Diploma in Legal Interpreting


Program Description

Change a life with your language!

The Diploma in Legal Interpreting, which is accredited by SASSETA, is aimed at upgrading language practitioners’ skills in interpreting and thereby improving their career prospects.

Who should attend?

Aspiring and professional court interpreters.

Admission Requirements

These courses have been designed for individuals with:

  • Good language skills in English (spoken and written)
  • Good language proficiency (spoken or signed) in at least one other language from the following list of languages: Any of the official South African languages, South African Sign Language, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, Mandarin. Other foreign languages on request
  • A National Senior Certificate (Grade 12) or equivalent
  • Basic computer literacy (Word, internet, YouTube, and email)

Students must pass an aptitude test in order to gain admission.

Program Structure

The interpreting short courses run for eight weeks part-time. During the eight weeks, participants must attend face-to-face workshops, which follow the following format:

  • Three x two-day workshops, followed by the examination
  • Evening classes twice a week for 12 weeks, followed by the examination (according to demand)

The short courses in English run for 10 weeks part-time on Saturday mornings. Based on the aptitude test, certain English language courses may be required in order to complete the diploma. These courses are presented on Saturdays and are to be taken concurrently with the Interpreting courses. Dates and times for these courses are available on request.

All candidates are required to sit a one-hour written English pre-assessment test, to determine the starting level of each candidate's English proficiency. This assessment is included in the fee for the first English course and must be paid in full prior to the assessment. A further online interpreting aptitude test is required. This, however, is free of charge. Should a candidate require additional English training in order to reach the required level, recommendations for additional courses will be made, based on the outcome of the pre-assessment test. In addition to this, participants in all of the short courses have access to an online learning platform, Edmodo, during the entire teaching period. Edmodo is easy to use, allows students to work in their own time, and also helps to improve knowledge of the internet and email, which are important skills in the world of work.

Program Content

The program consists of a set of short courses and a total of 247 credits, all of which are aligned to NQF Unit standards as set by SAQA. The program duration is one year.

The core short courses are as follows:

  • Introduction to Interpreting Skills
  • Liaison Interpreting in Specific Contexts
  • Language Refinement for Language Practitioners
  • Intercultural Communication & Mentoring in the Workplace
  • Law Theory for Interpreters
  • Legal interpreting skills

Based on the aptitude test, additional courses may be required to meet the exit requirements of the program. It is the responsibility of the student to register for the correct intake of each course to be taken including any additional courses as determined by the aptitude test. Take note that Liaison Interpreting can only be taken after completion of Introduction to Interpreting Skills. Similarly, Legal Interpreting can only be taken after completion of Liaison Interpreting and Law Theory for Interpreters.

Introduction to interpreting skills

This course is offered at NQF level 5 and aims to equip students with no prior formal interpreting training with interpreting skills at a community-based level, as well as to enhance linguistic and cultural knowledge and improve their ability to reflect on the process of interpreting in the South African context.

Liaison interpreting in specific contexts

This short course is offered at NQF level 5 to participants who have passed Introduction to Interpreting Skills. Topics covered include conversational interaction and strategies, turn taking and power relations, stress management, emotional intelligence, conflict management, powerful communication (leading and pacing) and managing interaction with clients in at least two contexts, which may include business, health-care, education and legal interpreting. This course is a must for any interpreter working in stressful situations.

Language refinement for language practitioners

This short course, offered at NQF level 5, is suitable for anyone with good proficiency in a South African language, South African Sign Language or any major world language. In their chosen language, participants will develop the required skills to use language creatively and effectively in specific professional contexts (eg marketing, law and media) or other language-related project management situations. Emphasis is placed on the acquisition of listening and speaking skills in a variety of professional contexts, including terminology acquisition and cultural competence. Skills include subtitling, transcription and the writing of copy for marketing or advertising purposes.

English: Communicative grammar (if required based on aptitude test)

This short course, equips candidates with the tools to identify and construct cohesive links within a given text; identify and create relevant sentence structures appropriate to the purpose of the text (simple, compound and complex sentences; dependent and independent clauses); identify and apply correct register in written texts; write paragraphs correctly structured for their purpose, which include a relevant topic sentence, supporting sentences and concluding sentence; identify the main parts of speech and the function associated with each of them; apply relevant verb tenses for active and stative structures; use appropriate connectors and draft and edit their own texts.

English: Business writing (if required based on aptitude test)

Business Writing looks at composing and structuring several business-related texts, such as emails, formal letters, memos, minutes and proposals. Each section examines what kind of language to use, how to distinguish between formal and informal language and how to create cohesion or flow in your writing. The course also looks at self- editing as a vital part of the writing process and teaches how editing can result in clearer, impersonal and more precise texts.

English: Presentation skills (if required based on aptitude test)

The purpose of this course is to expose you to the content and format of presentations in English. This course is aimed at professionals who need to give presentations in English. By the end of this course, you will be able to prepare and give a presentation in English using visuals.

Intercultural communication and mentoring in the workplace

The purpose of this short course is to assist students in understanding human communication in multi-cultural settings – with a particular focus on the mass media and/ or the workplace. Participants learn to come to terms with diversity in South Africa and how to reduce intercultural misunderstandings. Students discuss communication in the context of the world of business and management, including organizational functions and meeting styles, management activities (planning, organizing, leading, controlling, interacting), powerful communication, pacing and leading, motivation, as well as conflict management and mentoring in the workplace.

Law theory for interpreters

This online course aims to equip aspiring court interpreters with the required law theory so that they are able to work professionally in legal contexts with a full understanding of the legal implications of their actions. The course examines the court process as a whole: evidence, jurisdiction, criminal and civil court procedure, elements of a crime and many other important aspects of the legal system. This knowledge, along with the associated terminology, is crucial for the court interpreter. This course constitutes the first part of Legal Interpreting Skills and must be passed first, before registering for Legal Interpreting Skills.

Legal interpreting skills

This course builds on the Law Theory for Interpreters course. The purpose of this course is to equip practitioners who have some experience in interpreting with legal interpreting skills, as well as to enhance their knowledge of law theory as it relates to the South African legal context. Legal interpreting is a complex process that requires specialized training in interpreting techniques, litigation tactics, legal language and the legal system.

What are the required student numbers per course?

There should be a minimum of 10 students for each course. WLS reserves the right to postpone or cancel a course should there be insufficient participants. Please check our website - www.witslanguageschool.com - for any changes in course dates.


  • Students receive certificates of competence for the individual short courses if completed successfully.
  • After completing all required short courses successfully, a Diploma in Legal Interpreting will be awarded from the SASSETA.

Course fees*

  • Introduction to interpreting skills - R8,200
  • Liaison interpreting in specific contexts - R8,200
  • Language refinement for language practitioners - R8,200
  • Law theory for interpreters - R7,500
  • Legal interpreting skills - R8,200
  • Intercultural communication and mentoring in the workplace - R8,200

*Based on the aptitude test, additional English courses may be required. Fees for these additional courses available on request.

Last updated Jul 2018

About the School

Wits Language School was established in 1997 and is part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The school offers a wide range of language courses and ser ... Read More

Wits Language School was established in 1997 and is part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The school offers a wide range of language courses and services, namely: African, Asian & European languages, English as a foreign language, English as a second language, language teacher education and translation & interpreting services and courses. Due to the demand from public and private organizations, the Wits Language School also offers in-house corporate language courses which are designed around an organization’s specific needs. We also provide language policy advising to organizations. Wits Language School takes pride in the quality of its highly-qualified personnel, excellent service and the high standard of its language courses that are based on sound research and academic principles. All language courses are taught by mother-tongue speakers. Read less