The Community Interpreter 40-hour Certificate Program Unit Breakdown

The 40-hour Community Interpreter® certificate program teaches ethical standards and technical skills for community interpreters wanting to expand their knowledge and capabilities in preparation for taking the National Medical Interpreter Certification (CHI or CMI exams) exam. In five units, the program covers the following areas:


UNIT ONE: Ethics and Conduct

  • Overview of the community interpreting profession
  • Language proficiency testing and interpreter certification
  • Language access laws
  • Interpreter self-assessment (recording exercise)
  • Codes of ethics for interpreters
  • A National Code of Ethics for Community Interpreters (annotated NCIHC national code)
  • Applying codes of ethics in the field


UNIT TWO: The Interpreted Session

  • Overview of the interpreted session
  • Interpreter modes and selecting modes
  • Steps for sight translation
  • Components of the session
  • Assignments, preparation, professional introductions
  • Managing the flow, terminology
  • Intervention
  • Core skills: accuracy, interpreting for meaning, positioning, first and third person, register, vulgarity, role shifts, memory, note-taking
  • Post-session: reporting, critical incidents, processing


UNIT THREE: Culture and Mediation

  • Culture and cultural competence
  • Meaning and mediation
  • Steps for mediation and basic mediation skills
  • Interpreter duties and interpreter roles
  • Checking for understanding, clarification, cultural mediation
  • CHIA decision-making guidelines
  • The client as cultural expert
  • Stereotyping and bias


UNIT FOUR: Community Services

Unit Four is presented according to the needs of the audience. If participants come primarily from one sector (e.g., health care), that sector alone will be discussed during this unit.

  • Interpreting in Health Care, Interpreting in Educational Settings, Interpreting for Human Services
  • Introduction to legal interpreting
  • Community vs. legal interpreting
  • Overview of the U.S. health care system, human and social services, or of the U.S. Department of Education (K-12 schools) depending on course audience
  • Professional concerns, e.g., signing as a witness; liability; interpreter insurance
  • Terminology in community services (may address medical, educational or social services, or all three sectors) and use of dictionaries and aids


UNIT FIVE: Standards of Practice

  • Standards of practice for community interpreters: national standards and best practices
  • Applying standards in the field
  • Professional boundaries
  • Advocacy
  • Interpreter safety
  • Professional development


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