CHICATA Conference

Professor Cyril Flerov is invited to speak at the Twenty-Sixth Chicago Conference  On Translation and Interpretation on May 2. The main theme will be professional development and voice training for interpreters.
Conference Information:
May 2, 2015, 8.30 am–4.40 pm
The Talbott Hotel
20 East Delaware Place
Chicago, Illinois, 60611

Click on the link below to see the conference announcement and agenda:

Spring Break Trip to East Asia: Putting Interpreters’ Skills to Real Test

Over spring break, three 2nd year interpreters accompanied an IPS class’ trip to Tokyo and Beijing. One of the students, Lan Li, submitted the following report of the trip:


I traveled to Tokyo and Beijing with the “East Asia: Foreign Policy, Trade and Security” class, co-lead by MIIS faculty Professor Tsuneo Akaha and Professor Wei Liang, and accompanied by my two colleagues Hirofumi Jinno (MATI ’15) and Lisa Huang (MACI ’15).

East Asian Seminar group

Tokyo Uni_Lan Li

Two reasons motivated me to join the trip. As a Chinese native, the bizarre relationship between Beijing and Tokyo intrigues me: I was an eye-witness to the 2012 anti-Japanese vandalism; but as an avid animation lover, I also have a personal understanding of the huge presence of Japanese culture. These mixed feelings and experiences compelled me to go there and see for myself. The comparative learning opportunity presented itself as the best way to look at the China-Japan relationship through an academic lens, free of political tirades and media rhetoric. On top of that, as I am about to finish a two-year degree in Conference Interpretation, and I decided that it was time to put my skills to test after many hours of practice in the booth.

Hirofumi Jinno MATI2715 at work

The trip enhanced my learning experience at MIIS in three ways. First, it consolidated my interpretation skills. During our four days, Lisha and I, equipped with portable devices thanks to GSTILE’s generous support, provided whispering, consecutive and simultaneous interpretation totaling 8 solid hours. It pushed me to my limit, yet introduced me to a range of the most relevant topics in East Asia. I received feedback from my six dependent audience members and built up my stamina. When in Tokyo, I also had the opportunity to watch and learn from my Japanese colleague, Hirofumi Jinno while he worked—it was very interesting to observe how culture shapes the codes of interpreters. Second, the trip as well as the seminar have also deepened my understanding of regional affairs. In order to familiarize myself with the topics prior to the trip, I took the class with two IPS credits, finished the reading and put together a glossary for each topic. Thanks to the broad connections of Professors Akaha and Liang, we were received by policy-makers (e.g. the Director of the International Trade Research Institute, MOFCOM) and scholars (Peking University, Renmin University and my alma mater Beijing Foreign Studies University) who I had never thought of interpreting for as a novice interpreter. The interpretation assignments covered a broad range of the most up-to-date topics including politics (US pivot towards Asia, Chinese and Japanese foreign policymaking, China and Japan’s perception of each other, of Korea and of ASEAN, China’s soft power), security (disputed islands in South China Sea and East China Sea, US-Japan alliance), trade and economics (Japanese companies and investment in China, China’s economic diplomacy and FTA negotiations in East Asia) and history (the fundamental issues in China-Japan relationship). Third, the trip came with an unexpected networking bonanza. We were invited to a grand MIIS Gathering in BJ 2015reunion of MIIS graduates in Beijing hosted by Kai Zhang (TESL’10). Several GSTILE graduates who now work as full-time interpreters kindly shared with me their working experience and advice. With my commencement around the corner, I feel reassured to know that the MIIS Mafia has a strong presence, and to learn the names of some of the people that I should talk to when I start freelancing in the largest interpretation market in China.


Lan Li MACI2715 at work 2

The trip was an example of perfect interdisciplinary cooperation between IPS and GSTILE. I made myself a useful addition by facilitating smooth communications thanks to previous training at MIIS. After greeting our guest speakers, Prof. Liang would remind them that simultaneous interpretation was provided by MIIS CI students, and that they were free to speak Chinese. On the one hand, this enabled the lectures to expound on their ideas and speak their minds more freely; on the other hand, it saved participants precious time for more discussion, which would have to be shortened by half without simultaneous interpretation. It was an educational experience on both sides. I was introduced to a wide range of topics, and my fellow IPS students learned how to work with interpreters who will surely be part of their future professional life. It also came as a confidence booster, as this was my first interpretation assignment out in the field. I was able to carry messages across language barriers without major meaning errors, and impressed we our hosts with our professionalism.


The interpretation trip would not have been half as successful without the generous support of GSTILE. Our hosts in Beijing were surprised enough to receive a graduate students’ group bringing with their own interpreters; they were even more impressed when they found out that we came equipped with the best portable devices in the market. If outsiders’ amazement was not convincing enough, I JA Parliament_Lan Lioverheard a conversation between an interpretation program coordinator who was invited to speak at the Monterey Forum, with our interpretation practicum professor Laura Burian. He was a little surprised to find that student interpreters at MIIS are allowed to handle portable devices (transmitters and receivers). I bet he would drop his jaw had he known that I was  allowed, or rather, encouraged by the ever-supportive GSTILE to travel with 10 receivers, 1 transmitter and 1 microphone on an overseas trip that lasted 12 days. Before my departure, Angie Queensberry helped me pack the devices with foams and loaded me with packets of batteries just to be sure we would have them. Prof. Burian took the initiative to draft an English supporting document explaining what the equipment was for and asking for assistance at customs. The Japanese version was readily prepared by my colleague, Hirofumi Jinno and proofread by Prof. Tsuneo Akaha; while the Chinese version was translated by myself and proofread by Prof. Burian. Of course, all the paperwork was made valid by the approval of Dean Renee Jourdenais who was there for us all the time. Everyone that I have come across in this trip has proved themselves to be a follower of our motto “Be the solution”.


EU Visiting Staff Events

Three staff members from the European Union Commission visit MIIS and UC Berkeley to discuss Multilingualism in the European Union

Please see the attached flyers for information about the two related events: a Tech Cafe in the DLC on February 9 from 4-6, and a panel discussion in the Irvine Auditorium on February 10 from 12:15-1:30.

Please also note that there is limited space in the DLC, so if you’d like to attend the event, you will need to contact Professor Max Troyer to reserve a space.

Dates: Monday and Tuesday, February 9th and 10th. Please note the dates!

Lecture on the intersection of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Human Computer Interface (HCI)

Spence GreenSpence Green is a recent Ph.D graduate in Computer Science at Stanford University. He works with Chris Manning and Jeff Heer and is a member of the Stanford NLP Group and the UW Interactive Data Lab. Spence is currently researching the intersection of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Human Computer Interface (HCI). He has also worked on syntactic parsing, machine translation, and coreference resolution. He co-organized the first Workshop on Interactive Language Learning, Visualization, and Interfaces held at ACL 2014. He is participating in building an interdisciplinary community interested in the intersection of NLP, HCI, and data visualization. Spence’s presentation will focus on the technical side of his dissertation, which is part of a machine translation research effort led by Christopher Manning, a professor of linguistics and of computer science. This presentation will be of interest to all translation students and faculty, but will be technical in nature.

Spence will present on Tuesday, December 9th from 12pm to 1:30pm in the Irvine Auditorium.

16th Mini-Monterey Model

16th Mini-Monterey Model Flyer

The Mini-Monterey Model is collaborative effort between the Language and Intercultural Program and the Interpretation Practicum class. It includes a set of presentations given by students in the languages that they are studying. The presentations are then simultaneously interpreted by students of interpretation into various languages.
The theme this year, presented by the Chinese Studies Program, is Current Events and Dao De Jing; students will present on their research projects on a variety of topics, including international politics, environment, trade disputes, humanities, etc., with many presentations relating to “the way” (also known as “the dao” or “the tao”). Interpretation Practicum students will simultaneously interpret these Chinese speeches into English, Japanese, French, and Spanish, using relay interpretation (Chinese to English to Spanish/ Japanese/ French). As part of the program, students will give a demonstration explaining how consecutive and simultaneous interpretation work.

Meet the Chinese Interpreters!

Meet the Chinese Interpreters!

11 students in Chinese program will interpret at the Fall Forum.

Chinese Interpreters

From left to right, WANG Jingrui, LIU Chang, REN Junhan (Scarlett), Lorraine Wan, SHEN Peilan (Becky), SHEN Yingchun (Erica), CHEN Mo (April), SUN Yayuan, LIU Meng (Susan), WU Yiray, YANG Xiaoting (Gracey), SOONG Shan Chie (Grace), LI Lan (Fall Forum Planning Committee, not interpreting at Fall Forum)


Fun Fact about the Chinese Language:

Chinese is said to be among the most difficult languages for native English speakers to learn, along with Arabic, Japanese and Korean. However, it’s not really as hard as you might think!


There are none of the tenses, plurals, conjugations or genders that can make learning European languages such a daunting task. For example, instead of saying “I went to San Francisco last week”, “Last week, I go to San Francisco” is enough — as “last week” has already indicated that the action happened in the past.


The hard bit is mastering the tones. Mandarin is a tonal language, which means the intonation of a sound determines its meaning. Tones fall on the vowels in pinyin. If you get this wrong you might end up saying completely the wrong thing. For example, wǒ xiǎng wèn nǐ, means ‘I want to ask you’. Simple enough, right? But if you were to say wǒ xiǎng wěn nǐ, it would mean ‘I want to kiss you’. Oops!


In a famous one-syllable article, a form of constrained writing unique to Chinese, Yuen Ren Chao (1892–1982) wrote the 施氏食狮史 (literally: “The Story of Shi Shi Eating Lions”, pinyin: Shī Shì shí shī shǐ;) in Classical Chinese. In this 92-character modern poem, every syllable has the same sound shi, only to be differentiated from one another by the four tones when read in modern Mandarin Chinese.