terptree: How do I become a BSL/English Interpreter

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Monday, 19 December 2011

How do I become a BSL/English Interpreter

One of the questions that we are asked most here at terptree - is how do I become a BSL/English Interpreter? How long does it take? Which course should I go on......

We have put this blog together for you! Here are all the questions answered for you.

How long does it take to become a Sign Language interpreter?

To be a BSL (British Sign Language)/English Interpreter takes a minimum of 5 years but in practice people often take longer to gain experience and finish their training. It is important to have a good fluency in both languages so a good level of English is essential. Currently A-level English is recommended as the minimum. Should you decide to become an interpreter you will be rewarded with a challenging and interesting career as it is one that continues to evolve and develop.

What types of qualifications are there?

There are generally two types of qualifications you can study to train as a BSL/English Interpreter. You can either study for an Undergraduate qualification at University or take the vocational (NVQ) route. You can start at BSL Levels 1 and 2 then progress to NVQ BSL Levels 3 and 6. There are also postgraduate courses you can do to complete your formal training and this may enable you to register as a Registered Sign Language Interpreter (RSLI) with the NRCPD (see further information below)

Undergraduate degrees or certificates

· University of Bristol BSc Deaf Studies (Interpreting)

· University of Wolverhampton BA Interpreting (BSL/English)

· City Lit, London BA Deaf Studies (Interpreting option)

· UCLAN BA Deaf Studies (with graduate diploma)

· Heriot-Watt University Certificate in Interpreting Studies

· Belfast Metropolitan Introduction to BSL/English Interpreting

Vocational qualifications

There are a number of approved centres around the country – please visit www.signature.org.uk for more information and to find your local centre.

Postgraduate degrees

· UCLAN/SLI PG Diploma BSL/English Interpreting

· University of Durham PG Diploma BSL/English Interpreting

· Leeds MA/PG Diploma Interpreting (BSL/English)

Further information





Or to find out more, contact terptree at interpreting@terptree.co.uk


Dave Morris said...

Hello, thank you for this information. I have been looking for a clear explanation. I am hearing and I have a good command of English, though I do not have English A-level, and I have basic BSL. I would like to train as an Interpreter. I have friends who are already there. Starting at Level 1,2, 3 and then 6, you then say that there are postgraduate courses to achieve final qualification. I have never been to University. Does it matter that I do not have a degree?

terptree said...

Hi there David, our pleasure, glad you found it useful!

My name is Victoria - Director of terpree and Registered BSL/English Interpreter.

For my training, I completed a Post Graduate Diploma at a company called SLI Ltd, affiliated with UClan - led by Peter Lewellyn-Jones - which was fantastic! I think that they do suggest that you have A Level English.
So I would say that this would very much depend on the course provider.

There is also another path - completing Level 1, Level 2, NVQ Level 3, NVQ Level 6 Language Units and then NVQ Level 6 Interpreting Units.

Hope that this is useful David?

Dave Morris said...

Thank you Victoria. This is very helpful. Now for the next questions. How long does each part take? I know Level 1 takes 1 year. What about the other levels? And should I have gaps between the levels?
Also, what does each part cost?
Am I going to have to consider investing 10 years+ and £10,000+ to get there?
Is it feasible for me to do this while still working full-time, or will I have to give up work and go at it full-time? (I work/learn best when I am focussing on just one thing).
I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that I might need some guidance through the whole process.
I'm sorry if these questions are blunt.

terptree said...

Hi there Dave and glad that you found the information useful :-)

Now to the training process:

Level 1: 1 year
Level 2: 1 year
NVQ Level 3: 1-2 years
NVQ Level 4 Language and Interpreting Units: 2-4 years

So I would expect that you would spend 8-10 years training to become an interpreter, as initially you are looking to become fluent in BSL and be able to converse at all levels - social through to business professional and domain specific and then there is the interpreter training.

In terms of the amount you are suggesting - again you are probably about right.

But you are entering a profession and an industry that you will love and want to stay in long into the future.

With my training - I worked and learnt at the same time initially and then gained roles where I was working with Deaf people, thereby gaining skills whilst working. So I guess the world is your oyster - you will know your training style better than anyone, so I would say trust your gut.

Kelly-Ann Wilson said...

Hi there, im finding this really difficult to understand and its stressing me out as i really want to be a BSL interpreter. Ive looked at so many websites and im just getting myself confused. I was told to register as a trainee sign language interpreter id need a degree in english or bsl and a NVQ level 4 in either english or BSL. im hearing and have basic sign language skills as my parents are deaf so ive just learnt off them as ive grew up. But reading this, it seems i dont have to have a degree in english? is that right? i have level 3 english so im planning on doing A level english next summer, as well as trying to do a level 1 and 2 in bsl at the same time. Suppose my question is, where do i go from there?

terptree said...

Hi Kelly-Anne,
We would love to help! :) could you please email interpreting@terptree.co.uk with your questions and contact details and we'll get back to you!

Look forward to hearing from you!

Robyn Smith said...

Hi i have level 1 and level 2 bsl and one year of level 3 health and social to get into preston university to do deaf studies or would i also have to do my level 3 bsl also i have some experience as i do volutary for a sign language recruitment company which provides services to deaf people and also help out in the office as well which may be useful as interpreters are freelance. I dont have any a levels i am just confused as to what to do next