400 Court Interpreting

Court Interpreters work in an adversarial environment but, as officers of the court, they must be completely neutral—not taking either side no matter what. Working in or for the Court gives rise to a whole universe of ethical and legal constraints. Along with the requirement for capable interpreters set forth in Section 14 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there is a serious responsibility set upon the shoulders of those interpreters. It is not a profession to be undertaken lightly.

Our Court Interpreting series is, in effect, an extension of our Paralegal Interpreting series. That is to say, it includes all of the paralegal courses. It also includes most of our medical and community interpreting courses.

In our court interpreting series you will expand your knowledge of criminal law, civil law and trial procedures. You will absorb a great deal of terminology and study the ethical and legal aspects of being a court interpreter. Everything you learned in the earlier series (i.e. Community Interpreting, Health Care Interpreting, and Para-Legal Interpreting) serves as the foundation for what you will learn now.

On the practical side you will spend time in court observation, extensive workshop instruction in both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting and many hours of practice in both modes.

Simultaneous vs. consecutive interpreting

A court interpreter works mostly in the simultaneous mode — interpreting everything that is said in English during the court session for the accused (or a party in a civil trial) — the questions and the legal arguments of lawyers, the responses made by all witnesses and anything said by the judge and the court clerk. This is to ensure that the end client can understand everything that is going on in their trial.

Consecutive interpreting is done for the witness who is testifying at the witness stand. There is no direct communication between the witness and the interpreter other than what is being interpreted for the record. No explanations, comments or suggestions — the interpreter's role is to provide a voice to the witness and no more.

Must you take the courses in a fixed sequence?

Yes and no. The courses are listed close to the order in which we generally deliver the series. However, we allow a great variation in that order. Certain courses, such as the introductory course to a series should be taken before the tutorials in that series. But you can jump ahead and take the introductory course for a series before completing the previous series. For example – Canadian Law for Interpreters is offered once a year at different times of year so it makes sense to take it when it is available without waiting to finish up your medical interpreting requirements.

Completion, Exam, Certificate

  • A Statement of Completion will be issued for each course.
  • A final exam will be offered upon completion of all courses. This is a modern exam created by VANSIT solely for this program. There is a fee for this exam.
  • A Certificate in Court Interpreting will be granted to students who have passed all of the courses the final exam (with a score of at least 70% on all components).
  • In order to call yourself a Certified Court Interpreter in B.C. you must pass the certification requirements and exam set out by the Society of Translators and Interpreters of B.C.