The pivot to remote online teaching on the MA in Conference Interpreting in Cologne: Lessons learned from an unexpected experience

This paper describes and critically evaluates the new online setting encountered when the MA in Conference Interpreting at the Institute of Translation and Multilingual Communication at TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences, Cologne, was forced to move completely online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pedagogical and interactional challenges of the pivot to remote online teaching are first contextualised and discussed, before the results of a longitudinal survey of staff and students are presented and analysed. The transition to remote online teaching brought into sharp relief the fact that pedagogical concepts and lesson plans cannot simply be transposed directly from face-to-face to online teaching, particularly regarding issues around interaction between all participants. Peer-to-peer interaction was perceived to suffer most in this context. What was particularly striking about the results of the survey was that the success of remote online teaching in conference interpreting depended on small groups, individualised and personalised learning and feedback, and reliable and user-friendly technical solutions. A strengthened pedagogical focus on remote interpreting proved to be an unintended benefit of the transition.

Read the full article here or the full JoSTrans Issue 36 here.

Many, many thanks to my great co-authors Barbara Ahrens and Morven Beaton-Thome as well to the Jostrans editorial board for their invaluable support.

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

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