NTU launches new translation course

Evangelyn Stephen (left) and Martin Reed (right) are among Nanyang Technological University (NTU)’s pioneer batch of students studying for the master’s degree in translation and interpretation.

A post-graduate degree programme in translation and interpretation, aimed at raising standards and meeting rising demand for professionals in the field, will be launched at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) this evening .

The first batch of 30 students, all bilingual in Chinese and English and with experience in doing translation or interpretation, started classes for their year-long Master's in Translation and Interpretation (MTI) course a week ago.

Minister of State for Health and for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat, who chairs the National Translation Committee, will officiate at the launch of the course at NTU's Campus Clubhouse.

Professor Liu Hong, chair of NTU's school of humanities and social sciences which runs the programme, said: "We started the programme, the first of its kind in the region, to meet the increasing need for bilingual professionals proficient in Chinese and English in Singapore as well as the region.

"Also, there have been complaints that the standard of Chinese-English translation and interpretation here is lacking, and we hope the course can help rectify it."

He said response to the programme was better than expected, with 80 applications received. "We actually wanted to take only 20 to 25 students, but ended with 30 instead, 85 per cent of them Singaporeans," he added.

Programme director Helena Gao said the course is designed to provide students with a high standard of training in translation and interpretation, and equip them with knowledge that they can use in the different social, cultural and other fields of translation work.

Students have to take five core subjects, mainly to provide theoretical and research foundations, and three electives, subjects to help the students understand industry needs and tailor them to their areas of specialisation.

In addition, they are required to attend a six-week immersion programme between May and June at the Beijing Foreign Studies University in China where many Chinese diplomats, language specialists and translators and interpreters from the United Nations are trained.

Before they graduate, students must also complete a dissertation or do a course project.

Dr Gao, a trained translator before she became an academic, said the programme's teaching faculty includes guest lecturers from the National University of Singapore and the University of London as well as industry practitioners.

Miss Deng Yihan, 33, a former civil servant and now business manager of her family's packaging business, said: "I enrolled for the course because I am interested in languages and aim to be a professional translator and interpreter some day."


British engineer Martin Reed, 43, and Indian Singaporean language teacher Evangelyn Stephen, 24, stand out among the first batch of students taking the master's degree course in translation andinterpretation at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

They are the only two non-Chinese students in the class.

Dr Reed, a senior research fellow with the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore at the National University of Singapore, speaks fluent Mandarin and spent a year learning Chinese and translation in Beijing about 10 years ago.

"Iamhere for the course because I am very interested in the Chinese language and think the course will help me become a better translator or interpreter," said Dr Reed. He has a doctorate in electronic engineering from Nottingham University.

He believes the NTU programme, which places emphasis on both the theoryand practical aspects of English-Chinese translation and interpretation, would help raise professional standards here.

Equally interested in the Chinese language is Miss Stephen,who graduated from Shandong University with a bachelor's degree in journalism two years ago under a Chinese government scholarship, after her A levels at Dunman High School.

Miss Stephen's father is Indian and a retired civil servant, while her Chinese mother works as a counsellor. She said she received the scholarship after representing Singapore and winning a Chinese-language contest in Beijing organised by the Chinese government in 2008.

"It was an excellent opportunity to further my language studies in China, which I did between 2010 and 2014," said the English-and Chinese-language teacher at a private school here,who had learnt Chinese since she was in primary school.

During her undergraduate days in Shandong, she said she met many foreigners studying Chinese. "I told myself if they could master Chinese so well, I as a Singaporean should be able to do even better and so decided to be a translator or interpreter after the course at NTU."


This article was first published on Jan 22, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

Purchase this article for republication.