Flagship graduate Alexandra Draggeim has begun her M.A. studies in conference interpreting at ESIT (École Supérieure d’Interprètes et de Traducteurs), an interpreting school which is part of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle university. Her working languages are English, Russian, Chinese, and French. Located in the historical former NATO headquarters in Paris, ESIT is one of the oldest centers of interpreting studies: founded in 1957, it offers degrees in conference interpreting, sign language interpreting, translation and translation research.
Alexandra was admitted to ESIT with sixteen other students out of a pool of about three hundred applicants following written and oral exams. She was also admitted into the conference interpreting program at Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) with an English and Chinese language combination but chose to attend ESIT because of the opportunity to include Russian in her language combination. Alexandra is currently on leave from the Ohio State pedagogy Ph.D. program.
Alexandra is taking courses in interpreting, taught by working conference interpreters, as well as general courses designed to provide future interpreters with key theoretical and cultural concepts. The latter are taught in French and include translation theory, discourse analysis, economics, and geopolitics. The bulk of the work at ESIT, however, takes place in small group practice sessions, in which students are expected to practice for about 15 hours every week.
Central to ESIT’s philosophy is the “interpretive theory of translation,” in which “translation” refers to both written and oral translation. The theory’s emphasis on meaning and de-verbalization echoes the central ideas of the performed culture approach at Ohio State, which stresses context and authenticity in language teaching. Similarly, students at ESIT learn that an interpreter’s goal is not to translate the words he or she hears, but rather to convey the speaker’s meaning and intention in a contextually appropriate way.
Most graduates of the ESIT conference interpreting program work in European institutions, international organizations, and on the private market. Alexandra hopes to work as a conference interpreter and also to draw on her background in language pedagogy and interpreting studies to teach interpreting.