Mgr. Hana Strachoňová, Ph.D.
We overcome linguistic and cultural barriers.
The Czech Sign Language Interpreting Studies study programme is principally aimed at preparation of qualified experts providing interpreting and translation services for the citizens of the Czech Republic with hearing impairment who are entitled to such services under the current legislation (Act No. 155/1998 Coll., on communication systems of deaf and deafblind persons, as amended by Act No. 384/2008 Coll.). It is chiefly an interdisciplinary study programme combining theoretical linguistics and social services: Czech Sign Language is studied in the context of a linguistic description of other natural languages, and it is used practically in services for deaf and hard of hearing persons.
The focus of the studies comprises three mutually interconnected areas: i) theoretical knowledge of general linguistics; ii) proficiency in Czech Sign Language; iii) specific professional expertise and interpreting skills.
Strong emphasis is placed on mastering Czech Sign Language, especially in the first part of the studies, as high level of proficiency is the basis for being able to work independently as a Czech Sign Language interpreter and translator. The involvement of native signers with pedagogical experience in the position of lecturers ensures that students will be in contact with the native form of Czech Sign Language. In addition, the theoretical linguistic apparatus allows them to understand the language as a system with well-defined rules. Despite its different physical implementation, it does not differ greatly in its abstract form from other natural languages. Such reflections make the learning process in practice faster and deeper. Expertise unrelated to language competence is acquired particularly in the field of social work (as interpreting is considered by law to be a social service in a number of cases), relevant Czech legislation and the Deaf community (e.g. cultural and historical context, differentiation of service recipients, etc.).
All the above-mentioned layers of the study programme are interwoven in practical interpreting courses, combining theoretical and practical training. A placement in organizations providing interpreting services is an integral part of the studies.
The compulsory practical training comprises 480 hours and can be divided as following: 430 hours of interpretation in organizations providing interpreting services and 50 hours in community organizations of the Deaf.
The first type of training mentioned above is the content of the courses Practical Training and Supervision in Social Work I and II (worth six and eight credits respectively; included in the study plan for the fifth and sixth semester). The second type forms part of the courses Language practice II, IV and VI (worth four credits each; included in the study plan for the second, fourth and sixth semester).
Regarding the practical training in organizations providing interpreting services (430 hours), students are expected to visit a certain number of such institutions before the practical training itself, i.e. in the period from the first to the fourth semester. These excursions are part of the courses related to interpreting skills – Czech-Czech Sign Language Interpreting I-IV, Self-management and Non-profit Sector and Practicalities of Becoming an Interpreter. During these excursions the students will acquire basic insight into the facilities they will later choose to do their practical training in.
The aim of the practical training is to: i) make students familiar with different types of institutions and thus shorten the adaptation period after starting their job and create conditions for rapid professional growth; ii) foster direct involvement of students in real-life interpreting situations.
The course Practical Training and Supervision in Social Work I comprises at least 50 hours of observation and 100 hours of direct interpreting.
The course Practical Training and Supervision in Social Work II comprises 200 hours of direct interpreting
The practical training may be completed any time during the studies; however, the recommended study plan assumes no previous knowledge of Czech Sign Language and the sufficient level of the language can only be reached in the third year of study. Those students who already work as interpreters may have the required number of interpreting hours recognized as the compulsory practical training or part of it.
The aim of the practical training in community organizations of the Deaf (50 hours) is to introduce the students into the Deaf community. Students will help by organizing cultural and sport evets in the community. We expect them able to comply with such tasks from the second semester already. In order to successfully finish the courses Practical CSL II, IV and VI, the students need to complete this type of the practical training (17 , 17 and 16 hours respectively).
The Czech Sign Language Interpretation Studies study programme is primarily aimed at preparing graduates to work as interpreters within the distribution system of interpreting and translation services for the Czech Republic citizens with hearing impairment, i.e. to work in organizations which provide interpreting services for this group of recipients. However, the programme also creates an appropriate framework for any position requiring a representative profile, good level of expressiveness and communication skills in mother tongue or foreign languages. Having mastered the theoretical linguistic approaches as part of the studies, the graduate is ready to perform not only tasks that assume understanding the structure of mother tongue and foreign languages but also any other positions requiring analytical thinking.
There are some examples of working areas (I-V) and different positions (1-6) suitable for the study programme’s graduates:
I) Interpreting in the field of social work
1. The graduate can work as an interpreter for citizens with hearing impairment when exercising their rights, pursuing legitimate interests and dealing with personal affairs, for example in the area of health and social issues (such as discussions with the Labour Office, Czech Social Security Administration, Department of Social Affairs and Health, register and other offices), in justice and communication with the Police of the Czech Republic, on the occasion of weddings, births of a child, care provision for older people, inheritance proceedings, funerals, negotiations with insurance companies, banks, lawyers, craftsmen, etc.
II) Interpreting in the field of education
2. The graduate can work as a teaching assistant in mainstream and special schools ensuring integration/inclusion.
III) Interpreting in other areas
3. The graduate can work as an interpreter in the working environment (internal and external corporate communication, specialist seminars) and cultural and social events such as conferences, balls or theatre performances.
4. To work as a translator between Czech (or other spoken languages) and Czech Sign Language (written communication with authorities and institutions, translating laws, websites, etc.)
5. To work as a manager in translation agencies.
6. The graduate can work as an editor, proofreader, lexicographer or language data annotator.
Students have a pre-defined list of required courses, which are supplemented with selective and elective courses. The student pays full attention to the single field of study chosen.
In this type of studies, the students focus on the main degree programme (120 credits) supplemented with another, minor, programme (60 credits). The student enrols in the degree programme in which he/she majors. Both the programmes are stated in the university diploma. You will find possible combinations on the websites of individual degree programmes. An exception is programmes preparing students for teaching professions, where both fields of study are equal and the thesis may be written in any of them.
An example of your study plan:
The graduates of the Czech Sign Language Interpreting Studies study programme can continue to study any Master’s degree programme. The accreditation of the Czech Sign Language Interpreting Studies Master’s programme should take place in the future; however, it is not currently accredited. Depending on the student’s specialization, it seems best to choose the following Master’s programmes:
a) philologically oriented programmes at the Faculty of Arts: e.g. the General Linguistics programme or a specific philology programme provided the graduate commands the given language at the required level;
b) pedagogically and socially oriented programmes at the Faculty of Education: e.g. Special Education programme focused on speech and language therapy and teaching persons with hearing impairment; Special Education focused on teaching persons with hearing impairment and sign language (a study programme primarily intended for students with hearing impairment); Special Education - Communication Techniques; Specialization in Education (teaching specific courses); Social and Free Time Education at the Faculty of Social Studies – Social Work.
|Provided by||Faculty of Arts|
|Type of studies|
|Standard length of studies||3 years|
|Language of instruction||Czech|