Not Chinese, but passionate about language

Private school teacher Evangelyn Stephen and British engineer Martin Reed are among NTU's pioneer batch of students studying for the master's degree in translation and interpretation.
Private school teacher Evangelyn Stephen and British engineer Martin Reed are among NTU's pioneer batch of students studying for the master's degree in translation and interpretation.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

British engineer Martin Reed, 43, and Indian Singaporean language teacher Evangelyn Stephen, 24, stand out among the first batch of students taking the master's degree course in translation and interpretation at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

They are the only two non-Chinese students in the class.

Dr Reed, a senior research fellow with the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore at the National University of Singapore, speaks fluent Mandarin and spent a year learning Chinese and translation in Beijing about 10 years ago.

"I am here for the course because I am very interested in the Chinese language and think the course will help me become a better translator or interpreter," said Dr Reed. He has a doctorate in electronic engineering from Nottingham University.

He believes the NTU programme, which places emphasis on both the theory and practical aspects of English-Chinese translation and interpretation, would help raise professional standards here.

Equally interested in the Chinese language is Miss Stephen, who graduated from Shandong University with a bachelor's degree in journalism two years ago under a Chinese government scholarship, after her A levels at Dunman High School.

Miss Stephen's father is Indian and a retired civil servant, while her Chinese mother works as a counsellor. She said she received the scholarship after representing Singapore and winning a Chinese-language contest in Beijing organised by the Chinese government in 2008.

"It was an excellent opportunity to further my language studies in China, which I did between 2010 and 2014," said the English- and Chinese-language teacher at a private school here, who had learnt Chinese since she was in primary school.

During her undergraduate days in Shandong, she said she met many foreigners studying Chinese.

"I told myself if they could master Chinese so well, I as a Singaporean should be able to do even better and so decided to be a translator or interpreter after the course at NTU."

Leong Weng Kam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'Not Chinese, but passionate about language'. Print Edition | Subscribe