UniSIM To Pilot Certification Examination With The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Diplomatic Academy

UniSIM will be launching a Certification Examination for Professional Interpreters (CEPI) to raise the standards of professionalism in the industry and to recognise the competence of professional interpreters. The UniSIM CEPI is the first certification system for interpreters in Singapore. 

Under the pilot launch in the 4th quarter of 2008, diplomatic officers from the MFA will be the first to be tested and certified. The Certification Examination will be open to the public from May 2009. This programme will be of interest to some 500 fulltime and 550 part-time interpreters and translators currently practising in Singapore. The demand for skilled professionals in this area continues to be on an upward trend. 

"Currently, there is no professional body in Singapore to certify interpreters and translators. With this certification, UniSIM hopes to build up a talent pool of multilingual and multicultural communicators who are key players in Singapore's unique role as a gateway between the east and the west," said Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, UniSIM. 

"Over the years, UniSIM has inherited and developed niche expertise in the academic field of language, interpretation and translation. We hope to establish ourselves as a centre of excellence for adult language learning in Singapore," added Professor Cheong. 

Mr Ho Cheok Sun, Dean of the MFA Diplomatic Academy said, "We are pleased that UniSIM has taken on the challenge of developing a certification standard that is tailored for the Singapore translation and interpretation industry. We are confident that the development of the UniSIM certification will be a success and we are proud to be part of this project." 

An Examination Advisory Committee will be established by UniSIM to review the examination's design, implementation, content and effectiveness. Members of the Examination Advisory Committee are drawn from experienced assessment specialists, academics and expert interpreters. Members include: 

  • Professor Eddie Kuo, Founding Dean (1992 to 2003) of the NTU Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, a member of the national Translation and Interpretation Steering Committee and a former member of NTU council (2003 to 2006) 
  • Mr Lau Ping Sum, Executive Director, PAP and PAP Community Foundation, former Member of Parliament and part-time interpreter for Parliament (1967 to 1980) 
  • Mr Lee Hui Huan, former Chief Interpreter of Parliament (retired January 2007) and the first Singaporean member of International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC)

Mr Lau Ping Sum noted, "Although bilingual education has been implemented in Singapore for nearly 40 years, Singapore still faces a shortage of qualified interpreters who can do simultaneous or consecutive interpretation at a high level. With globalisation and the emergence of China, there is a strong demand for professional interpreters who can facilitate international communication in the region including Singapore. The Certification Examination of Professional Interpreters will help to raise the standard of interpretation and identify and develop a talent pool of professional interpreters in Singapore." 

The UniSIM CEPI will be launched with the language pair of English and Chinese. There are plans to extend the CEPI to English and Tamil, and English and Malay if there is a good demand for it. 


A S$20 billion Industry

The interpretation and translation industry is worth over S$20 billion worldwide. The local market is a high-growth sector valued at more than S$8 million annually, employing 500 full-time and 550 part-time or freelance interpreters and translators1. Most do not have formal training which requires more than proficiency in the relevant languages. Qualified interpreters and translators will be able to communicate with the appropriate linguistic, cultural and social subtleties. 

While some of the current practitioners are very skilful in their craft, there is a shortfall of qualified interpreters and translators. Multilingualism has been a key reason behind the economic and diplomatic success of Singapore and there is a need to maintain this competitive edge especially with increased globalisation. Demand for more skilled interpreters is also set to increase significantly as Singapore gears up to be a leading venue for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions), healthcare and education services. The Government is taking the lead in ensuring that proper recognition is accorded to the industry. In MFA for example, diplomatic officers receive an allowance if they maintain proficiency in languages for purposes of work. 


UniSIM - Centre of Excellence for Adult Learning in Language Studies

UniSIM has been offering a diploma in translation since 2003. In 2007, the University launched the Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpretation (BATI), the only local undergraduate programme of its kind. BATI adopts a three-cluster approach emphasising language proficiency, translation and interpretation and incorporates learner-centred e-learning tools in the delivery. The programme seeks to raise the overall level of professional and quality of the translation and interpretation industry and to enhance global competitiveness of Singapore. To this end, UniSIM entered into a partnership with the Beijing Foreign Studies University, the leading institution for language learning in China, to exchange expertise, resources, and students to support the growing demand for bicultural communicators. Students from the BATI programme will be encouraged to undertake the certification. 

Through its partnership with the Beijing Normal University since 1999, UniSIM has also been offering a degree and masters programme in Chinese Language and Literature. The masters programme is the only such part-time programme in Singapore. 

UniSIM also offers degree programmes in English Language and Literature, and Tamil Language and Literature. 


MOU Signing Ceremony

Associate Professor Neelam Aggarwal, Dean of UniSIM's School of Arts and Social Sciences, and Mr Ho Cheok Sun, Dean of MFA Diplomatic Academy, will be the signatories at the MOU signing ceremony between UniSIM and MFA Diplomatic Academy to mark the pilot launch of the Certification Examination.

You and your camera crew/photographer are cordially invited to attend the ceremony:

Date: 7 May 2008
Time: 3:00 PM (registration to start at 2:30 PM)
Venue: SIM HQ, 461 Clementi Road, Level 5 Staff Lounge, Singapore 599491 (beside Maju camp)

1  Speech by Mr Lim Swee Say, Deputy Secretary-General, NTUC, and Minister, Prime Minister's Office, at the "Globalised Economies, Globalised Languages – The Importance of Translation" Seminar, at NTUC Centre on 10 May 2005.



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