Using speechmaking and consecutive interpreting as tools to help students develop writing and public speaking skills: a hybrid teaching methodology based on mind mapping

By Sílvia Araújo & Ana Correia (University of Minho, Portugal)

Abstract

The digital age plays a key role in learning, helping to discover new ways of acquiring, building and disseminating knowledge. One of the most attractive features of this new digitally-oriented learning lies in the fact that students are actively involved in their learning process. In this paper, we discuss the methodology of a teaching experiment, conducted with third-year students of the undergraduate programme in Applied Languages at the University of Minho (Braga, Portugal), which explored the benefits of hybrid learning through the implementation of a collaborative digital environment. 

Keywords: mind mapping, consecutive interpreting, multimodality, hybrid learning

©inTRAlinea & Sílvia Araújo & Ana Correia (2020).
"Using speechmaking and consecutive interpreting as tools to help students develop writing and public speaking skills: a hybrid teaching methodology based on mind mapping"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Technology in Interpreter Education and Practice
Edited by: Nicoletta Spinolo & Amalia Amato
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL: http://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/2515

1. Hybrid learning and multimodality

Information and communication technologies have invaded our daily lives. Among the youth, it is particularly in leisure and communication activities that their immersion in the digital world becomes most visible (Endrizzi, 2012). Therefore, we believe it is important to find innovative pedagogical methods that prompt students to fully exploit the educational potential of digital resources (Knoerr, 2005). We have tried to meet the evolutionary demands of the digital generation by developing a hybrid teaching method that involves a combination of face-to-face and online learning (Nissen, 2007). Specifically, three reasons have led to the idea of implementing a teaching plan for a hybrid interpreting course:

  1. meeting the institutional demand for the diversification of online learning modes;
  2. offering a more flexible interpreting course in terms of time and space in order to deal with challenges such as the high number of students and the reduced number of class hours; and
  3. creating and testing new training methods in the field of interpreting considering the above-mentioned challenges.

The implementation of this hybrid teaching method entails profound changes that bring to the fore the concept of multimodality. Multimodal competence has to do with the ability to read and communicate by efficiently combining linguistic, visual and sound modes using different mediums. As mentioned by Lebrun and Lacelle (2012), this competence involves simultaneous use of at least two mediums (for example, image and text). The ability to read and communicate so-called multi-texts holds an important place within the pool of relevant skills for 21st‑century adults as it requires cognitive, emotional, pragmatic, semiotic and textual skills (Danielsson and Selander, 2016; Legros and Maître de Pembroke, 2001).

Although in the present paper we have chosen to focus on hybrid learning and multimodality, the concepts of student-centred learning, stepwise learning, computer-assisted instruction and peer learning (Fong et al. 2008) also play a part in the teaching experiment herewith described. The methodology we have devised for the consecutive interpreting course considers students as active stakeholders in their own learning. It is a gradual process, with increasing levels of difficulty of the speeches to be interpreted and moving from intralingual to interlingual interpreting exercises. Digital technologies also play an important role as students are asked to complete some tasks using their computers or smartphones as well as specific software programmes (for mind mapping and video recording). Finally, this methodology is mainly conducted in a digital environment where the students can access all contents produced by their peers, fostering collaboration among them.  

2. Mind mapping

In this section, we propose not only to introduce the concept of mind mapping, but also to demonstrate its relevance for consecutive interpreting teaching.

2.1. Concept definition

Mind mapping is a creative and yet logical technique for organising information, which allows us to group together and communicate ideas in a visual way, both in spoken and written mediums. This technique has been traced back to the 3rd century BC when Greek philosopher Porphyry of Tyre created a tree-shaped diagram to classify Aristotle’s categories. While mind mapping has been around for centuries, it was not until the 1960s and 1970s that it gained widespread popularity due to the development of semantic networks and to the contribution of British psychologist Tony Buzan (1974).

Mind maps are hierarchical diagrams where a central concept branches out into several nodes and subnodes. These nodes and subnodes (which can be equated with topics and subtopics) may be represented by words, images or symbols, and they are connected to each other by lines or arrows. Different shapes and colours can be used to enhance the readability of mind maps, helping the reader to visualise more effectively that, for instance, certain concepts are grouped together or that one concept is hierarchically superior to another. A schematic representation of a mind map is displayed in figure 1.  

Figure 1. Visual representation of mind mapping

This figure illustrates the prototypical radiant structure of the mind map, which is based on a given concept or idea placed at the centre of the map. All the nodes on the map are then connected by lines, which may be coloured differently as in the image above. In order to build a mind map, one can simply use paper and pencil or enlist the help of dedicated software. There are several web-based and user-friendly tools for creating mind maps, such as Popplet[1] and Coggle[2]. Owing to their versatility, mind maps can be employed in the field of education as a means to enhance the learning process, boosting memory and visual perception (Aisami, 2015; Arthur, 2012). In this paper we are interested in the technique of mind mapping as a pedagogical tool to teach consecutive interpreting.

2.2. Mind mapping and consecutive interpreting

As mentioned above, mind mapping is a technique used for organising information. According to Jukes, McCain and Crockett (2010: 31), more than 60 per cent of students today are visual or visual kinaesthetic learners, which shows the relevance of mind maps for education (Caro Dambreville, 2014). The pictorial aspect of mind mapping has already drawn the attention of interpreting scholars (Gillies, 2014; Ilg and Lambert, 1996; Ondřeková, 2013; Torres Díaz, 1997).  

In the context of interpreting, a mind map can be described as a visual representation of a speech typically transferred onto a single page. Gillies (2014) claims that ‘creating a mind map requires an understanding and analysis of the incoming speech, and it is this that is so useful to interpreters.’ (p. 21). Not only is mind mapping a useful analytical exercise, but it can be regarded as a form of note-taking, which is an important skill to boost memory in consecutive interpreting. Ilg and Lambert refer to mind mapping as ‘patterned note-taking’ (1996: 86) and portray it as an alternative to linear up-down, left right patterns of note-taking. According to these authors, the radiant structure of mind maps accommodates the non-linear cognitive processes of speech comprehension and may therefore enhance recall. Furthermore, this patterned form of note-taking requires listeners to make sense of incoming chunks of information and of how they fit together to create a coherent whole. As a result, it imposes a highly active role on listeners during the speech comprehension process (ibid.: 87-88).  

As stated by Ilg and Lambert, ‘learners (…) should first get a feeling for the gist of paragraphs and sentences before worrying about words and phrases. They should learn to read the road map before looking for the footpaths in the countryside’ (1996: 79). Additionally, consecutive interpreting trainees must understand what a speech is and how it is organised. They must further be able to grasp the content of a speech, and due to time and memory constraints imposed by consecutive interpreting, it is essential that this process be as smooth and as swift as possible. Bearing this in consideration, the purpose of mind mapping is to help students identify the main and secondary topics using a limited amount of words or even symbols or images. Due to the visual nature of mind maps, students become aware that a speech is based on a central topic, which ramifies into main and secondary subtopics. The lines on the map help students to perceive the relations between the topic and subtopics, and they often use numbers on the subtopics to create a hermeneutical path that can be grasped with a quick glance at the map. If they can assimilate this structure, students should be able not only to create and deliver a speech, but also to interpret a given speech as they will have grasped the source speech more easily. 

Torres Díaz (1997) reports using mind maps in her consecutive interpreting courses as a technique for note-taking. Based on her teaching experience, the act of sketching and drawing fosters the development of mnemonic and analytical skills, and the use of keywords to represent the ideas conveyed by the speaker places greater emphasis on meaning over words, which leaves more time to focus on processing the incoming speech, including its paralinguistic features, such as the speaker’s body language. The author further claims that mind mapping ‘contributed to the development of their [the students’] public speaking techniques forcing them to use their own words when delivering the speech’ (ibid.: 215). Despite its potential as a teaching tool, mind mapping is nevertheless faced with certain limitations as a technique for note-taking. According to Gillies (2014), for the purposes of consecutive interpreting, mind mapping is best suited to speech analysis rather than note-taking. In fact, not all speeches are equally amenable to mind mapping. Jones explains that ‘a speech may be so abstract that no amount of effort will produce a visualization of the notion expressed’ (1998: 35). Besides this, mind maps should fit into one page, and some speeches develop in unexpected ways that sometimes make it difficult to confine all the relevant information to that limited space. Moreover, mind mapping might not work for everyone. As a matter of fact, some students involved in our teaching experiment struggled with mind mapping and therefore preferred to rely on linear note‑taking, as did the subjects involved in Ondřeková’s study (2013).

For her master’s project, Ondřeková (2013) proposed to assess the impact of mind mapping as a technique not only for note-taking but also for the preparatory stage of consecutive interpreting assignments. Her sample comprised ten students, considered novice interpreters (although not complete beginners) who attended introductory consecutive interpreting seminars. At an initial stage, the subjects were asked to draw a mind map to prepare a speech for an upcoming consecutive interpreting seminar and, subsequently, to fill in a questionnaire during the following seminar regarding their perceptions on the use of mind mapping. According to the findings of this study, students do acknowledge the relevance of mind mapping as a preparation tool but not as a note-taking technique, which they dismissed as cumbersome and distracting. These results contradict those concisely reported in Torres Díaz’s paper (1997). However, Ondřeková (2013) suggests that the students’ negative views on mind mapping for note-taking may be due to the lack of practice and to the fact that they had already developed their own style of note-taking before experimenting with mind maps.

In our study, mind mapping served a twofold purpose: to improve speech comprehension and production and to provide students with a simple and intuitive tool to help them take notes instead of falling into the temptation of ‘transcribing’ the source speech word-by-word. Furthermore, the combination of mind mapping and consecutive interpreting resulted from the characteristics of the course and the students in question. On the one hand, the Interpreting Principles course is not an interpreting course per se, but rather an introduction to interpreting where some practical training in consecutive is provided. It is an undergraduate course, part of the Applied Languages Degree at the University of Minho. On the other hand, students attending the course are familiar with (written) translation rather than interpreting, and only few of them consider pursuing interpreting as a career. We therefore wanted to use this course not only to introduce interpreting, but also to equip students with skills that they could transfer to other areas of their professional lives (such as, for example, public speaking, speech comprehension and organisation of thought).

3. Pedagogical contextualisation

In this section, we provide the relevant information regarding the academic context and pedagogical techniques involved in the methodology designed for teaching consecutive interpreting.

3.1. Degree and course unit

At the University of Minho (Gualtar Campus, Braga, Portugal), we conducted a teaching experiment with the students from the Bachelor’s degree in Applied Languages attending the course unit of Interpreting Principles. This course is taught at the third year of the undergraduate programme. The BA curriculum mostly focuses on translation but in the final year it offers students a theoretical and practical overview of interpreting in its different modes, with a special focus on consecutive interpreting.

This initiative took place for the first time during the 2014-15 academic year and has been repeated every year since, with slight modifications. For the present study, we will refer to 2016-17. The course comprised a total of 45 hours throughout a semester and was taught once a week in a three-hour class. It was divided into three modules, as illustrated below:

Module I (15h)

•History of interpreting

•Interpreting vs. translation

•Interpreting modes

•The work of the interpreter

Module II (15h)

•Mind mapping

•Training in consecutive interpreting (intralingual)

Module III (15h)

•Training in consecutive interpreting (interlingual)

Table 1. Modules taught in Interpreting Principles

Module I is theoretical, and Modules II and III are practice-oriented. Five classes (that is, a total of 15 hours) were allotted to each module. After monitoring the students’ opinions, we understood that they find the second and third modules more interesting. For that reason, in the future we will consider the option of rearranging the distribution of classes amongst the modules to cater for the students’ needs. Regarding the language combination, it should be noted that most students (90% = 44) were native Portuguese speakers who had English as their B language. In total, the class comprised 54 students, which exceeds the ideal number of students in an interpreting classroom. Therefore, it was necessary to devise an effective way of allowing every student to have their work duly assessed.  

3.2. Hybrid teaching platform

In order to assist the management of the students’ and the teacher’s work, we created a wiki page using the Wikispaces platform. This platform is out of service as of July 2018 but there are others, such as PBworks[3] and Wikidot[4]. The wiki included all the relevant information concerning the learning goals and outcomes of the course, the assignments as well as the modes of assessment. Below is a screenshot of the homepage, where the teacher posted all the relevant information and contents of the course (figure 2).   

Figure 2. Homepage  

Figure 3. E-portfolio - student presentation

Each student had their own personal wiki page, all of which were listed on the right-hand column of the homepage. The students’ personal pages are called e-portfolios. They not only contain personal information on the students but also serve as a repository of the work they completed during the semester. On their e-portfolios, the students put together a visual presentation of themselves, indicating their name, hobbies, areas of interest, intended master’s degree, working languages and other personal information they wished to provide. This helped the teacher get a general sense of the students’ disposition towards interpreting (figure 3).

Most of the work for this course was developed by the students remotely. However, all their work, whether done in class or not, was kept on their e-portfolios to avoid losing any material (figure 4).  

Figure 4. E-portfolio - student assignments in chronological order

The students were encouraged to incorporate other digital tools into their e-portfolios, thus enhancing the functions of the platform. For example, to organise chronologically all the interpreting exercises done in and out of class, they created a virtual mural (as can be seen in figure 4) using Padlet[5], which combines the map and the corresponding recording in mp3 or mp4, making them accessible from a single location.

Wikis are fully collaborative platforms, which means that all contents placed in a wiki are accessible to all its members. They further provide students with different ways to interact among them and with the teacher (for example, chat and forum). This concept of open platform improves teamwork through horizontal (student-student) rather than vertical communication (student-teacher), as part of a student-centred approach where students actively learn with each other (peer learning). The wiki further allows users to see which page was edited most and which one had the highest number of views. The latter features help to set a role model among peers. After the first few assignments were posted on the e-portfolios, students implicitly arrived at a consensus regarding the best speeches and/or interpretations. This aspect added a sense of healthy competition to the course, ultimately serving as a source of motivation and encouragement to strive towards improved results. All these features mimic the functioning of social media networks, which have a constant presence in the lifestyles of young people nowadays. This aspect has proved relevant to engage students in the learning process.

3.3. Mind mapping technique

The mind mapping technique was taught in the first class of Module II, after the theoretical module. Students must first decide on the theme, which should be located at the centre of the mind map. The map presents three hierarchical levels: topic(s) (level 1), subtopic(s) (level 2) and examples to illustrate each subtopic (level 3). Colours and shapes may be used to assign levels to the various ideas contained in the map. For example, in figure 5, the topics are surrounded by circles, subtopics by rectangles and examples by rhombuses:

Figure 5. Mind map with shapes  

Figure 6. Mind map with colours

In figure 6, colours, rather than shapes, are used to indicate the hierarchical levels. The topics are written in green, the subtopics in purple, and the examples in pink. In addition to the use of colours and/or shapes, students were advised to use arrows to connect the various ideas in the map. In some cases (see figure 5), they took the liberty of adding numbers to each box to help them further organise the speech into chronological segments. Intuitively, they followed a clockwise order in the layout of the ideas, that is, the beginning of the speech is located on the right part of the map, which then progresses to the left as the speech unfolds (Régnard, 2010). Although we provided a basis for mind mapping, each student was given leeway to adapt the technique.

When introducing mind mapping to students, it is essential to explain how the radiant structure of the mind map translates into writing. The topics represent sections in the text, and the subtopics are the paragraphs of each of those sections. Albeit simple, this explanation helped students understand what a paragraph is and how paragraphs are related between them through connectors, forming a cohesive and coherent text. This visual layout is first applied to writing and subsequently to speaking. As mentioned above, software programmes are available for mind mapping. Nevertheless, when technological means are unavailable or undesirable, it is also possible to build mind maps by simply using paper and pencil. As a case in point, this lesson on mind mapping was conducted in a regular classroom, without the use of computers.  

4. From speechmaking to consecutive interpreting training: overview of the methodology

The methodology we propose involves two main stages: speechmaking and consecutive interpreting training. In both modules of the course, students are first encouraged to develop their speechmaking skills, and only then do they move to consecutive interpreting training. Specifically, students begin by preparing speeches using the mind mapping technique, and subsequently those speeches are interpreted by fellow classmates, also relying on mind maps for note-taking. This work plan is implemented in groups of three and can be conducted in or out of class. A detailed summary of all the tasks is provided in the following figure:

Figure 7. Overview of the methodology

Speechmaking corresponds to T1-4 A/B and T1-3 A/B in Modules II and III, respectively. In Module II A, students begin by choosing a topic of their preference and undertaking documentary research. Subsequently, they build a mind map to assist them in preparing the speech. Based on the mind map, they then render the speech both in writing and orally in Portuguese. Alternatively (Module II B), rather than having the students devise their own speech, the teacher is responsible for providing a speech in Portuguese. Next, the students build the corresponding mind map while listening to the speech, which, as in the previous step, is first rendered in writing and then orally, also in Portuguese. Option A was used for out-of-class practice, whereas option B was best suited to the classes. Module III includes the same tasks as Module II, the only differences being that the students are now asked to deliver their speech in a foreign language (English, French or Spanish), and they immediately proceed to the spoken rendering, without going through the written rendering. In both Modules, the spoken renderings (T4 in Module II A/B and T3 in Module III A/B) provide the point of departure for the consecutive interpreting training.  

After speechmaking, consecutive interpreting training ensues, which corresponds to T5-7 A/B and T4-6 A/B in Modules II and III, respectively. At this stage, rounds of interpreting exercises are conducted in groups of three students. Student 1 delivers a speech in Portuguese (Module II) or in a foreign language (Module III), student 2 interprets it into Portuguese (the interpretation is always into Portuguese irrespective of the module), and student 3 is responsible for listening and assessing. The choice between option A and B does not apply to the second stage of the methodology as it refers exclusively to speechmaking. Finally, it should be highlighted that both speechmaking and consecutive interpreting training were implemented in and out of class, in both modules.

The figure above illustrates the central role of mind mapping as an intermediate stage between the preparation and the production stages of speech delivery. It is important to invest in the pre-production stages (documentary research and mind mapping) since the skills required are not a given – not even in the students’ native language. Furthermore, this methodology is closely related to the concept of stepwise learning, mentioned in the introduction, ensuring an effective assimilation of the various skills. Specifically, the stepwise approach is reflected in the gradual move from intralingual to interlingual exercises and the elimination of the written rendering from Module II to Module III, always progressing from speechmaking to consecutive interpreting training, whether working in or out of class.

5. Implementation: group work management  

The main challenge behind this methodology lay in its implementation, owing to the number of students and the fact that only one teacher was responsible for each Module of the course. Given such conditions, the students were divided into groups of three, as mentioned above, where one student played the speaker role, another played the interpreter, and yet another the listener.  

Figure 8. Student roles

This rotational framework applies to in-class and out-of-class training, with the difference that when students are working remotely the ‘listener’ role does not exist due to logistical limitations. In the future we plan to use videoconferencing to allow students to work together in real time from different locations, with all three participants involved (speaker, interpreter and listener), similarly to in-class practice. The videoconference sessions will be recorded using free web-based screen-recording software such as Screencast-O-Matic[6], so that the teacher can subsequently have access to the students’ output.

5.1. Working in class

A virtual mural was published in the wiki in order to manage the distribution of work among the students of each group:

Figure 9. Virtual mural with the work distribution per group

The first column was managed by the teacher, who posted three speeches a week, either in Portuguese, during Module II, or in a foreign language, during Module III. The teacher had to ensure that the level of difficulty was suited to this group of students (beginner). This homogeneity could be achieved by using dedicated resources such as the EU Speech Repository[7].  

A column was then created for each group of three students and included a link to a Google Drive folder previously created for each group. Each folder was further divided into three subfolders, one for each student in the group. As shown in figure 4 above, the students published the links to their assignments (not the folders) in their e-portfolios.

When working in class, each student in each group chose one of three speeches posted by the teacher[8]. They listened to the speech on their smartphones[9] and produced their own renditions in the same language.[10] The latter were then taken as source speeches to be interpreted by the other group members. Let us consider group 1 as an example:

  • Student 1 chose the speech on blogging. She listened to it, made the mind map and delivered it in the same language, while the other two students played the roles of listener and interpreter;
    Student 1=speaker[11] – Student 3=interpreter[12] – Student 2=listener
  • Student 2 chose the speech on Brussels lifestyle. She listened to it, made the mind map and delivered it in the same language, while the other two students played the roles of listener and interpreter;
    Student 2=speaker[13] – Student 1=interpreter[14] – Student 3=listener
  • Student 3 chose the speech on music and interpreting. He listened to it, made the mind map and delivered it in the same language, while the other two students played the roles of listener and interpreter;
    Student 3=speaker[15] – Student 2=interpreter[16] – Student 1=listener

The speaker first listened to the speech s/he chose from the mural, made the corresponding mind map and only then delivered it. The same applied to the interpreter student, who had to listen to the student speaker’s speech, make the mind map and only then produce his/her interpretation. The topics of the speeches were eclectic and in some cases of a technical nature. For this reason, whenever deemed necessary, the speaker provided the interpreter with a glossary with the terms s/he considered more difficult[17]. The glossary was monolingual in Module II and bilingual (EN-PT) in Module III. The speaker further provided the listener with the mind map of his/her speech so that the latter could take note of possible omissions and distortions incurred by the interpreter. This tripartite approach allowed for twofold assessment: not only did the listener and the speaker assess the performance of the interpreter, but the interpreter and the listener could also assess the performance of the speaker. The speeches delivered by each student (both source and target[18]) were recorded in class with smartphones (hence mp3) and uploaded along with the mind map to the respective drive folders accessible from the mural.

The division of the class presented two main advantages: (1) it ensured that the students were permanently engaged in the class activities, effectively using their smartphones for pedagogical purposes[19], and (2) for each interpreting exercise, we were able to have two students (speaker and listener) commenting on the performance of the interpreter, and two students (interpreter and listener) commenting on the performance of the speaker based on an assessment grid provided by the teacher. This allowed students to receive instant feedback on their performance, often in the form of positive reinforcement (peer to peer), helping students overcome some initial shyness (Chiang, 2010). It further contributed to downsizing the teacher’s assessment duties without compromising the quality of teaching.

5.2. Working out of class

When working remotely, the same procedures applied, except for some minor changes in the speechmaking tasks. Firstly, students were required to create their own speeches rather than choosing one of the speeches provided by the teacher on the virtual mural. Secondly, instead of audio recording their performances, they were required to video record themselves and upload the video recording to their drive (accessible from the mural).

As for consecutive training, the same groups of three were valid for in-class and out-of-class training, but only the speaker and interpreter roles applied in the latter case, as explained in the beginning of this section. Just as in class, the speaker delivered a speech either in Portuguese (Module II) or in a foreign language (Module III), whereas the interpreter always interpreted into Portuguese. As illustrated in figure 10 below, student 1 delivered his/her own speech, student 2 interpreted the speech delivered by student 1, student 3 interpreted the speech delivered by student 2, and finally student 1 interpreted the speech delivered by student 3:  

Figure 10. Workflow of out-of-class interpreting exercises

Aiming for a proper implementation of this method at a distance, it was crucial that students completed their assignments on time since they depended on each other to receive their source speeches. For instance, student 1 needs to prepare a speech for student 2 to interpret, who in turn must record and upload his/her delivery for student 3 to interpret. Any delay from student 1 will necessarily interrupt the workflow.

Mind mapping was required for both the delivery of source speeches and the rendition of the target speeches (that is, the interpretations). However, mind maps were not uploaded until all students in the group had delivered their source and target speeches. Some students chose to create the mind map with dedicated software whereas others preferred the pencil-and-paper approach. Concerning the recordings, students were encouraged to record their speeches (original and interpreted) in mp4 format so that a clearer notion could be achieved as to whether they were delivering the source and target speech using exclusively the mind map and not reading from a script. Those who chose audio recording (mp3) lost two points in the final classification of their performance. Students used different kinds of devices for their recordings, particularly smartphones and laptops.

Figures 11. Mind maps and corresponding speeches

For the video recording, some students used the online video platform Knovio[20], which allows simultaneous visualisation of the speaker and/or of the mind map. As displayed in figure 12 below, the button at the top right-hand corner of the screen allows the user to decide whether they want to see the video (left scroll), the map (right scroll) or both (middle).  

Figure 12. Mind map and corresponding speech using Knovio

Visual contact constitutes an important element of consecutive interpreting (Poyatos, 2012), and videos have proved relevant as they are very much in line with today’s digital culture, where young people are used to seeing themselves and others and, most importantly, to being seen by others. As previously mentioned, the students’ recordings are posted on the e-portfolios, thus becoming accessible to all wiki members. In fact, the curiosity generated by the possibility of viewing others’ e‑portfolios increased not only class attendance rates but also the students’ commitment to the interpreting exercises, both in and out of class (Mailles-Viard Metz and Albernhe-Giordan, 2010).

6. Assessment of the students’ work

As a result of the methodology hitherto described, the students produced a significant amount of work. It would most certainly be unmanageable for one teacher to grade all assignments. One of the advantages of working in groups lay precisely in the fact that students themselves could take an active role in assessing the performances of their group peers. In fact, this reflective stage of the process helped them gain awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, which ultimately contributed to improving their performance. While in class students received instant feedback from their peers, when working out of class this was not the case. To assist students in their assessments, the teacher provided a grid which featured some basic elements of (consecutive) interpreting:

Scale

Parameters

Points

Comments

4/10

Coherence of the speech and faithfulness to the source.  

__ /10

 

4/10

Grammatical correction, lexical adjustment and proper register.

__ /10

 

 

2/10

Prosody, fluency, eye contact and posture.

__ /10

 

 

Table 2. Assessment grid

The parameters listed in the assessment grid above concern the verbal and nonverbal dimensions of communication. While we are aware that more comprehensive and exhaustive grids are available for assessing (consecutive) interpreting performances (for instance, Gile, 1995; Ibrahim and El-Esery, 2014; Lee, 2008; Postigo Pinazo, 2008; Riccardi, 2002), we deliberately opted for a simple grid, on the grounds that: (1) our students are not interpreting students and it is in their best interest to focus on core skills that they transfer to other areas of their lives and (2) we did not want to overburden them with a complex assessment since their workload was already extensive. The teacher had access to every assignment of each student as well as to the assessment grids, and the final grades were based on these two main elements.  

7. Student feedback  

At the end of the course, we designed a small questionnaire to gauge the students’ thoughts and attitudes towards mind mapping. Out of the 23 students who took the questionnaire, 19 claimed they had never used mind maps. Those who had did it to summarise contents and study for school tests. Twenty-one students stated that mind mapping helped them to prepare and deliver their speeches more effectively during the course. The reasons stated by the students in support of this answer can be summarised as follows:  

  • Mind mapping helps to organise ideas and to structure the speech, because it allows you to order the main items in a text and shows the connections between the different ideas;
  • Mind mapping helps to circumscribe the most important information in a text and to improve your thoughts, hence the speech;
  • Mind mapping helps to organise the main ideas of the source speech, functioning as a kind of ‘translation memory’.

Even though most students (95%) claimed they used mind mapping throughout the course to help them deliver their source and target speeches, five students reported struggling with mind mapping for the following reasons:  

  • It is difficult to connect certain subtopics;
  • It is very difficult to compress a lot of information in few words, while making sure the interpreted speech contains the same ideas as the original;
  • Mind mapping makes you focus more on the form rather than content, which causes you to miss a lot of information.

We further aim to design a second questionnaire in order to gain a more in-depth knowledge of the students’ perceptions regarding the hybrid learning experiment, particularly as far as the contents, organisation and management of the course are concerned.  

8. Conclusion

In this paper, we described a mind mapping-based methodology to help students develop public speaking and consecutive interpreting skills. The concept of mind mapping was easily grasped by the students, and they soon began using mind maps as a technique for note-taking. Keeping in mind that our students are not interpreting students – but rather third-year undergraduates in Applied Languages –, we aimed primarily at equipping them with knowledge and techniques that allowed them not only to understand and memorise speeches in a more efficient way, but also to express themselves more accurately and skilfully in writing and orally.  

The nature of the tasks completed by the students as part of this methodology was quite diverse (documentary research, mind mapping, text writing, delivering and reproducing, recording themselves), introducing them to a wide array of digital tools. As a corollary of this diversity, students developed their multimodal literacy skills in terms of reception and production (Lacelle, Boutin and Lebrun, 2017). In fact, as mentioned by many students during classes, this outcome reflected positively in other areas of their lives, and they regretted that this course should be taught only at the third and final year of their degree.  

With regard to mind mapping, the students’ positive feedback prompted the development of a software application which helps planning text writing through mind mapping. planTEXT is the result of a collaboration between the Institute for Arts and Humanities and the Electronic Engineering Department of the University of Minho. It is more than a mind mapping software in that it combines different views that guide the user through all the stages of the writing process, from planning, to the actual writing and final revision (Lopes, Castro and Araújo, 2018). A prototype of this software programme has already been used in some courses at the University of Minho, and the results obtained hitherto have been encouraging.  

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Notes

[1] Available at http://popplet.com/.

[2] Available at https://coggle.it/.

[5] Available at https://padlet.com/.

[8] We remind the reader that the speechmaking stage in class required the teacher to provide a speech (see figure 7).

[9] When the interpreting exercise was done in class, students used headphones.

[10] Please note that we are dealing with Module III here (see top left-hand corner of figure 9), which means that the speeches provided by the teacher were in a foreign language (English, Spanish or French). This was the only opportunity that students had to produce speech in a language other than their native one. Another mural was created for Module II, dedicated to intralingual training, where the teacher posted speeches in Portuguese.

[11] Recording available at goo.gl/6zJZ9H.

[12] Recording available at goo.gl/q4qJcL.

[13] Recording available at goo.gl/8x9GC2.

[14] Recording available at goo.gl/D9NbNi.

[15] Recording available at goo.gl/FR89CB.

[16] Recording available at goo.gl/PnQV6c.

[17] The use of glossaries also applied to out-of-class consecutive interpreting exercises (see 5.2.).

[18] In each group, each student had to produce at least one source speech and one target speech (that is, interpretation).

[19] In the first years, the interpreting exercises were conducted in class, where each student had to interpret a speech for the rest of their peers. After listening to three or four interpretations, most of them became bored and used their smartphones as a means of distraction.  

About the author(s)

Sílvia Araújo concluded her PhD in Language Sciences / Romance Linguistics in 2008 at the University of Minho / Université Paris 7 - Denis Diderot. She is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Romance Studies of the University of Minho. Her main research interests are corpus linguistics, technologies applied to languages and digital humanities. Related to these areas, she has coordinated projects funded by FCT (Perfide, PortLinguE) and the Support Program for Innovation and Development of Teaching and Learning, IDEA-UMinho (Active and Collaborative Learning Scenarios with Digital Tools). Since 2008, she has conducted accredited training sessions on the pedagogical integration of technologies at different levels of education (basic, secondary and higher education). She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Master’s Degree in Translation and Multilingual Communication, Director of the Master’s Degree in Digital Humanities since February 2020, as well as the Coordinator of the Digital Humanities Research Group of the Center for Humanistic Studies of the University of Minho. She is the director of digital humanities journal H2D, co-editor of French studies journal Myriades, member of the editorial board of psychology journal PSIQUE, and of the scientific committee of the journal of letters Polissema. Furthermore, she coordinates the techLING annual international conference, devoted to the application of technology to languages and linguistics, which will reach its fifth edition in 2020.

Ana Correia holds an undergraduate degree in Applied Foreign Languages from the University of Minho (2006). From 2010 to 2013 she worked as a research assistant for the corpus compilation project “Per-Fide - Portuguese in parallel with six languages: Español, Russian, Français, Italiano, Deutsch, English” (ref. no. PTDC/CLE-LLI/108948/2008), jointly developed by the Institute of Arts and Humanities and the Computer Science Department of the University of Minho. Currently, she is a PhD student in Language Sciences, speciality of Applied Linguistics, at the same university. She has received a grant from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology to conduct her PhD project, which is a corpus-based study dealing with pronominal anaphora in simultaneous interpreting (Portuguese and English).

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©inTRAlinea & Sílvia Araújo & Ana Correia (2020).
"Using speechmaking and consecutive interpreting as tools to help students develop writing and public speaking skills: a hybrid teaching methodology based on mind mapping"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Technology in Interpreter Education and Practice
Edited by: Nicoletta Spinolo & Amalia Amato
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL: http://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/2515

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