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Renée Jourdenais
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Renée Jourdenais

Dean, Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Eucation (GSTILE)
Middlebury Institute of Internation Studies at Monterey

Translators, Interpreters, and Applied Linguists: What Do We Have in Common?


In recent years, business, government and education sectors have been showing a growing interest in translation and interpretation as a profession, driven by national and international needs for globalized businesses, products, and a recognition that using qualified translators and interpreters makes a difference in ensuring successful communication. 

At the same time, however, language studies programs are at a critical juncture in the United States, with fewer students studying languages, yet greater articulated needs from government and industry for competent multilingual professionals. As many US-based language programs are striving to identify professional opportunities for their students, the fields of translation and interpretation (T&I) can provide a wealth of career possibilities and a number of educational institutions are now offering programs focused on building these skills.

While we, in the applied linguistics community, are relatively well-versed in what contributes to good language learning, there is far less information available to us as to what contributes to building the high levels of language and linguistic processing skills that translators and interpreters need in order to be successful in their language profession. Research on T&I is a relatively nascent, but very much growing, field – and its developing in ways which parallel the interests and explorations we see in applied linguistics – yet there is very little interaction between the two communities and collaboration would undoubtedly lead to increased knowledge for both.

A brief review of the skills involved in translating and interpreting and corresponding research areas quickly identify shared interests in cognitive, social, and linguistic domains, including the following:  attention, memory, processing, language influence, anxiety, age, bilingualism, heritage learners, language attitudes, language varieties, assessment, sociocultural theory, conversation analysis, corpus studies, issues of language access, power, genre, and situatedness… to name just a few.


Dr. Renée Jourdenais is the dean of the Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education (GSTILE) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). She received her MA in French Literature from the University of Florida, and later her PhD in Applied Linguistics from Georgetown University.  While in DC, she worked for the Center for Applied Linguistics as a language test developer.

In 1998, Dr. Jourdenais joined the TESOL/TFL faculty at MIIS as an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, a position she held until her appointment as Dean in 2007. As Dean, she oversees the Institute’s MA programs in Translation, in Translation & Localization Management, in Conference Interpretation, in Translation & Interpretation, in Teaching Foreign Language, and in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).  She also administers the Institute’s Language and Intercultural Studies programs, which prepare the Institute’s graduate students in International Policy and Management to successfully communicate in the multilingual and multicultural settings of their international careers.

Dr. Jourdenais has done extensive consulting work, both in the US and overseas, in the areas of curriculum development, language assessment, medical interpreter assessment, and teacher training.  Her research interests focus on cognitive processing and attention in language acquisition and use. Pedagogically, she’s interested in ensuring that language instruction meets real-world needs. She has published on attention and noticing, content-based language instruction, and teacher development. She is also the co-editor of the new Routledge Handbook of Interpreting.

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