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Dean, Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education

Laura Burian
McCone Building M205
(831) 647-3554

Laura Burian is the Dean of the Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education, Chair of the Translation and Interpretation Program, and Professor of Chinese/ English translation and interpretation.

After graduating from the Institute’s Chinese Translation and Interpretation program in the 1990s, Dean Burian moved to China where she first served as Assistant Director of the Duke Study in China Program, then became an in-house Chinese/English translator/interpreter/legal assistant in the Beijing office of a New York law firm, and then became a freelancer. She maintains a dynamic portfolio of high-profile translation and interpretation clients in both the public and private sector.

After joining the faculty at MIIS in 2000, Dean Burian received several prestigious teaching awards, including the Eliason Teacher of Excellence Award and the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award. Her pedagogy aims to inspire her students to quickly become full partners in shaping the trajectory of their own professional and personal development.

Dean Burian is also deeply engaged in school service, having served two terms as Faculty Senate President, and is a frequently invited guest speaker at conferences, workshops, and seminars worldwide. Her TEDx talk (co-presented with MIIS Professor Barry Olsen) is often used as a primer for students, teacher, and end-users of translation and interpretation, and earned a TED “Editor’s Pick” accolade in 2014.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

Introduces students to conference interpretation in general and consecutive interpretation in particular. Lays a foundation for the development of professional skills in consecutive interpretation, emphasizing the ability to understand and analyze a message in the source language (SL) and convey it in the target language (TL) in a straightforward and clear manner. Develops students’ ability to identify, analyze, and paraphrase the meaning in the SL and establish logical relations between its components. Emphasis is placed on active listening and concentration skills, memory, the ability to abstract information for subsequent recall, and basic elements of note-taking. At the end of the course, students are able to interpret extemporaneous passages that are on topics familiar to them and are between three and five minutes in length.

In language-specific sessions and joint sessions with other language programs, students are introduced to the skill of consecutive interpreting in both theory and practice. They practice listening to and repeating the content of passages of increasing length and difficulty. Students hone their public-speaking skills by developing and delivering speeches. Content is interpreted on topics from daily life, current events and the media, and general areas of personal interest to students.

Course assignments include readings and research on class topics, presentations, practice, graded exercises, and peer and self-assessment. 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

View in Course Catalog

Intermediate Interpretation – Consecutive and Simultaneous

Builds on the practical and theoretical foundation laid in Introduction to Interpretation. Consists of both language-specific and joint sessions with other language programs.

In consecutive, students learn to identify the implicit structural organization of an extemporaneous speech by presenting and interpreting speeches of this type. Reinforces ability to perceive essential meaning and further develops note-taking techniques. Emphasizes clarity of expression, correct style and grammar, proper diction, and polished presentation. Students also expand their active vocabulary to include the terms and idioms that frequently occur in extemporaneous speeches. At the end of the course, students are able to interpret passages that are delivered extemporaneously, are of moderate difficulty, and are derived from professional settings. These passages vary from one to several paragraphs in length depending upon language combination, direction, and source content.

In simultaneous, students are introduced to basic strategies of interpreting in this mode in the booth. Begins with a general introduction and follows up with a series of preparatory exercises helping students develop the concentration necessary for listening and speaking at the same time, mastering voice management, and acquiring smooth delivery techniques. Students learn to analyze discourse for meaning while rendering a coherent version in the TL with correct grammar, diction and style. At the end of the course, students are able to interpret passages that are between eight and ten minutes in length.

Content on a wide range of topics and current events is interpreted, with some emphasis placed on business and economics. Course assignments include readings and research on class topics, presentations, practice, graded exercises, and peer and self-assessment. The frequency, nature, and structure of course assignments and examinations are at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record.

Course prerequisites: Introduction to Interpretation or the equivalent

Spring 2018 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Facilitates the transition from the classroom to the first professional assignment by offering students a wide range of interpretation experiences. Advanced interpreting students become comfortable with working in settings in which different modes of interpretation are called for and where relay interpretation is the norm. Students provide simultaneous and consecutive interpretation at Monterey Institute public events and taped conferences, for Institute interdisciplinary courses, and as part of community outreach; they also work intensively together in multilingual practice groups during the semester. Reinforces the concept of reflective practice, requiring students to evaluate their own performance as well as that of their peers. Students are expected to complete an interpretation portfolio.

Fall 2017 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

Aware that today’s translation and interpretation markets are ultra-dynamic, Dean Burian is determined to maintain her professional currency so that she can share new insights and trends with her students. Her recent translations include corporate legal documents, academic papers, and texts on Chinese culture. Her recent interpretation assignments include conferences on new internet technologies and energies, venture capital, paleontology, human rights, education and government.
Dean Burian’s research interests center around expertise acquisition, effective pedagogical approaches for the consecutive and simultaneous interpretation classroom, and learner autonomy. As an accomplished violinist, she enjoys drawing on musical analogies to make her teaching more meaningful.

Academic Degrees

  • MA in Translation and Interpretation, Monterey Institute of International Studies 
  • BA in Comparative Area Studies, Duke University
  • Study abroad: National Taiwan Normal University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Nanjing University

Dean  Burian has been teaching at the Institute since 2000.

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