There’s an old adage that goes “to be ahead of the curve” which means “to be one of the first to change to a new idea or way of doing something that later becomes generally popular.”[1] These days we are using a different type of curve analogy: “flattening the curve” is an expression about society coming together to slow down the spread of this current coronavirus – COVID-19. Both are good things: to be forward looking and to be in solidarity.

When we started moving our Interpreter Education programs online in 2017, we encountered some reluctance from prospective students about taking an online course. Comments like “I don’t have a fancy computer,” or “I’ve never taken an online course before” or even “I don’t think I am good enough with technology to do it” were very common. But we encouraged our clients and showed them not only how easy it truly is, but how much better it can be. Our courses are what is called Blended Learning, because we blend live, teacher-led instruction with self-directed content (you can find out more here – Frequently Asked Questions) and this enhances the whole learning experience.

With online courses, as opposed to classroom-based programs where students attend in-class lessons, students are given a student manual or handouts, and then left to their own devices.  We connect you to external resources – like speech depositories, online tools and videos – and to experts from other parts of the world (something which was not possible in the older model of programs). Not only that, students can keep coming back to their secure student portal to revisit the lessons, as well as the RECORDINGS of each lesson, whether or not the student missed the lesson. This access is open for a period of 3 months from the time the course begins. The learning continues at the student’s own pace, (something which is not typical of the on-site, classroom based courses)

“I always thought old school concept was better, but I never knew online class is going to be the best.”
TIL student – 2020

After 2 years and over 200 students later, we can definitely say that moving online was the best decision we made, and given the current situation, we were definitely ahead of the curve. But who could foresee such a tragic and historic event? We simply wanted to make programs and courses more easily accessible for our students and now we find that online is how the world is connecting – it’s the new normal.

At a recent open Forum we hosted, “What COVID – 19 is Teaching Us: An Open Forum on the Effects and Impacts of Crisis on Interpreters” — we wanted to focus on the current situation as not only a time of great stress and anxiety, but also as an opportunity for learning, preparing and looking toward the future. The exchange of questions, ideas and feedback that emerged from the discussion inspired us to create a COVID-19 RESOURCE PAGE for interpreters — we will be periodically updating this page and welcome any resources you’d like to share with us so that we can share with others.

Planning, learning something new, and preparing for the future are all ways to overcome the disquiet and uneasy feelings caused by these uncertain times. And although we still have some challenging times ahead, we also have seen some progress for which we can be thankful – both near and far. Now is a good time to prepare for the future – now that we have been given this gift of downtime and reflection. We want to encourage all of our readers and clients to consider taking an online course or program to keep yourself engaged in learning and in community. While we would love for you to take one of our courses – or maybe even re-take one as a refresher[2], we don’t mean you should take our courses exclusively. On The Interpreter’s Lab COVID-19 RESOURCE PAGE we have listed a number of FREE online courses ranging from medical terminology to philosophy to emotional and physical well-being (also included in this newsletter below).

Take a moment to visit our online Resources Page and consider expanding your skills and knowledge. An informed interpreter is always a better interpreter. As a couple of other old adages go – “luck is preparation meeting opportunity” and “knowledge is power” – so get prepared and empowered to meet the opportunity.


[1] Collins Dictionary online
[2] If you are interested in re-taking a course as a refresher, we can offer a discounted price – contact us for more information. All of The Interpreter’s Lab courses are updated annually – new content – new activities – new learning