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Adjunct Professor of Professional Practice

Holly Mikkelson, Professor of Professional Practice, has been a member of the GSTILE faculty, either as an adjunct or full-time, since 1976. Her main areas of specialization are Spanish/English legal translation and court interpreting, though she has taught general classes in both translation and interpreting at MIIS. She has been a practicing court interpreter and legal translator since 1976, and is certified as an interpreter in state and federal courts. She is also certified as a translator by the American Translators Association (ATA), and is currently a grader for the ATA certification exam. 
Professor Mikkelson created the acclaimed Acebo training manuals for court interpreters. She is the sole author of Introduction to Court Interpreting (Routledge, 2016) and a co-author of Fundamentals of Court Interpretation: Theory, policy and practice (Carolina Academic Press, 2012). She co-edited The Routledge Handbook of Interpreting with Professor Renée Jourdenais in 2015. Her articles have appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals. She has also served as a consultant on court interpreter training and testing, and has testified as an expert witness on court interpreter standards of practice. In 2011 the ATA awarded her the prestigious Alexander Gode Medal for outstanding service to the translation and interpreting professions.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

This course builds on the knowledge acquired in TISP 8633, Introduction to Court Interpreting. Students will practice interpreting court proceedings, interviews and witness testimony in both informal settings and formal court proceedings. The simultaneous interpreting will all be English to Spanish, which reflects the reality of the U.S. courtroom; the consecutive interpreting will be bidirectional, with English questions and Spanish answers, also reflecting actual practice in the U.S. The standards of national certification exams for court interpreting will be explained and applied throughout the semester so that students will be prepared to take those exams upon graduation.

Spring 2018 - MIIS, Spring 2019 - MIIS

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Community Interpreting as a Profession

This online course provides an overview of the profession of community interpreting. Students will learn about the different sectors where interpreters provide services in the community, the legal requirements for guaranteeing language access in public services, the skills and aptitudes interpreters must have to perform this important work, the ethical standards they abide by in their daily practice, and the role of the interpreter as a linguistic mediator between provider and client.

Fall 2017 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop, Fall 2018 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

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Familiarizes students with the techniques and terminology of consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, and the practical considerations particular to judicial and quasi-judicial settings. Attention is given to the registers of speech encountered in typical legal proceedings, including street slang, police jargon, legal terms, and technical testimony. Students learn courtroom protocol, witness control techniques, and review the practical implications of the court interpreter code of ethics. The frequency, nature, and structure of course assignments and examinations are at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record.

Fall 2017 - MIIS, Fall 2018 - MIIS

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Builds on the theoretical and practical foundation laid in Introduction to Translation and introduces the translation of specialized subject matter. Depending upon the language program in which they are enrolled, students will be expected to acquire and demonstrate basic proficiency in the sight and written translation of either commercial and economic texts, legal texts, or scientific and technical texts. The amount of emphasis accorded to a particular topic will depend on the specific professional requirements of each language program. Course assignments will include readings, research, presentations, practice and graded exercises in sight translation, and practice and graded written translation assignments, including exercises in speed translation. Students will also be expected to take at least one midterm and one final exam. The frequency, nature, and structure of course assignments and examinations are largely at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record.

Prerequisite: Introduction to Translation or equivalent background.

Spring 2018 - MIIS

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This course is the counterpart to Advanced Translation I. Students are expected to translate texts of considerable difficulty and complexity and to cope with the types of operational challenges that are likely to be encountered in professional translation settings, such as working in teams or coping with multiple technologies. Emphasis is on particular text categories and subject-matter knowledge that are pertinent to current market demand for the specific language combination and direction in which the course is being taught. The frequency, nature, and structure of course assignments are at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record, but will include projects that simulate, as closely as possible, the professional translation environment, as well as at least one midterm and one final exam.

Prerequisite: Advanced Translation I or similar background.

Spring 2018 - MIIS

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Introduces students to the basic theory and practice of translation, both written and sight. Students will learn to apply text analysis, text typology, and contrastive analysis of their working languages to identify, analyze, and resolve translation problems while independently developing an efficient and rational approach to the process of translation. The appropriate application of electronic translation tools will also be introduced. Fundamental translation theory will be emphasized at the beginning of the course and will be conveyed in the form of assigned readings, lectures, class discussions, and independent research. In addition, course assignments will include practice and graded exercises in sight and written translation, utilizing authentic texts drawn from an extensive variety of text categories that include, but are not limited to, current events, general political economy, general legal documents, and scientific and technical topics for general audiences. As the term progresses, student time and effort will increasingly be spent on the preparation and evaluation of written translation assignments. Students will be expected to take at least one midterm exam and one final exam, to be assigned at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record.

Fall 2017 - MIIS

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This is the first of two complementary courses designed to bring translation knowledge and skills up to the level that would be required of someone working in a professional translation environment. Students will be expected to apply the knowledge and skills acquired during the first-year translation courses to produce translations that meet high standards for content, form, and presentation. A great deal of attention is given to subject matter knowledge and research, precision in text analysis and writing, and the appropriate application of translation technology. Some programs emphasize scientific and technical topics in this course, but others give considerable attention to commercial, economic, legal, and political texts, many of which have a technical component. The frequency, nature, and structure of course assignments and examinations are at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record. Students will, however, be expected to take at least one midterm exam and one final exam.

Prerequisite: 2nd-year student in good standing or equivalent background.

Fall 2017 - MIIS

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Advanced Community Interpreting II

Week One: Dialog interpreting of medical encounters, simultaneous interpreting of meetings, consultations, instructional sessions

Week Two: Consecutive interpreting of interviews and testimony, simultaneous interpreting of arraignments, motions, trial proceedings and testimony

Week Three: Mock Exams

Summer 2017 - MIIS

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Areas of Interest

I love what I do. I am an active professional interpreter and translator, but most importantly, I enjoy sharing with my students the knowledge and expertise acquired over four decades in the profession. I want to help them experience the thrill of giving a voice to someone whose story would not otherwise be told, and of finding just the right way to express an idea or concept. That said, I continue to learn from them, as teaching is definitely a two-way street. I’m constantly striving to improve my pedagogical approaches and to keep up with the latest developments in the profession.


Academic Degrees

  • BA in Sociology from Mills College, 1974
  • MA in Intercultural Communication with a Graduate Certificate in Spanish Translation & Interpretation from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, 1976 

Professor Mikkelson has been teaching at the Institute since 1976.


  • Gonzalez, R.D., Vasquez, V.F. and Mikkelson, H. Fundamentals of Court Interpretation: Theory, policy and practice. 2nd ed. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2012.
  • Baigorri, J. From Paris to Nuremberg: The birth of conference interpreting (translated by Holly Mikkelson and Barry Slaughter Olsen). Amsterdam, New York: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2014.
  • Crezee, I. Mikkelson, H. and Monzon-Storey, L. Introduction to Healthcare for Spanish-speaking Interpreters and Translators. Amsterdam, New York: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2015.
  • Mikkelson, H. and Jourdenais, R. (Eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Interpreting. London and New York: Routledge, 2015.
  • Mikkelson, H. Introduction to Court Interpreting. 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2016.