Interpreting in the Language Classroom: Effects of Chinese-to-English Interpreting Strategy Training on EFL Undergraduates' Oral Proficiency

Yinyin Wu, Posen Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Conditioned by cognitive and temporal constraints and interpreting norms, interpreters adopt strategies to solve problems, prevent problems, and enhance communicative effectiveness. Interpreters’ resourcefulness and efficiency in achieving communicative goals may be what language learners can learn from. This study examines the effects of Chinese-to-English interpreting strategy training on Taiwan EFL (English as a foreign language) undergraduates’ oral proficiency. A quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design and qualitative data collection methods were employed. Sixty-seven high-intermediate to advanced learners were assigned to an experimental group (EG, n = 43) and a control group (CG, n = 24). The EG received a 12-week interpreting training consisting of strategy instruction, six-step oral training, and speaking assignments. The CG received no strategy instruction but comparable oral training and speaking assignments. Statistical analysis of the mean scores and detailed aspects of the pretest and posttest was conducted. Between-group comparisons showed that interpreting strategy training led to significant improvement of the EG’s fluency in descriptive/narrative task types. Furthermore, the EG saw far more extensive within-group improvements than the CG, which might have something to do with the interpreting strategy training. Qualitative analysis of the EG participants’ written reflections on Worksheets and focus group interviews with lower-and higher-level speakers revealed that three major factors limited the application of interpreting strategies to English speaking: one’s natural tendency to use strategies, the elusive nature of our thinking, and the extent to which Chinese appears in one’s mind when speaking English. However, the participants also believed that the training enhanced their resourcefulness, accelerated their application of strategies, expanded their strategy repertoire, and induced an interlocutor-oriented mindset. Interpreting strategy training from the learners’ mother tongue into English can be a practical addition to a conventional English speaking class, and will be filled with diversity and challenges as well as fun.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-126
Number of pages50
JournalCompilation and Translation Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Chinese-to-English interpreting
  • instruction in interpreting strategies
  • teaching methods and materials for English oral training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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