This monograph reports on research carried out with 25 young interpreters who participated in a simulated interpretation task. Our analysis of the youngsters’ performance on our simulated interpretation task revealed that youngsters were able to demonstrate their ability to carry out the very complex task of interpreting under particularly stressful conditions. Given their performance, we maintain that young interpreters exhibit at least some of the characteristics generally measured in prospective interpreters such as memory, analytical ability, speed of comprehension and production, and stress tolerance.
Understanding the Special Giftedness of Young Interpreters
- Students in this study were able to demonstrate their ability to carry out the very complex task of interpreting under particularly stressful conditions that included:
- An awareness by students that their performance was being evaluated, and
- Participation in a simulated interaction that was deliberately scripted to include a variety of linguistic and interactional challenges.
- All these students were successful in:
- transmitting meaning identified as essential to the communication,
- utilizing a variety of strategies to select and compress original utterances,
- attending to the tone and stance of the original,
- utilizing a number of strategies to convey, omit, mitigate, or aggravate the tone and stance of the original,
- keeping up with the flow of information,
- attending to language qua language,
- utilizing a variety of strategies to compensate for linguistic limitations.
- However, these cognitive skills do not always transfer to their academic work in school.
- Research needs to be done to discover and understand the gifts and talents of bilingual minority students.
- Practitioners need to develop qualitatively different programs designed to meet the needs of children who, while they display abilities that underlie academic problem-solving, appear not to have learned how to use these same abilities in academic tasks.
- Public recognition of these youngster’s gifts and talents, and specific attention to the development of their gifts have the potential of benefiting many Latino youngsters who are caught in a vicious cycle of indifference, underachievement, and school failure.