, we emphasize the need for technical support at the school level because the technical aspects are important in learning efficiency in the computer mediated communication (CMC) environment. Unlike previous remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI) studies, this study holds significance in that it explored the issue of remote interpretation education using the social presence theory.
RSI, social presence theory, co-presence, psychological involvement, behavioral engagement