BetweenLanguages - Quality Standards for the Qualification of Community Interpreters in the Field of Social Work

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In cooperation with the International Association for Education – Culture – Participation (Internationalen Gesellschaft für Bildung – Kultur – Partizipation; a.k.a. BiKuP), located in Cologne, Germany, and the Christian social service organisation Diakonie in Hamburg, Germany, quality standards are to be developed for the qualification of community interpreters in the field of social work who work with refugees and asylum seekers.

Sponsor: The European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF)

Funding Period: 24 months (2016/07 – 2018/06)

Keywords: quality standards, qualification, community interpreters, refugees, asylum seekers, social work

Project Description

Within the context of the EU-sponsored research project „ZwischenSprachen“ („BetweenLanguages“) quality standards are to be developed for the qualification of community interpreters in the field of social work who have contact to refugees and asylum seekers.

On the basis of scientific standards and processes, expert-based competence areas and relevant aspects of the structure and process quality will be developed for curricular measures. The purpose of these measures is to serve as a compass for the professionalisation of community interpreting in the field of social work in Germany.

The development of quality criteria will be based on a comprehensive data base. Alongside systematic research of the qualification programmes offered both domestically and internationally for community interpreters as well as the corresponding scientific publications, focus groups and interviews will be conducted systematically in North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg with important various individuals who are active in the field of social work and community interpreting. Through these focus groups and interviews, the challenges involved in community interpreting within the context of social care and support provided to refugees and asylum seekers will be brought to light, in order to provide insight into the topics that should be addressed in training programmes for community interpreters working in this field. More specifically, the focus groups will target professionals and volunteers involved in social work, paid and unpaid community interpreters, professionally certified community language and integration facilitators and refugees, in order to gather information about the demands of this field from the perspectives of those who are involved first-hand. In addition to these focus groups, interviews will be conducted with individuals who work in supervisory roles at a variety of relevant institutions, refugees and experts in related fields. The data gathered by means of these focus groups and interviews will then be evaluated by applying Mayring’s (2000) qualitative content analysis.

Using the research and the data collected through the focus groups and interviews as a basis, a panel of experts from relevant sciences, (community) interpreting, intercultural and migration studies, social work, government agencies and organisations will convene in order to discuss and define guidelines for the training of community interpreters in this field according to the Delphi-Method (Häder, 2006). An advisory board consisting of strategic partners will guide and support this project throughout the entire process.

Members of the Core Project Team

Operational Partners

  • Internationale Gesellschaft für Bildung – Kultur – Partizipation (BiKuP) (English: International Association for Education – Culture – Participation)
    Widdersdorfer Straße 248 – 252
    50933 Cologne, Germany
  • Diakonisches Werk Hamburg, Fachbereich Migrations- und Frauensozialarbeit Hilfswerk (English: Christian social service organisation, department of migration and women’s social work)
    Königstraße 54
    22767 Hamburg, Germany


  • Mayring P. (2000). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Grundlagen und Techniken. 7. Aufl., Weinheim: Deutscher Studien Verlag.
  • Häder, M. (2006). Empirische Sozialforschung. Eine Einführung. Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften: Wiesbaden.