Reading skills for sight translation in public sector services


  • Anne Birgitta Nilsen Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
  • May-Britt Monsrud Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences


public sector service interpreting, dialogue interpreting, sight translation, reading skills


Interpreters in public-sector services in Norway report that they sight translate almost every day; a mode of translation that requires well-developed reading skills. Nevertheless, in interpreter training programs and assessments, reading skills seem so far to have been taken for granted. In this article we discuss reading skills for sight translation and suggest a way of testing these skills. Furthermore, we argue that there is a need to rethink assessments and educational programmes based on an assumption of skills in reading. We base our arguments on a study of public-sector interpreters’ reading speeds in Norwegian. The results show that 70% of the interpreters tested did not have sufficient skills in one central component of reading, namely decoding; that there is vast variation in skills; and that decoding speed varies according to the interpreters’ linguistic backgrounds. Our results are a strong indication of a specific need for training in reading skills amongst many public-sector interpreters.