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Abstract

This article utilizes two popular theories of adult learning as analytical lenses to evaluate the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) process of accrediting British Sign Language (BSL)/English interpreters in the United Kingdom. Although an NVQ is an assessment, learning opportunities are inherent in the assessment process and in the training which typically precedes it. Behaviorist and constructivist theoretical orientations are applied in this analysis as both are applicable and relevant to the NVQ process. The Level 6 NVQ Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting framework exemplifies a behaviorist orientation, although it also blends in elements of constructivism. It is suggested that training which further incorporates constructivist learning opportunities be made a requirement as this may prove beneficial for a more holistic approach to interpreter qualification via the NVQ pathway. This analytical exploration is relevant to interpreter educators and researchers in other countries and other language combinations because, although interpreting has been traditionally viewed as a technical, skills-based profession, thereby lending itself well to a behaviorist learning orientation, it has also been identified as a practice profession (Dean & Pollard, 2005) where determinations for the work product are imbued with situational nuance, a reality to which a constructivist approach is particularly well suited.

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