Translation and Interpretation Major: Spanish-English

The closely related fields of translation and interpretation are becoming increasingly important in today's society. With the growing importance of Spanish, the need for qualified interpreters and translators continues to rise. The translation and interpretation program at Northwestern College has been developed to equip you with the necessary knowledge, tools and abilities to become a competent interpreter and translator.

Successful professional interpreters and translators have a wide range knowledge in many subject areas. As such, a liberal arts education is key to future success in the field, and as an interpretation and translation major, you are encouraged to take additional courses in different subject areas. Furthermore, the seven specific courses in translation and interpretation are designed to give you the necessary theoretical platform for successful translation and interpretation. As you advance through the program, you will learn to apply the theoretical principles as well as the knowledge acquired in other liberal arts courses in order to achieve superior translation and interpretation outcomes.

The translation and interpretation program is intended for incoming bilingual students and requires a minimum of seven semesters to complete. (Those students who are seeking to improve their knowledge of Spanish should enroll in the regular Spanish major.) During the earlier courses in the program, the focus will be on translating and interpreting from your B language into your A language; however, as you progress through the program, there will be increasing emphasis on working from the A language into the B language as well. Courses focus on a wide range of subject areas and include a strong emphasis on service learning--thereby providing you with real-world experience--as well as with an ongoing focus on moral, ethical and Christian considerations for interpreters and translators.

Not only is Northwestern's program one of just a handful at the baccalaureate level in the United States, but the college has also invested in the necessary training resources for its students. Translation and interpretation majors have a dedicated interpreting laboratory with 13 soundproof booths, an interpreting booth as part of the college's main venue for many public events, and portable equipment. In the final year of the program, you will participate in a practicum experience in which you will be in the community as a professional interpreter and translator. Not only will you provide an important service to the community, but you will also acquire valuable experience and apply what was learned in the classroom. The practicum is the final step of the Northwestern program before you begin a career in interpretation and translation or proceed to graduate study in the field.

Student Learning Goals:

Upon successfully attaining a B.A. in translation and interpretation, you will:

  1. Be able to translate general written documents from your B language into your A language at a quality level that would be acceptable at a professional level without additional major revisions or editing.
  2. Be able to translate general written documents from your A language into your B language at a quality level that would be acceptable at a professional level with a limited amount of additional revision or editing.
  3. Be able to interpret consecutively from your B language into your A language for a general speaker of that language for segments of up to one minute without major meaning errors or major omissions.
  4. Be able to interpret simultaneously from your B language into your A language for a general speaker of that language without major meaning errors or major omissions.
  5. Understand the theoretical principles of translation and interpretation and be able to apply them in your translation and interpretation and thereby attain goals #1 and #2.
  6. Be able to sight-translate general documents from your B language into your A language.
  7. Have developed lifelong learning habits that include reading a wide array of materials in both languages from many different disciplines.
  8. Understand and be able to apply the moral and ethical considerations for translators and interpreters, as well as your role as a Christian in these fields.
  9. Be able to handle and present yourself as a professional translator and interpreter, as well as react in a professional way to demanding and uncomfortable situations and translation and interpretation assignments.

Spanish department homepage


SPA 202 - Intermediate Spanish Language and Culture
Combined study of intermediate language and culture. Study of primary sources in print, audio and visual forms to develop appreciation for the ways culture in general and the language's culture in particular shape a variety of social contexts. Building on previously acquired ability in Spanish, continued study of language in a communicative context with considerable emphasis upon precision and expansion of linguistic skills.Prerequisite: SPA201, or placement by the foreign language placement exam.(3 credits)
SPA 312WI - Advanced Grammar and Composition
(3 credits)(Writing intensive) Advanced development of writing skills anda review of difficult grammar concepts. Students will be expected towrite in a variety of contexts. Emphasis will be on the writing process.The majority of the assignments will be completed in steps includingmultiple drafts. Additionally, students will be expected to reviewgrammar and complete some grammar exercises.Note: Taught in Spanish.Prerequisite: SPA 202 or equivalent proficiency.
SPA 326 - Spanish Phonetics
An in-depth study of Spanish phonetics. Topics include techniques and rules of Spanish articulation, analysis of the sounds of vowels and consonants in Spanish and their differences from English pronunciation, syllabication, rhythm, stress, pitch and intonation. Prerequisites: SPA202 and one 3-credit 300-level course. (3 credits, alternate years, consult department)
SPA 327 - Hispanics in the United States
A wide-ranging study of the current situation of Hispanics in the United States. After an historical overview, a thematic approach will be taken to better understand the role of Hispanics in the United States and their growing influence. Possible topics include demographics, voting tendencies, purchasing power, Hispanic media, religion, labor laws, immigration, Spanglish and bilingualism, among others. Using interviews and research, the course will conclude with a study of our Hispanic neighbors here in northwest Iowa.Prerequisites: SPA202 and one 3-credit 300-level course.(3 credits, alternate years, consult department)
SPA 331 - Introduction to Translation and Interpreting
SPA 332 - Interpreting I
SPA 333 - Interpreting II
SPA 334 - Interpreting III
SPA 336 - Translation I
SPA 337 - Translation II
SPA 338 - Translation III
Choose one course: 2 credits
SPA 345 - Practicum in Translation and Interpreting
SPA 417 - Internship
(2 credits may apply toward the major or minor)

Cognate requirements:

ENG 345 - Linguistic Perspectives on English
Where did our language come from? How did English get the biggest vocabulary of any modern language? How are the words joust, yoke, and yoga related? Why is English spelling so irregular? Are there bad words? This course traces the 1500 year development of our language, from the Germanic tongue of Beowulf to the Frenchified language of Chaucer, to the many varieties of modern English spoken around the world.(4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
Choose one course: 4 credits
PSC 225 - Introduction to Law
This course briefly surveys the landscape of the American legal system. Most of the course, however, is devoted to examining significant constitutional issues, such as government powers, civil rights and civil liberties. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department) (American politics)
SOC 220 - The Criminal Justice System

Total credits required: 43

Note: Internships range from 2-12 credits. The maximum credits applied to the major is noted under the 417 course designation.