Course Title: Discourse Studies for Interpreters

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2011

Course Code: LANG5396

Course Title: Discourse Studies for Interpreters

School: 365T Global Studies, Soc Sci & Plng

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6067 - Advanced Diploma of Translating and Interpreting

Course Contact : Brad Paez

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 99250362

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Mr. Brad Paez
Telephone 99250326

Nominal Hours: 80

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

Delivered together with Context and Practice of Interpreting 2.

Course Description

This course is designed to develop students’ practical listening, speaking and oral reproduction skills, and to introduce the lexicon and phraseology of various professional discourses.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VBN932 Discourse Studies for Interpreters

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate an ability to identify features of spoken language, and proficiency in a number of listening, speaking and oral reproduction exercises relevant to the interpreting process.  These will include exhibiting effective speaking skills in relation to the production of short texts; paying particular attention to intonation and cohesive devices appropriate to oral texts; exhibiting effective listening, speaking and oral skills in relation to the comprehension and accurate summarising of short oral texts; and exhibiting effective listening, speaking and oral skills in relation to the comprehension and accurate reporduction in full of short oral texts.

Details of Learning Activities

In classroom situations, you will develop the skills and knowledge to deal with professional discourses relevant to professional interpreting, including the following: 

  • Structuring a short address / presentation to accepted conventions of such discourse using register, collocation and idiom appropriate to the topic / setting of the discourse.
  • Showing how persuasive language can be used to influence an audience by analysing short oral presentations for features such as: voice stress and pitch, use of rhetorical questions, statistics, expert opinion, and precedents.
  • Demonstrating the ability to recognize a range of sound variations of speech (such as elision, syllabic stress, assimilation), sounds and patterns of speech rhythm common to fields of discourse in Australian professional contexts. 
  • Analysing sample phrases and short text segments using auditory input and short term memory in order to produce oral summaries of meaning. 
  • Demonstrating adequate standards of oral message delivery appropriate for the role of the speaker with acceptable register, sentence rhythm, word intonation, pronunciation and syllable stress. 
  • Comprehending the implication of commonly used tonal patterns and fixed expressions in Australian English in professional contexts such as courts, police, education, hospitals, etc. 
  • Identifying and reproducing appropriate paralinguistic features appropriate to setting and medium of communication, focusing on appropriate adjustment in voice control. 
  • Using appropriate cohesive and stylistic devices (lexis, syntax, collocation, idiom, etc.), as tools to ‘chunk’ meaning into oral texts. 
  • Comprehending the meaning of short oral texts of approximately 300 words in professional discourses relevant to professional interpreting. 
  • Producing oral sight translations and consecutive interpretation of speeches including key points contained in common instrumental written forms and public information documents, demonstrating knowledge of the field of discourse and role relationships by the appropriate use of register, vocabulary, collocation, intonation and stress.  .

80 nominal hours consists of :

  •  2 hours x 16 weeks = 32 hours face-to-face class instruction
  •  1 hour x 16 weeks = 16 hours pre-class preparation, post class consolidation on teaching materials as directed by teacher
  • 20 hours for preparing and completing Learning Outcome 1
  •  4 hours for preparing and completing Learning Outcome 2
  •  8 hours for preparing and completing Learning Outcome 3

Teaching Schedule

Week No.

Recommended Contextual Areas for Interpreting Class in conjuction with Discourse Studies for Interpreters
Week 1Introduction of the Course
Week 2Welfare / Social Issues / Education
Week 3Welfare / Social Issues / Education
Week 4Health / Medical
Week 5Health / Medical
Week 6Immigration
Week 7Immigration
Week 8Environment / Science / Technology
 Mid semester break
Week 9Environment / Science / Technology
Week 10Australian Issues / Politics / Industrial Relations
 Week 11Australian Issues / Politics / Industrial Relations
Week 12International Issues
Week 13Business / Trade / Finance / Insurance
Week 14Business / Trade / Finance / Insurance
Week 15Law
Week 16Law
Week 17Exam Period Commences
Week 18Exam Period

Lesson Plans
Week 1 Intro to course; listening for sound and meaning. Controlling sound and meaning production Week 1 Reading from Halliday: Spoken language: prosodic features
Week 2 Contextual understanding of discourse: Field, Tenor and Mode Week 2 Reading from Critical Link 5 Conference on “signposts”
Week 3 Recognising spoken text meaning as it used in real situations: Austin’s Speech Act Theory.
Gile’s Effort Model, and adjusting discourse processing Week 3 Reading on Gile’s Effort Model (handout) and Working with Texts pages 198-200 on speech events .
Week 4 Checklisting Practising Listening and Production: conversation and phone discourse Week 4 Commence LO1 Blackboard discussion and responses LO1. Reading from Working with Texts pages 201-213.
Week 5 Checklisting Practising Listening and Production: formal dialogue Week 5 Continue LO1. Reading from Working with Texts pages 220-221.
Week 6 Checklisting Practising Listening and Production: formal speeches Week 6 Continue LO1. Reading from Working with Texts pages 220-221.
Week 7 Checklisting Practising Listening and Production: sight translating. Techniques transforming written text to verbal discourse.
Week 7 Continue LO1. Reading form teacher’s thesis on sight translation. Practice texts for recall and production on Blackboard
Week 8 Methods to improve memory retention: using notes and mind maps effectively in different contexts Week 8 Continue LO1. Reading form teacher’s thesis on sight translation. Practice texts for recall and production on Blackboard
Week 9 The Imperative of Deverbalisation and Reformulation in Message reproduction Week 9 Continue LO1. Reading to be provided from various published works by Lederer. Practice texts for recall and production on Blackboard
Week 10 Dynamics of discourse and managing communication. Class practice. Week 10 Continue LO1. Reading from 6th Discourse Analysis Symposium – Monash University. Practice texts for recall and production on Blackboard
Week 11 Pragmatics of Spoken Discourse: how to cope with the unexpected situation Week 11 Continue LO1. Reading from Chapter 3 “Discourse and Pragmatics” in Discourse Analysis. Practice texts for recall and production on Blackboard
Week 12 [Mid-semester break – no lesson] Week 12 Continue LO1. Revise theory from weeks 1-11 for LO2
Week 13 Class practice on multiple choice questions Week 13 Last week for LO1. Revise theory for LO2. Topic of speech for LO3 announced.
Week 14 Class practice on speeches and small group feedback Week 14 LO2 (time to be advised).
Week 15 Class practice on speeches and small group feedback Week 15 LO3 to be completed via Blackboard (day and time to be announced)
Week 16 Applying Analysis and Reproduction in LOTE: plenary session questions Week 16 Individual feedback as required by appointment. Practice texts for recall and production on Blackboard in LOTE
Week 17 Video communication, mobile communications and change to communication and discourse Week 17 Practice texts for recall and production on Blackboard
Week 18 [Exam period] Week 18 [Exam preparation – no lesson]

Note: This schedule may be changed by the teacher to accord with class progress and unforeseen circumstances

Teacher may adjust the topic of the week or the amount of time covering certain topic areas based on student needs.

Face to face class instruction : 2 hours x 16 weeks = 32 hours

Pre-class preparation, post class consolidation on teaching materials as directed by teacher: 1 x 16 weeks = 16 hours

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


Paltridge, B. (2006) Discourse Analysis, London & New York: Continuum International Publishing Group


Working with Texts - A core introduction to language analysis (2009), Oxon and New York: Routledge


Other Resources

Learning Resources

Learning materials and NAATI Professional standard practice texts will largely be generated by the teacher.  Teacher will instruct students to access multimedia resources posted on Blackboard to gain essential background information, and may present students with guides and checklists to assist performance in Learning Outcomes.  This material must be viewed and read as required by the teacher.   


The Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) is RMIT’s core e-learning tool.  It provides a variety of online learning resources and communication tools including:

  • a centralised area to upload and manage course content and practice materials
  • tools creating course content in the Blackboard environment
  • test (quizzes) and surveys
  • assignment submission tools
  • group work spaces

Digital Recording Devices

Students are requried to prepare their own digital recording device to be used in this course.

Overview of Assessment

Three Learning Outcome tasks.

Assessment Tasks

Learning Outcome 1 Threaded Peer Discussion and Peer Review via Blackboard Discussion Board(40%; conducted progressively from week 3 to week 12)

Time required to prepare and complete this learning outcome: 2 hours x 10 weeks = 20 hours

Part 1: Each week students are to reflect on work they are doing in both Context and Practice of Interpreting and Discourse Studies for Interpreters classes. Based on the topic area covered in the interpreting class in the week, students should access the Contextual Knowledge Resources under the C6067 Advanced Diploma of Translating and Interpreting program shell on Blackboard or other online audio/video materials in the same topic area, and write a commentary of no more than 100 words in English on issues and challenges pertaining to what is covered in the Discourse Studies class of that week.  The commentary will have a focus on spoken discourse in issues such as difficulties in hearing certain sounds, speed of speech delivery, rhythm and intonation, pauses, articulation, syllable stress, etc., depending on what is covered in the week.  When writing students should reflect on theory or models as much as possible, and write in complete and grammatically correct sentences.  Each weekly posting must be done no later than 24.00 (midnight) on Sunday of the week.  Each weekly posting is worth 3 marks.  Late postings will attract a penalty of 1.5 marks. 

Part 2: Each week students should read postings done by other classmates and comment on/provide own experience or suggested solutions to one of the postings of their choice in no more than 50 words in English.  This response must be written in complete and grammatically correct sentences, and the writing must be constructive, courteous and non-confrontational.  Each weekly response is worth 2 marks.  Late responses will attract a penalty of 1 mark.

The teacher will be the moderator of this activity and may answer or post questions from time to time for further discussion or learning.  Posting and reading on the discussion board should take up to 2 hours per week.

Learning Outcome 2  Quiz via Blackboard (30%; conducted in week 12 or otherwise adivsed by teacher )

Time required to prepare and complete this learning outcome: 4 hours

The quiz contains 10 questions based on class learning on linguistic and textual aspects of oral discourse, each worth 3 marks.  Teacher will advise the exact date(s) for students to access the quiz on Blackboard as well as how much time is allowed.  Students should observe the time limit stipulated (Blackboard records the time you spend on the quiz) and students must not answer each questions more than once.

Learning Outcome 3 Analysing, recalling and reproducing source messages (30%; conducted in week 14 or otherwise advised by teacher)

Time required to prepare and complete this learning outcome: 8 hours

A speech in English (in NAATI consecutive interpreting format) will be made available on Blackboard on a specific date advised by teacher for students to access.  The topic of the speech will be provided 2 weeks before the test for students to do research.  On the test day students should access the speech on Blackboard and listen to the speech recorded in two 150-word segments once.  Immediately after listening to each 150-word segment students are required reproduce the speech in their own words in English and record it using student’s own digital recording device (digital recorder, mobile phone etc.) with clear auditory (sound) quality.  Students need to demonstrate a cohesive and appropriate delivery with correct tone, speed and clarity (15 marks) and integrity of meaning and content (15 marks). Student must submit the recording by uploading it to Blackboard for the teacher to mark and provide feedback.

Assessment Matrix

Other Information


What do I do if I need help in this course?’
You are advised to contact your teacher as soon as any difficulties arise. The Course Coordinator is available for academic advice and support. Once the issue has been identified, the Program Coordinator, in consultation with your teacher and yourself, will put in place an individual study plan. This might include supplementary assessment, consultation during the conduct of assessment or granting an extension. Where these measures are inadequate, the Program Coordinator may refer you to University student support services such as student counselling or the Learning Skills Unit.

How can I have my relevant previous study or work/life experience assessed as a way of gaining credit in this course?
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) means recognition of competencies currently held, regardless of how, when or where the learning occurred. This includes any combination of formal or informal training and education, work experience or general life experience.
For RPL to be granted, the applicant must provide evidence that he/she:
• has attained the competencies described in the modules that are being claimed
• possess current competency in the modules that are being claimed, including underpinning skills and knowledge
• has applied the relevant modules in a context that is applicable to this qualification.
Contact the Course Coordinator for further advice about applying for RPL and suitable evidence requirements.

What are my responsibilities in undertaking this course?
All students are expected to attend classes regularly and complete all set learning and assessment tasks. You are encouraged to seek support in relation to any difficulties you may have at the program level via the Program Coordinator. Students are expected to act as professionals in the learning environment, a critical capability expected of graduates in their employment.

Special Consideration
You may apply for Special Consideration by using the RMIT Application Form for Special Consideration, which is available from RMIT website. The application, with relevant documentation, must be lodged with the Student Hub prior to or within 48 hours of the commencement of the assessment task in question. Applications for special consideration are considered by the expert panel convened by the Academic Registrar (or nominee).

You are reminded that cheating, whether by fabrication, falsification of data, or plagiarism, is an offence subject to University disciplinary procedures. Plagiarism in oral, written or visual presentations is the presentation of the work, idea, or creation of another person, without appropriate referencing as though it is one’s own. Plagiarism is not acceptable. The use of another person’s work or ideas must be acknowledged. Failure to do so may result in charges of academic misconduct, which carry a range of penalties including cancellation of result and exclusion from your course.
You are responsible for ensuring that your work is kept in a secure place. It is also a disciplinary offence for you to allow their work to be plagiarised by another student. You should be aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding the use of copyright material.


How can I let my teacher know about my experience of this course?
You may discuss this with your teacher at a mutually convenient time. The School distributes confidential course assessment forms at the end of each semester for students to complete. These are analysed and action is taken to remedy defects in teaching or course administration as required. The College also conducts student experience and satisfaction surveys during the semester.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview