Two-day conference aims to enhance interpretation and translation services in schools

Large audience in a hotel ballroomMore than 350 people from 14 states gathered in Irvine Friday for an OCDE-led conference aimed at enhancing interpretation and translation services in schools.

Hosted by the department’s Educational Services division, the two-day Interpreters and Translators Conference drew teachers, administrators, interpreters, translators, parent advocates, community liaisons and others seeking to expand access and opportunities for students and families whose primary language is not English. The event wrapped up Saturday at the Hilton Irvine Orange County Airport.

Natalia Abarca and Barry Slaughter Olsen

OCDE Project Liaison Natalia Abarca and veteran interpreter and translator Barry Slaughter Olsen kick off OCDE’s third annual Interpreters and Translators Conference in Irvine. (Photos by Paul Gibson, OCDE)

“We have worked above and beyond to bring the best quality speakers who can show us skill development, new trends, strategies, how to become better interpreters and how to do better translations,” said OCDE Project Liaison Natalia Abarca. “I really want people to walk away feeling engaged.”

The third annual conference kicked off with renowned experts, along with focused breakout sessions covering best practices, accuracy, ethics and more specialized trainings.

The keynote speaker was veteran interpreter and translator Barry Slaughter Olsen, who serves as associate professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and co-president of InterpretAmerica.

Later, Alina Avelar Roque of the Anaheim Elementary School District and Marisela Gonzalez of the Saddleback Valley Unified School District were honored with the 2019 Award of Distinction.

OCDE has worked in recent years to build a countywide infrastructure to support language services, leading trainings, an awards program and a professional network to support educators. But Abarca emphasized that there’s more work to do.

“A lot of the staff that are attending the sessions, they’ve never had an opportunity to network with each other,” she said. “They felt that they were working in isolation. So now they are feeling that they’re connected, they’re being heard and they’re being appreciated.”

For more information, visit OCDE’s Interpretation and Translation webpage.