Hello, and welcome to my first blog post of 2024! I am hoping to dive into a variety of topics in this space this year, such as Spanish medical translation, Spanish medical interpretation, and multilingual desktop publishing (DTP). So stay tuned!
Today I will be reviewing a new app for interpreters: Terp.
Terp is a web-based interpretation simulator application founded in 2022 by my fellow Kent State translation program alumni Devin Gilbert, a Utah-based translation educator and researcher. As per my communication with him, it took him a year and a half to write all the code. And let me tell you, he has done a fabulous job. This app is a real game-changer in the realm of interpretation practice resources.
The app runs you through a simulated interpretation session in a variety of settings. As of this writing, there are currently 11 different practice dialogues available in the domains of education, legal, medical, mental health, and refugee. Each scenario clearly spells out the participants of the conversation as well as each participant’s native language and dialect.
Where Terp really shines is its sleek, intuitive interface that somewhat resembles a text message conversation. There are three modes: Practice Mode, Role-Play Mode, and Review Mode. Role-Play Mode is meant for group practice, so I will not be discussing it.
During Practice Mode, the interpreter scrolls down through the interface while listening to (and interpreting) each of the audio files of the different participants’ speech, in order, which are visually represented (although not transcribed) by bubbles on either side of the screen. The audio files are triggered by clicking on the corresponding bubble or using a convenient keyboard shortcut. Unlike other Spanish medical interpretation practice tools (CDs, YouTube videos, etc.), there is no need to rewind the audio if you stumble since the interface makes it very clear to locate where you are in the session. This makes for a much less frustrating and more streamlined practice experience.
Interpreters are encouraged to record their practice sessions in Practice Mode by using their preferred recording tool (no record feature is included in the app itself). Then, during Review Mode, the interpreter has access to suggested interpretations, both in audio and text format. The idea is to compare the recording taken during Practice Mode with the suggested interpretations.
Then, at the end, there is a nice little wrap-up section where the interpreter has the option of giving themself a rating with hilarious, informal, subjective ratings ranging from “Hi-Ya,” the worst, “Ight,” the middle ground, and “Majestic,” the best. A field is also provided for the interpreter to leave any comments about their performance.
Without further ado, here are my pros and cons for Terp.
The different scenarios and dialects included in the app reflect the different scenarios and dialects a professional Spanish interpreter will come across in real life. All too often, regionalisms and more colloquial language in general are avoided in Spanish educational materials at the cost of trying to teach Spanish learners a “universal” or “neutral” Spanish. This is perhaps one of the biggest shortcomings of how Spanish is taught in schools in the US (but that’s a blog post for another day). This is not the case here, thankfully.
As suggested earlier, I have been thoroughly impressed with this app’s UI. This is the future of interpretation practice. I hope Devin has filed a patent for this simple yet effective idea. The interface is clean and free of distractions. It’s wonderful that there are no ads, which makes for productive practice sessions. I also love the default dark mode, the playful color scheme, and the overall “retro” aesthetic.
The conversations have been put together thoughtfully and professionally. The dialogues are written by professional intepreters and then recorded and mixed by a professional audio engineer, resulting in believable scenarios and excellent sound quality.
Perhaps one of the most creative features of the app is the “ethical dilemma.” These happen when something doesn’t exactly go according to plan, as is the case in the real world. The interpreter is given the choice of what to do in a given difficult situation: usually whether to interpret or not, which then determines the outcome of the session.
This is a brand-spanking new product. As so, it has yet to reach its full potential. With Spanish being the most spoken “foreign” language in the US, it makes sense to start there. I anticipate that, as Terp continues to grow, more language combinations will be supported.
I would also love to see the app localized into other languages. In fact, localizing it into Spanish seems very doable at the moment.
This is not a genuine complaint, because, once again, this is a brand-new product. As of this writing, there are 11 available scenarios. Devin and his team are currently working to get a new scenario uploaded every week. So I am sure that in no time, there will be many more scenarios available.
Terp is a great accomplishment in the field of Spanish medical interpretation that Devin and his team should have every reason to be proud of. I am excited to watch it grow and to continue using it to practice interpretation. The development team is comprised entirely of professional interpreters and the audio files are professionally mixed by audio engineers, so you know you’re getting a premium product that’s worth the small subscription fee.
I hope this blog post has encouraged you to give Terp a try for practicing Spanish medical interpretation! Thanks for reading and feel free to leave me a comment or share with a friend or colleague if you enjoyed this post.