April 16, 2014

Norwestern plans to offer Spanish translation major

Next fall, a private college in northwest Iowa plans to offer a new major in Spanish translation and interpretation. Northwestern College, in Orange City, will be among only four colleges in the nation to have such a bachelor’s degree program.

Northwestern professor Piet Koene will direct the program, which he says will help meet a growing demand. “This major is targeted at bilingual students who are high school graduates and are interested in the fields of interpretation and/or translation,” Koene says. “They’ll come here, study here for four years, will receive a B.A. in translation and interpretation, Spanish/English, and it will be a liberal arts degree so they’ll also have many courses in many different subject areas.”

The state of Iowa’s court system only has 11 class-A-certified interpreters, and Koene is one of them. He says the major will also provide interpreters and translators for church work, as many U.S. churches seek to extend their ministries to the Spanish-speaking population. Koene says there’s great demand in this field.

“It’s a changing demographic situation here in Iowa, especially in northwest Iowa, but also on the national level, it’s more and more important,” Koene says. “The census this year will tell us exactly how many Hispanics are living in the states and many of them do speak Spanish. There are many first-generation Hispanics so interpretation and translation is just becoming a fact of life here in the U.S.”

Only three other institutions offer this type of program — the University of Arizona, California State University/Long Beach and the University of Texas/Brownsville. Koene says the new program will raise Northwestern’s visibility as it will be the only college outside the southwestern U.S. to offer this major, and it’s the only Christian college in the nation to do so.

“There are many students, or the families of students, who are not that interested in having students go to a large university,” Koene says. “They want the attention, the care, of a smaller college and then, their only choice would be Northwestern if they’re interested in this field.” To learn more, visit: “www.nwciowa.edu“.