A post-graduate degree programme in translation and interpretation, aimed at raising standards and meeting rising demand for professionals in the field, will be launched at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) this evening.
The first batch of 30 students, all bilingual in Chinese and English and with experience in doing translation or interpretation, started classes for their year-long Master's in Translation and Interpretation (MTI) course a week ago.
Minister of State for Health and for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat, who chairs the National Translation Committee, will officiate at the launch of the course at NTU's Campus Clubhouse.
Professor Liu Hong, chair of NTU's school of humanities and social sciences which runs the programme, said: "We started the programme, the first of its kind in the region, to meet the increasing need for bilingual professionals proficient in Chinese and English in Singapore as well as the region.
"Also, there have been complaints that the standard of Chinese-English translation and interpretation here is lacking, and we hope the course can help rectify it."
He said response to the programme was better than expected, with 80 applications received. "We actually wanted to take only 20 to 25 students, but ended with 30 instead, 85 per cent of them Singaporeans," he added.
Programme director Helena Gao said the course is designed to provide students with a high standard of training in translation and interpretation, and equip them with knowledge that they can use in the different social, cultural and other fields of translation work.
Students have to take five core subjects, mainly to provide theoretical and research foundations, and three electives, subjects to help the students understand industry needs and tailor them to their areas of specialisation.
In addition, they are required to attend a six-week immersion programme between May and June at the Beijing Foreign Studies University in China where many Chinese diplomats, language specialists and translators and interpreters from the United Nations are trained.
Before they graduate, students must also complete a dissertation or do a course project.
Dr Gao, a trained translator before she became an academic, said the programme's teaching faculty includes guest lecturers from the National University of Singapore and the University of London as well as industry practitioners.
Miss Deng Yihan, 33, a former civil servant and now business manager of her family's packaging business, said: "I enrolled for the course because I am interested in languages and aim to be a professional translator and interpreter some day."