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Abstract

Learning to become an interpreter is a hands-on and interactive experience. Students entering an interpreting program have a wide variety of language skill levels and backgrounds. In the context of American Sign Language (ASL)/English interpreter education, some students arrive at an interpreting program with no knowledge of ASL, whereas others have more experience and some proficiency with the language. Even though some of the students may be familiar with ASL, the process of interpreting is often a new skill set. As students learn how to interpret through hands-on practice, they follow a 4-mode learning cycle that is based on their experiences. D.A. Kolb (1984) developed the experiential learning theory (ELT), which is grounded in the experiences of the learner. This article focuses on how interpreting students learn, using the experiential learning cycle. Although this commentary is directed at students, the learning cycle can be applied to mentoring programs, and working interpreters can use it for life-long learning.

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