Course Title: Discourse Studies for Interpreters

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2010

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

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. 
  • Publicly demonstrating in class adequate standards of public speaking 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. 
  • Taking notes while listening. 
  • Identifying and reproducing orally the main points of the text in summary form, demonstrating knowledge of the field of discourse and role relationships by the appropriate use of register, vocabulary, collocation, intonation and stress. 
  • Comprehending the meaning of short dialogues in professional discourses relevant to professional interpreting.

You will also need to devote at least 2 hours per week of your own time on assignments aimed at listening to a number of oral speeches available on various website sound files, or recorded from live radio or television and provide summaries of the content to the class.

Teaching Schedule

Week No.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
 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

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

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


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


Other Resources

Learning Resources

Learning materials will largely be generated by the teacher.  Teacher will also instruct students to access other written, audio and/or video materials from the press, internet, TV or radio programs.


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

Studenst 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  (40%; conducted in week 7, or otherwise instructed by teacher)
An oral comprehension task in front of the class or in a language lab setting. You will listen to a short oral text, taking notes and then answer 5 questions orally concerning the content of the text. This evaluates memory and comprehension skills: 

  • Your answers must be in complete and cohesive sentences and must demonstrate correct syntax, rhythm and stress, as well as paralinguistic style appropriate to the topic being discussed.

Learning Outcome 2 (40%; conducted in week 14, or otherwise instructed by teacher)
A five minute oral public speaking presentation on a topic provided by teacher in class This will be done by different students each week. Achievement of this learning outcome will require you to: 

  • Organise the speech beforehand in class over 15 minutes ensuring the structure of the speech has a clear theme and pattern 
  • Assume the role of the speaker and act out the role in the way the speech is expressed 
  • Project your voice and modify tone, speed and volume of delivery as appropriate 
  • Your role play must be as authentic as possible, maintaining the cohesion/logic, meaning, intonation, registers etc that would be used by the speaker in the scenario as given by the teacher

Learning Outcome 3 (20%; ongoing throughout the semester)
Weekly shadowing exercises. In order to practise mirroring the expression commonly used in particular contexts students are to access websites or DVDs/CDs to listen to several speeches/dialogues during the week. Of these, the student will present a verbal summary of the content of at least one of the oral discourses listened to. The summary should be clear and concise lasting 2 minutes. The 2 minute oral summary will be assessed for language and communication quality and clarity of theme.
The sources of all verbal discourses listened to during the week are to be recorded and presented to the class teacher weekly as evidence of completing the listening practice outside of class time.. New vocabulary (with LOTE or English explanation) should be included with the listening recording sheet.

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 ProgramCoordinator. 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