RHS Students Learning About Interpretation and Translation Through New Partnership With UMass Amherst

Special to the Journal

It’s a cutting-edge program that is the first of its kind in Massachusetts and, perhaps, the nation.

Through a new partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Revere High School students are taking a course in interpretation and translation that may spark interest and lead to careers in the field.

“We’re doing something cutting-edge with the students,” said Regina Galasso, Associate Professor and Director of the Translation Center at UMass Amherst. “If the students are committed, it will distinguish them in their understanding of language and how to look at it and how to use it.”

The Foundations of Translation, Interpreting, and Language class at RHS will position students on a pathway to unique careers in translation and interpreting while learning to embrace their background and culture.

According to US News and World Reports, interpreters and translators made a median salary of $53,640 in 2022, and the best-paid interpreters and translators made $73,430 per year. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says job opportunities for translators and interpreters will increase by 20% by the decade’s end, which is faster than other occupations.

“I think that if we give students the foundation of all the things they can do with language and explain why speaking different languages matters or why understanding languages matters, then maybe they’ll want to keep studying languages or have a career in translating and interpreting,” said Galasso. “Hopefully, through this course, all of those things are going to come together for these students.”

Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Inclusion Dr. Lourenço Garcia said that upon graduating from high school, these students will already have skills in translation and interpretation, which will open up numerous opportunities.

“This course opens a new pathway and opportunities,” said Garcia. “We want our students to become whatever they want. This is a tremendous skill to learn and could lead to a good career and financial stability in the future.”

Revere Public Schools’ Director, Multilanguage Learner and World Language Programs, Jennifer LaBollita, said many students are already acting as interpreters or translators for caregivers and family members in the community.

“We’re at the point where students are bilingual or multilingual in some cases,” said LaBollita. “It’s about their experiences being bilingual and how they’re using it. So many kids over the last two years have talked about how, in small ways, they’re translating at the grocery store for family members or their friends and trying to help them navigate through language barriers. This is their daily life. We’re in a multilingual community, and they’re navigating through these different languages.”

LaBollita said making students realize being multilingual or bilingual is a marketable, important skill and something to be valued is the goal of the program. As part of the class, each week students will engage with a guest speaker representing a range of fields and opportunities.

“No matter what career these students choose, they’re going to have to communicate with the whole community of Revere,” she said. “Whether they are in business, education, social services, or the trades, there is a need for bilingual speakers now more than ever. We tend to celebrate someone learning Spanish as an additional language versus the native Spanish speaker who learns English, but the native Spanish speaker is not just a linguistic broker but a cultural broker when it comes to interpretation and translation.”

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