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About Vancouver School of Interpreting and Translation

History of Interpreting and Translation Training in Canada

While the Canadian Government was working on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which came into force in 1982 and the United States Federal Courts were grappling with the Court Interpreters Act of 1978, Langara College was starting a Court Interpreter Certificate Program.

Behind that program was Jindra Repa, a professor of German at the University of British Columbia. He had been called to interpret in court with no preparation or knowledge of what would be required of him. He saw this as unfair to the interpreter and an injustice to the person for whom he would interpret. Langara College welcomed him and his idea and launched the court interpreting program in September 1979 with some twenty students in seven language combinations.

That was the beginning of multilingual court interpreter training in North America. Yolanda Hobrough was a student in that first class, a bilingual instructor the following year and continued with the program to become senior instructor and curriculum designer by 2000.

Langara split away from Vancouver Community College in 1994. The interpreting programs became part of the VCC curriculum and continued to set the world pace in court interpreter training. By 2012 there was still no other multilingual court interpreter training in Canada.

In July 2012 VCC announced the immediate closure of its interpreter training programs. They tried returning to the field a couple years later with an imported minimalist community interpreting program but closed that after two or three years, perhaps owing to competition that they had never had before.

The Language Bureau

The Language Bureau has provided interpreter training for clients since 1990. Much of the training was basic interpreting skills and ethics for previously un-trained people working in health authorities, immigrant assistance agencies or court services in BC and Alaska. We also provided more advanced courses to address specific client needs. Sometimes the training was delivered jointly with VCC, sometimes separately – never in competition.

We began providing voices for training and exam tapes for VCC in about 1990, the production of exam tapes in about 1995 and the complete design and production of court interpreting exams by about 2000. Jointly with VCC we designed and produced examination tapes and grading materials in twenty five languages for several hundred court interpreters elsewhere in Canada in 2010. We also designed and produced at first parts and later the entire national court interpreter certification exams in many languages from about 1993 to 2013.

However, our core business has always been providing top notch interpreters to the legal profession in BC, Alaska, and elsewhere. VCC graduates make up the majority of The Language Bureau’s workforce. When VCC ended its interpreter training programs, we foresaw a decline in the supply of trained Court Interpreters in about ten years and decided to expand our training activities by starting the Vancouver School of Interpreting.

All our training — from catch-up workshops for under-trained interpreters to master classes for seasoned performers — are now delivered by VANSIT with a complete set of studies similar to the former Langara/VCC offerings. A great majority of VanSIT instructors are graduates of the Langara/VCC program and many were also instructors there.

Head of School

Yolanda Hobrough
Certified Court Interpreter (FCCI, CTTIC)
Certified Translator (En<>Sp, Fr>Sp) CTTIC
Certified Conference Interpreter (CTTIC)

Yolanda was an instructor in the Langara/Vancouver Community College (VCC) interpreting certificate programs since 1980, having been a student in the premiere class of 1979. After taking time off from teaching (2009-2012) to participate in the development of the Ontario Court Interpreter Exams, she was slated to return to teaching in the fall of 2012. Then, VCC suddenly cancelled their highly regarded program.

Having been Senior Instructor and Curriculum Developer for VCC, Yolanda now brings her many years of expertise to continue training interpreters through the Vancouver School of Interpreting