Gabby: 00:00 Hi everyone. Welcome to Subject to Interpretation, hosted by Agustin de la Mora. This is our space for professional interpreters to share their stories and advice, and discuss current events in the profession and where it’s heading. But today it will actually be hosted by us!
Claudia: 00:16 Hello, my name is Claudia Eslava and I am the director of operations of de la Mora Interpreter Training. Now I thought today would be a fun episode if we were to interview our staff. Now we have two different reasons for doing so. The first one because Agustin happens to be very busy this week and he was not able to record a podcast, but number two, because I genuinely do believe we have something to say, we have some information that you might find it useful. So here I am joined by Katie and Gabby and I will let them introduce themselves.
Katie: 00:53 All right, my name is Katie Mckay. I am the special projects coordinator here. Um, that can involve a lot of different things including curriculum development, working on special government contracts, occasionally customer service, and managing our continuing education courses.
Claudia: 01:12 And how long have you been with us, Katie?
Katie: 01:13 I have been here for about a year and a half so far.
Claudia: 01:17 Nice. Yes. Gabby?
Gabby: 01:20 So, um, my name is Gabriella Villalba. I have been here for about seven, eight months or so. And I am the creative director here. So basically that means that I create a lot of the audiovisual video materials that you guys often times see in courses and on social media. So I take part in a lot of marketing and a lot of filming and editing and just fun stuff like that; kind of behind the scenes work and occasionally customer service as well.
Claudia: 01:54 Great. Now, I don’t think I mentioned, but I have been with this company now for about three years and most of my background is in marketing. Now as the director of operations, you might imagine that, you do a lot of different things and that’s the same for me. I’m in charge a lot of, a lot of different aspects of this business. Now that being said, I do have a background in marketing. I used to work for in the marketing team for the Dr. Phillips Center here in Orlando, Florida. So in turn I would like to ask you girls, what is your experience, and what brought you to this company?
Gabby: 02:31 So, um, for a really long time, well actually since I was, since probably before I was born, my mother was a certified interpreter, she is federally certified, and she’s actually an instructor from a lot of our online classes that you might recognize. Her name is Claudia Villalba. And, um, I have pretty much had that experience of like watching interpret, kind of figuring out what the profession is based on, you know, just like knowing her and what she does. And, um, I do know, you know, English and Spanish, but I don’t think I could do it. Like interpreting is just, I mean, it’s crazy. That woman is so talented and skilled.
Claudia: 03:18 Absolutely. Yes. We love Claudia Villalba and we love Gabriella Villalba!
Gabby: 03:24 Yeah. But, um, besides that, you know, I have a little bit of like an artistic teaching background. So I think working for an online school and kind of managing the media has been really fun for me.
Claudia: 03:35 Exactly. And we’re lucky to have you, in case you haven’t seen her work go to our Facebook page! Once again, background in marketing. I apologize in advance. Now, Katie.
Katie: 03:45 Alright. So the first time I heard of DE LA MORA Interpreter Training, I was a student in the translation and interpretation program of the University of Central Florida. I was actually studying to become an interpreter or a translator and I was offered an internship while in that program by DE LA MORA Interpreter Training. And I came here and learned a lot more about the profession and I found out I actually love working behind the scenes. So that’s where I am today, um, from my start as an intern here.
Claudia: 04:18 Yes. And I think I can say with confidence that you’re our favorite intern.
Claudia: 04:27 Yes. Now, unlike Katie and Gabby, who already had some sort of idea, whether well informed or not, of what the world of interpretation was, I personally did not know or really even think that this field existed, even though I am myself a bilingual and I have a very similar background to a lot of people in this field who start interpreting to begin with. I was born in Colombia. I moved here to Orlando when I was 12 years old. And I’ve, uh, I grew up here in the states. So I also had, uh, had the beginning of, once again, a very similar beginning to other interpreters of always being at the interpreter of the household. Right. As I’m growing up, as I learn English, I’m the person who interprets between the bank and my parents, and so on. But even then, while I was going through that process, I never ever thought that there was a field out there, uh, for professional interpreters. So this was when I came on board with this company. And, um, and that’s it. So I want to ask Katie and Gabby, what was your perception of interpreting before you got started working here and how has that changed?
Katie: 05:38 I always thought that it would be something difficult and my perception of that has not changed. I do have even more respect for the people who have gone on to become interpreters. That might be something I will pursue in the, but I admire the people who can do that. I understand better what’s involved in it. Um, I’ve always thought it was fascinating hearing people take something from one language and turn it into another. It was kind of like magic. So I still think it’s kind of like magic, but I know more about how that magic works.
Claudia: 06:18 Gabby?
Gabby: 06:21 Yeah, I mean it is like magic. It’s like seeing what happens but from behind the scenes now, and it’s really neat to see like the way that people build these exercises, there’s a lot that goes on. A lot more to it than you would really imagine as, like, you know, somebody on the outside who doesn’t interpret. I mean, it’s definitely not about just knowing two languages because I know two languages, but I mean, there is a lot you need to know. You need to have the skills, you need to have, you know, the knowledge. Um, you have to research a lot. It’s, it’s really some intense work. So I mean, yeah.
Claudia: 06:57 Okay. So now that we have spoken a little bit about our backgrounds, um, the reason why we sort of wanted to put this podcast together is because like I mentioned earlier, wanting to share, um, some information that we’ve gathered over the years. Uh, the first thing we want to talk about is our experience as an educational company with beginning, or beginner interpreters. Uh, and what are the most common questions that we get? So what do you guys think?
Gabby: 07:29 I think that a lot of people don’t really know where to start. Um, which is totally understandable. The state websites that you have to navigate to figure out how to even start to become an interpreter are really difficult to navigate. I mean, there’s so much out there. So, I mean we do get a lot of phone calls where there’s a lot of confusion. People typically think that we are the state and that we are the certifying body when in reality we are just, you know, training people to get certified. So kind of redirecting is something that we often times, um, do.
Claudia: 08:06 Absolutely. Katie?
Katie: 08:08 Um, we also get a lot of questions about certification. So how, how to get it, what does it mean? Is it going to be difficult? So we answer a lot of questions. We are pretty familiar with the process of becoming certified now, because we’ve learned how to explain it. Um, for all you whether you’re going for medical, legal certification, does have a lot of different steps involved and we’ve, we’ve become really good at answering questions on what those steps are.
Claudia: 08:36 Yes. Then I would add to that, that a lot of our callers who are just starting their journeys are not familiar with the, with the fluency standards, or they overestimate their own abilities. I think that’s a big one. And once they take a class for the first time, then they realize, okay, I don’t think I’m ready to even take the certification test or, or they, they’re better informed on what their next step should be. So that’s pretty interesting. Um, now next, what are the most common questions that we get from the certified interpreter, the professionals who are already working out in the field?
Gabby: 09:16 So we offer a lot of CEU-eligible courses and we get a lot of phone calls, you know, like how do I get these CEU’s, what CEU’s, um, do you guys give them? And Katie usually, um, answers those phone calls.
Katie: 09:31 So we have to– every state has a little bit different requirements for states that do offer CEU’s. A lot of states– several states that have interpreter programs don’t actually require continuing education credits. So these are few and far between, but for states that we do have to apply and send an application to be approved for them, um, each state is different. Some states the students can apply for CEU’s themselves, and they don’t actually have to find a course that’s approved by their state. They can just apply individually. Um, some states do not allow self paced programs, so you have to have an instructor there live, talking to you. Um, some states offer their own interpreter education, like New Jersey. You don’t actually have to take any extra courses because the state itself offers all the training you’ll need to maintain your certification. Um, so it’s a little different for every state, so it never hurts to ask us. So we’ll always show what states have approved our courses before you take it. It’s always good to verify and make sure you’re approved before you take the course, just to make sure everything’s good. It would be bad to finish a course and then realize that course wasn’t approved for your state. So it’s always a good idea to just double check with us. Double check with your state.
Claudia: 10:50 Absolutely, yes. I think it’s important. We’ll always have an answer regarding continuing education credits, but I think it’s also important for certified interpreters to know what the rules are in their state, what their requirements are in their state, um, before they enroll for, for any class that provides continuing education credits. Uh, along the same lines, I believe that we also get a few phone calls regarding reciprocity, which are questions that we cannot answer. Once again, sometimes there’s a misconception or misunderstanding, that a lot of interpreters believe that we are in partnership with the states; that we can provide this very specific information that we, in fact, cannot. So always, always, call your state, speak, and know who the language access coordinator is in your state, um, and have your deadlines always in a notepad somewhere. Because next I would actually like to talk about, uh, one of the, of the biggest problems that certified interpreters face, and some of the issues that we, ourselves as an educational organization deal with. And I think part of that is the interpreters, a lot of the times, are not keeping track of their deadlines. I think that’s a big one. They will call us a day, a week before their continued education credits are due, asking which courses can cover those requirements. And I think it’s important that we all, uh, that interpreters, certified interpreters, specifically, be aware of what their deadlines are. Now what other problems do you think we certified interpreters face?
Katie: 12:30 So one problem that kind of connects with the waiting for the last minute to get your CEU’s, many interpreters will wait until the last moment to sign up for their class. So even if they know that they’ll be done in time to receive their CEU’s and have them in by their deadline, they still wait until the last moment to sign up for this course. And that’s a problem for us when we are deciding whether or not we should offer the class, because we do need a minimum of a certain amount of students. And the sooner we know that we have enough students to continue, the better. We always hate having to cancel the course, and we love to be able to know we have enough people right at the beginning and continue with the course.
Gabby: 13:11 And then if everybody like signs up for the course the day before, I mean, we’ve already canceled it. So yeah.
Claudia: 13:20 Yeah, unfortunately we need to know far in advance that we have enough students. Another thing that I would like to add to this is, um, the humility to learn and be open minded when it comes to taking in brand new information. Now I hope this doesn’t come off too negative in any way. Uh, but certified interpreters sometimes a have a different attitude than brand new interpreters. Brand new interpreters are, of course, more open to the learning process. Certified interpreters, I think we can all work, uh, we can work towards improving that attitude. A lot of the times we come in, you know, interpreters have a lot of experience behind them. Uh, they need to meet their continued education credits so they can continue to keep their certification status. Um, but the truth is, being open to new learning techniques, to new methods, is very, very important for the profession in general. It’s the only way that we’ll be able to improve as a whole. It’s not an individual problem. It’s a, it’s a career problem for everyone, I think.
Gabby: 14:39 I’ve noticed that. Um, so, in every hobby, everything you do, every profession, everything is going to involve learning, and learning, and learning, just for the rest of the time that you choose to do it.
Claudia: 14:53 Of course, especially in the language field, right? It’s always evolving, always changing.
Gabby: 14:59 Because new things are invented. So new words have to be invented for them, right? New concepts, I mean, everything’s always changing.
Claudia: 15:08 Yes. But you know, now that we got to tell you a little bit about the negative aspects, we want to tell you about the positive things that we’ve noticed as well, when speaking with hundreds of interpreters a year, um, I think a big one–well, go ahead Katie. What have you noticed?
Katie: 15:27 So we’ve noticed that when you talk about why did you get into the field of interpreting, a lot of interpreters want to help people. They’ve been doing it all their lives. They’ve been helping their family communicate with other people, helping friends. And a lot of people get into it just because they like the idea of helping other people, whether it’s helping the legal system continue to function as it should and put people on the same standing as English speaker,s or if it’s in the medical profession, making sure that people get the care they need. A big part of interpreting is just helping both sides.
Gabby: 16:03 Yeah, I’ve noticed a lot of interpreters are very passionate about what they do. I mean you really don’t see that in a lot of, you know, professions. Like it’s really amazing and really something I respect a lot about them, is that they really want to help and they’re always, um, I’ve noticed a lot of them really enjoy, you know, I get emails like, can you send me exercises? Can you send me things to build my skills? Like they always want to improve so they can, you know, get better at helping others.
Claudia: 16:33 Absolutely. And we’re in a very specific position in which we’re able to help those interpreters, even though we may not be interpreters yet, uh, nor maybe some of us will never want to become certified interpreters, but we’re in a beautiful spot right now in which we get to help interpreters be the best that they can be. Um, and therefore continuing this great, altruistic mission that’s very much within the core of interpreters and interpretation in general. Um, now I, the next thing I want to talk about, or, I want to ask you girls about, is what have you seen in the classes that you’ve, uh, that you’ve been a part of, with the instructors that you’ve spoken with, uh, that seem to be the best ways for the interpreters to improve their skills?
Gabby: 17:28 I’ve listened to Augustine, a lot. Since I’m the editor, I listened to a lot of his lectures and kind of put them together. And I know that, um, the main thing that he always puts emphasis on is listen to yourself. Record yourself, listen to yourself, and analyze what happened, and then do it all over again. That’s pretty much what seems to help a lot of people improve.
Claudia: 17:56 And that’s a huge one. A lot of the times when I’m on the phone with certified interpreters even, um, you know, I will often ask the question of how do you practice? Are you listening to your own practice? Uh, because that’s always step number one. I think it’s very important. It’s part of our signature DE LA MORA Interpreter methods, that you have to listen to yourself when you practice. So yeah that’s a really good one.
Katie: 18:25 Yes. And going along with, um, being open to change and open to learning, another, one of the best ways to improve is being open to new techniques and new technology, and being able to listen to someone who has something to say, someone who has something to teach you. So as we said before, the field is constantly changing. There’s new technology to help, there’s new technology that we need to learn how to use if we want to continue growing in the field. And it’s very comfortable to stay where we are and just do things the way we’ve always done them. But if we want the profession to grow as a whole, we need to be open to that, individually, and keep the profession moving forward.
Claudia: 19:11 Absolutely. I think the technology aspect of, of this field is a very important one that can no longer be ignored in any ways. Um, we know that the average of our students tend to be from 40 to 55; that’s our average age. Uh, so I think everyone needs to have a collective, a bigger collective effort, to keep up with technology as much as possible.
Gabby: 19:40 Yeah, I’ve heard Agustin say it in a few of his interviews, um, in previous podcasts that, um, you know, the profession, people say the profession is going to get taken over by machines, by technology, but it’s really getting dominated by interpreters that adapt to technology and use technology to their benefit.
Claudia: 19:59 Exactly. That’s what it’s all about. Adapt, adapt, adapt, right? Um, and then of course, I want to talk about a little bit about what we’re doing as a company. Uh, what we’re doing for the future of interpreting because I want you guys, our listeners, to really get to know us a little bit better, what our efforts are and what we’re working on currently.
Katie: 20:20 Right. So one of the things that we’re doing, and the way I got into this field, is through the internship program at the University of Central Florida. So we’re reaching, uh, the next upcoming generation of interpreters. Um, getting people inspired to join this field and showing them the benefits, the, the great things that can come from this field.
Claudia: 20:47 An insider’s view, right? At how, uh, at how it works, really, at what it takes educational wise, what the certification process is really like, and hopefully to inspire younger interpreters in general. The internship program’s pretty great. Uh, we also have many community events, free events, that we hold here in town, once again, to kind to inform our bilingual population that interpreting is a professional career. Like I mentioned, I had never heard of it, you know, before three years ago, I had never really considered interpreting as a possibility for myself as a bilingual person. So I really want to, uh, I want us to do the best that we can to inform the bilingual population that this is a very good career, a great possibility for them, and to get excited about this field in general.
Gabby: 21:52 Yeah. Um, I’m, I’m definitely advocating for a younger generation of interpreters because, um, when we started, when I got hired on, you know, we were making these webinars and I thought it was really good, but let’s face it, like a lot of people, young people, have pretty short attention spans. So I’ve been making all these videos, with little bits of information, but I really want to reach out to the younger community. I feel like it’s important, like we need that, you know, wave of energy.
Claudia: 22:26 And innovation, absolutely, innovation. We’re ready. And I think part of that community outreach, too, comes in the form of this podcast as well. Uh, Agustin sitting down with many, many professionals in the field to hopefully get you guys a much better insight into what everyone else is doing. The people that have been doing this for many, many years, what are they doing, uh, what are their everyday lives like? Um, I think that’s important. So hopefully you guys are enjoying these podcasts, because I know I am.
Gabby: 22:56 Yeah, I think that’s actually a really good part in the team effort of, you know, interpreters kind of uniting and discussing all these things. And everybody, rather than being really like individualistic.
Claudia: 23:08 Exactly. Um, another big thing that we’re currently working on, if in case you guys haven’t heard, is our membership program. DE LA MORA Interpreter Training does have a membership program and um, it’s just a way, a solution to make it as easy and as convenient as possible for all certified interpreters to get continuing education credits on a monthly basis. And even if you’re not certified, this is a wonderful membership to get new educational resources and webinars on a monthly basis. Uh, with our membership program, you’re getting at least two and a half hours of education every single month from different interpreters, uh, and from different professionals in the field. Every month we cover a different topic. Um, and it’s always really fun and exciting and it’s fairly inexpensive. So if you haven’t heard of it, definitely take a look. But yes, the membership is another way in which we’re hopefully changing the way we learn and continue our education.
Gabby: 24:11 And speaking of education, we are also working on spreading education opportunities. Um, we will be developing our train the trainer program soon. Working on teaching people to become trainers for interpreters and just spreading that knowledge further.
Claudia: 24:30 Exactly. So we’re really excited about that. We’re going to leave it vague because more details will be coming soon, but uh, that will be launching this year. So watch out for that. And then of course, um, this year, we have put on, we have on the schedule right now, more classes than we ever had in the history of this company.
Claudia: 24:52 So if you haven’t been to our website recently, it’s important that you go and take a look, or at least spread the word. Um, because we are offering classes now for, uh, immigration interpreters, for community interpreters, for legal, and of course medical interpreters. And we continue to expand our catalog of classes every month. So please share the news, we’re very excited about that as well.
Gabby: 25:19 Yes. And we definitely are moving into a lot more like, you know, a lot of different languages, because we used to be primarily just Spanish, English, but now we’re getting into a lot of, I mean, right now we have classes in Vietnamese, Arabic, Mandarin, we have Russian. So then some of our hopes for now are, you know, to see a lot of these students graduate and form associations for organizations. I mean, we want to see you guys team up and be part of existing associations to become part of the community. Exactly.
Claudia: 25:56 Yes. We’re stronger together always. Um, okay. Any closing observations?
Gabby: 26:05 Well we want to thank you guys again for joining us today. Yes. And, um, like Claudia was saying, you should definitely take a look at that website. We have so many classes and so much information, and memberships, you get discounts. So much fun!
Claudia: 26:21 Discounts are always great. And we’re always running different specials if you’re part of her newsletter or if you follow us on Facebook. Keep an eye out for those.
Gabby: 26:33 I also wanted to talk about some of the classes that are actually coming up pretty soon. Um, and we have an advanced consecutive and simultaneous course. So if you want to really grow your skills and you know, get CEU’s, sign up! Don’t wait, no last minutes. But the class will be beginning on April 1st. And then we also have our next 50 hour court interpreter program, which is awesome. It’s an introduction to certifying, to the certification process, and to just interpreting in general. So if you’re pretty new, this is definitely what we recommend for you. It’s for Spanish speakers and it is great. It’s all encompassing. You get a mock exam, it’s live classes, and that starts on April 8th.
Katie: 27:25 And we also have immigration interpreting for immigration-specific cases. That’s also beginning on April 1st. And then we have medical workers comp for California interpreters. Yes. California interpreters will be getting CEUs for this course, and that will begin on April 9th.
Claudia: 27:45 Very nice. Well, I really, really hope you guys were able to gain something from this podcast today, besides an insight into what we’re doing as a company next. I hope you were able to learn from our, from our most common questions. Um, the most common roadblocks that we face, and that you walked away with good information.
Gabby: 28:08 Yeah! So, grow with us!
Claudia: 28:12 Share this podcast, share the DE LA MORA Interpreter Training website. Um, yes. Grow with us, become a member!
Gabby: 28:24 We will see you guys soon! Bye!