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NM: Multilingual Interpreting Program Aims to Aid Courts, Health Care

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

  • By: Bonnie Gordon
  • Organization: The University of New Mexico Today

Multilingual speakers can enhance their language abilities while earning certificates in medical interpreting, justice system interpreting and bilingual communication through the New Mexico Center for Language Access, which begins accepting students this fall. The program is managed by UNM-Los Alamos in collaboration with Doña Ana Community College and Central New Mexico Community College.

Photo: Los Alamos Executive Director Cedric Page

Chief Justice Edward Chávez of the New Mexico Supreme Court said, “The Center for Language Access will help the justice system and other public agencies ensure that all New Mexico citizens have equal access to services regardless of their English language ability. Equally important, the center’s programs will offer a wonderful opportunity for those multilingual citizens among us to leverage their language abilities into a professional career.”

The NMCLA will use a hybrid online and face-to-face learning model to ensure access across the state. Programs include Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, Navajo and American Sign Language. Assignments and mentoring with language experts and working professionals in each target language and on-the-job internships will round out students’ experience.

“New Mexico now has the only online training program for interpreters that includes languages other than Spanish in the United States,” said UNM-LA Dean of Instruction Kate Massengale, who served on the team that developed the NMCLA.

“The New Mexico Center for Language Access is impressive in the degree of collaboration and commitment by our public agencies and higher education institutions to serve the needs of New Mexicans engaged with our judicial and health care systems,” said UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page. “We encourage service among our students and among our faculty. What better example of service than this endeavor?”

There is a great need for qualified interpreters around the state, especially in rural areas, said Artie Pepin, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. “More than 40 languages were spoken in our courts over the past year.”

For more information visit: N.M> Center for Language Access, nmcenterforlanguageaccess.unm.edu/

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