Teaching of Translation at the Monterey Institute of International Studies

Chie Mori

21 February 2001

I had an opportunity to study translation and interpretation at the Monterey Institute (Monterey, CA. U.S.A.) between 1998 and 2000. It was a valuable experience though the classes were extremely rigorous. I hope this simple description of the GSTI-J, MA program will be helpful.

Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS)
Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation (GSTI):
GSTI offers programs in Spanish, German, French, Russian, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese with English being a pivot language. Each applicant is given an early diagnostic test (EDT) prior to admission. EDT consists of five self-administered exams; 1) translating A language text into B language, 2) B language text into A language, 3) writing an essay in A language, 4) writing an essay in B language, and 5) summarizing an A language article into B language where "A language" is the native language and "B language" is the target language. TOEFL score of 600 or more is required.

Approximately 15-30 students enter the Japanese program each year. The ratio of native Japanese to non-native in the program is about 4-5 to 1.

Course curriculum:
MIIS offers two-year MA programs in Translation, Translation & Interpretation, and Conference Interpretation. The first semester covers general texts and the second semester covers economics texts. Sight translation is mandatory. Each student is assigned to one 150 wds section in 10 min. preparation time. The student performs sight translation in front of a class. Other students give peer critique in terms of contents, grammar and style, and pronunciation. The first year students aim to perform a written translation of 250 wds/hr or its equivalent.

At the end of the first year, students are required to take qualifying exams which consist of written (general) translation A to B, B to A, oral consecutive (general) interpretation A to B, B to A, oral simultaneous interpretation B to A. If students do not pass the first time, the second trial is given.

The third semester covers scientific and technical texts and the fourth semester covers political and legal texts. The second year students aim to perform a written translation of 300 wds/hr. In the second year, translation major completes thesis and learns how to use Trados, the computer-assisted translation tool.

At the end of the second year, MA candidates are required to take professional exams which consist of written (general) translation A to B, B to A, written (science/technology) A to B, B to A, oral consecutive interpretation (general/science/technology) A to B, B to A, and oral simultaneous interpretation B to A.

Elective courses include advanced English discourse (oral/written) that are offered to refine skills in both comprehending and producing spoken English, summarizing, paraphrasing, listening comprehension, register, etc.

Students must complete 60 units by the end of the second year. A class lecture is 2 hours with 10 minutes break. A typical student would carry 12 to 18 units per semester (about 6-8 classes), resulting in 14-16 hours of lectures per week. The size of one class is usually 6 to 14 students. Some classes are offered in the evenings, as a limited number of classrooms are available.

A translation assignment of 750-1,000 wds (or its equivalent) is given in each translation class. All assignments are asked to be turned in the following week. They are then graded by the professor, and discussed in the classroom. It is encouraged to be adventurous in our expression, but to be accurate, maintaining the atmosphere of the text. An example of grading method would be 5 points off for a meaning error, 2 points off for a grammatical error as well as stylistic problem, and 1 point off for a terminology error.

Research skills, professionalism, speed, accuracy, working in a group, etc. are focused throughout the entire program. Please visit for more information.

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