Researchers have long been interested in the effects of anxiety or stress on interpretation performance (Alexieva, 1997; Cooper, Davis et al., 1982; Coughlin, 1988; Gile, 1995; Herbert, 1952; Keiser, 1977; Klonowicz, 1991, 1994; Moser-Mercer, Kunzli et al., 1998; Moser-Mercer, 2003; Roland, 1982; Seleskovitch, 1978 as quoted in Chiang, 2010). Chiang (2010) found that the student interpreters’ anxiety had a significant negative correlation with their interpreting performance suggesting that those who could better control their anxiety outperformed others in the task of interpreting.
Al-Salman and Al-Khanji (2002, p. 608) claim that the challenging task of interpretation requires:
[…] various types of both linguistic and non-linguistic skills: mastery of the active language, solid background of general knowledge, some personal qualities like the faculty of analysis and synthesis, the ability to intuit meaning, the capacity to adapt immediately to change in subject matter and different speakers and situations. Other qualities include the need to have good short and long term memory, the ability to concentrate, a gift for public speaking, and physical endurance and good nerves.
The interpreting students surveyed in the study by Shaw et al. (2004, p. 83), “identified confidence as the primary personality characteristic for dealing with the stress of a highly rigorous interpreting program.” Other features considered necessary were being self-motivated, self-reliant, independent, tenacious, fearless, determined, ambitious, and goal-oriented.
All the observations quoted above from different researchers provide enough evidence to make one believe that the type of personality (extro/introversion among other things) can affect interpreting performance. In what follows we will briefly touch upon these two psychological concepts.
In Jungian psychology, two main aspects to personality are distinguished: attitude (extroversion and introversion), and function (thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting). Jung maintained that “people adopt different orientations and attitudes toward life and use different psychological processes or functions to make sense of their experiences.” (Ryckman, 2000, p. 29) Combining these attitudes and functions in a theoretical framework of personality types, he discussed the ways in which introverts and extroverts deal with different situations in their lives.
Explicating the attitudes in Jungian psychology, Hall and Gardner (1978, p. 125) write: “The extraverted attitude orients the person toward the external, objective world; the introverted attitude orients the person toward the inner, subjective world.” The important point to remember is that these two opposing attitudes are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are both present in the personality; one is dominant while the other is subordinate. The idea is echoed in Ryckman (2000, pp. 90-91):
Jung points out that people are not purely introverted or extroverted; rather, each person has both introverted and extroverted aspects. Moreover, both attitudes involve complex variations, including dominant characteristics (conscious) and inferior characteristics (unconscious).
Sartain et al. (1962, pp. 129-130) have pinpointed some of the major features associated with extroverted and introverted attitudes:
In the extrovert, according to Jung, we have an individual whose decisions and actions are determined primarily by objective relationships and not by subjective values. His attention and interest are centered on the immediate environment […]. He is an objective, reality-oriented individual […]. The introvert, on the other hand, is governed by subjective factors and subjective values. What he does tends to be guided by his own ideas, by absolute standards. He tends to lack flexibility and to adjust to his own inner values. Thus the introvert tends to be subjectively, instead of objectively oriented.
It is clear from this observation, and many more which we have to skip for time and space considerations, that the activity of the extrovert is directed outwards to the external world while that of the introvert is directed inwards upon themselves. The introvert is typically the shy, reticent, contemplative person who prefers solitude and the inner life of ideas and imagination whereas the extrovert is characteristically the aggressive, outgoing, sociable, active person who would rather be surrounded by others.
These explanations point to interesting similarities between extroversion and interpersonal intelligence on the one hand, and introversion and intrapersonal intelligence on the other. Indeed it seems to be the case that to a great extent, though not fully perhaps, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences are the MI counterparts for extroversion and introversion respectively.
3.1 Chapter Overview
The present chapter outlines the methodology which was used to conduct this study. It starts by introducing the type of research and the components of the experiment; these include the experimental group subjects, the control group subjects, the treatment involved and the instruments utilized. It will then proceed to expound on data collection and analysis procedures.
3.2 Type of Research
There are different classifications proposed by various scholars of research types in the literature. Naturally enough, each classification views research types from a different perspective, hence the adoption of different criteria for the purpose of classification. We will now try to locate the present work in this network of different research types.
Regarding ‘aim’ as the criterion, any research could be either (1) fundamental, (2) applied, or (3) developmental. Similarly, Saldanha and O’Brien (2013) speak of basic research versus applied research. To them,
[…] basic research is generally understood to mean fundamental research, the primary aim of which is to acquire new knowledge. Applied research is generally understood to mean research on practical problems, research that has an application in life. (p. 15)
Chesterman and Williams (2002) have proposed a two-fold classification in this regard: conceptual vs. empirical. In view of the fact that it adopts a mainly pedagogical orientation and uses data collected before and after the researcher’s intervention, our study is an applied one (to use Saldanha and O’Brien’s taxonomy), or an empirical one (to use Chesterman and Williams’ typology).
Considering ‘time’ as the distinguishing factor, there are two main typologies: a three-fold one (historical, survey, and experimental), as well as a two-fold one (retrospective vs. prospective). The present study is an experimental and/or prospective one.
Based upon the data used and the way it is obtained and analyzed, studies fall within one of the two categories of ‘experimental’ and ‘descriptive’ (experimental vs. observational/natural, to borrow Chesterman and Williams’ typology). The distinguishing line here is whether it involves any active intervention by the researcher or not. Should the researcher make any active intervention and manipulation in the process of data collection (provide some kind of treatment, control certain factors etc.), the study is an ‘experimental’ one. On the other hand, if he remains as a mere observer/collector/describer/analyzer, the study is a ‘descriptive’ one (‘observational/natural’ according to Chesterman and Williams’ (2002) terminology). It goes without saying that the present study is an experimental one.
The purpose of the present work was to investigate the effects of teaching certain techniques on the trainee interpreters’ performance improvement in simultaneous interpreting. In what follows, the participants taking part, the treatment they received and the instruments made use of will be elaborated on.
Initially, a total of one hundred and two subjects participated in the present study. They were all senior students of English translation, meaning that they had already been introduced into their translation-specific courses, had done a number of such courses, and were doing a number of others. They were placed in two groups: the experimental group and the control group.
188.8.131.52 Experimental Group
The experimental group consisted of forty eight students doing an undergraduate degree in the field of English translation at Allameh Tabataba’i University in Tehran. The group consisted of both male and female participants (to control the age factor) ranging in age from twenty to twenty five.
184.108.40.206 Control Group
This group of participants consisted of fifty four students of English translation doing an undergraduate degree at Azad University of Karaj. Like the participants in the experimental group, they were senior students (including both male and female ones) within the same age range.
Participants in both groups did two courses under the titles of ‘interpreting 2’ and ‘interpreting 3’, which is part of their academic program in order to get a bachelor’s degree in English Translation. Every course lasted one academic semester, that is to say, about four months and there was one session (two hours) of contact on a weekly basis. So the experiment took two semesters (approximately one year) measuring up to a total of 64 hours of training in class.
During this time, participants in the experimental group were taught in these two courses by the researcher. They were exposed to a number of exercises which are specific to interpreter training. These include ‘shadowing’, ‘sight translation’, ‘improvisation’, ‘anticipation’, ‘(simultaneous) paraphrasing’, ‘divided attention (or split attention) exercises’ etc. Such exercises are thought to prepare the trainees for the mentally burdensome task of