The Integrated Model of Interpreting (IMI) is rooted in Seleskovitch who takes the position that message equivalence can only be achieved by looking beyond form for meaning. IMI evolved by explicating specific cognitive, social, cultural, linguistic, contextual, and psychological factors that impact the interpretation process. The success of this model I believe lies in the pedagogy--based on the theories and work of Lev Vygotsky-- that supports the learning (as opposed to the teaching) of interpretation. If you and our field as a whole believe that the interpretation task involves a myriad of decisions involving problem-solving strategies, personal reflection, insight, and a robust bicultural/multicultural perspective of the world are necessary, then a shift in our educational practices would be in order.

The IMI, which up until recently was called the Colonomos Model, has been "taught" in Interpreter Preparation Programs and other formats for many years, does not appear to be learned or applied to the degree necessary for it to result in quality interpretations. This supports the position that teaching the model in traditional academic contexts alone does not result in shifting interpreters' understanding and approach to the task. There is an unspoken/underlying assumption that offering abstract concepts and factual information leads to development of higher cognition that directly informs students' development as interpreters. The past 30+ years have repeatedly revealed that for most of the current generation of young students, this is a fallacy. It is not reasonable to believe that recent High School graduates have enough experience and practice with these higher cognitive tasks to successfully interpret.

Since 1984, I have been attempting to write a textbook about this model and have struggled with the inability to achieve what I intended. I’ve come to realize that writing a textbook for instructional purposes would have violated my commitment to demonstrating this model in the seminars and retreats I have been offering to interpreters.

Vygotskyan approaches to learning are found in numerous progressive schools throughout the country. See the work of James Wertsch, Michael Cole, and others for more information. I am not aware of any university program that allows for this type of learning environment where activity, dialogue, practice, reflection, and scaffolding are the pathways to discovery and cognitive growth. Publishing a textbook or curriculum following the current academic paradigm would only serve to sabotage the good standing of IMI and the work we are doing.

Many who have participated frequently in seminars and retreats where I’ve modeled this approach have applied it in their work with peers, creating communities of practice engaged in a grassroots movement that changes the way we talk about our work as interpreters. Currently, I am discussing the possibility of collaborating with some of those who use IMI in practice and with colleagues to help teachers in training programs work with this model effectively.

The growth and maturity of our profession relies on a committed effort from each of us as professionals to reflect together on the decisions we face and the strategies we implement in our interpreting work. With such a commitment, the interpreting profession has an opportunity to flourish as each of us strives to advance our learning, understanding, and practice.

Here are some visual aids to stimulate your thinking.