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Elisabet Tiselius


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Works at The Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 D
Room D 514
Postal address Institutionen för svenska och flerspråkighet 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I'm an associate professor of Translation studies with a focus on interpreting at the Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism at Stockholm University.

defended my thesis in 2013 at the Univeristy of Bergen (Norway) my thesis dealt with professional experience and expertise among conference interpreters.




At BA-level in interpreting and sign language interpreting I supervise BA-theses and teach the following courses: 

At MA-level I teach the following courses in interpreting:

Course development

I have developed courses both for the conference interpreting training and the public service interpreting training. I have developed the master's program in interpreting and the completely new program for public service interpreting. I have also developed the new course for interpreting teachers, Pedagogy and didactics for interpreting teachers. Recently, I have been preparing the launch our course for public service interpreters at the department for Language and Literature at Lund University.


I supervise students at all levels with studies in interpreting. My areas of expertise are cognition in interpreting and sociology in interpreting.

Current supervision: 

Aleksandra Adler who has a project within my VR project "The inisible process - cognition and working memory in dialogue interpreting".

Past supervision:

Johanna Granhangen Jungner at Karolinska instituet. Johanna's thesis deals with communication over language barriers in child oncology care. Johanna defended her thesis in December 2018 you can read it here.

Gro Hege Saltnes Urdal whose thesis at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences deals with students' Education and Buildung on their way to become interpreters for the deaf-blind. Gro's defended her thesis in August 2019. Read more about her work: Interpreter students’ development of professional characteristics as interpreters for deafblind individuals: Evidence-based practice and Bildung processes.


Research interests

My research deals with cognitive processes in interpreting and translation, and interpreters' and translators' development of competence and expertise as part of these processes. I also study deliberate practice in interpreting as a charachteristics of expertise. 

Another area of my research deals with children as langauage brokers for their families, and the communicative processes of children in families with limited Swedish proficiency in their encounter with the surrounding society. 

At TÖI, I survey, develop and monitor the assessment at entrance tests and final tests. I also work with pedagogical and didactical approaches to interpreting training.


Currently, I have three ongoing projects:

”Invisible process – Cognition and working memory of dialogue interpreting” (with Birgitta Englund Dimitrova). The project deals with cognitive processes in dialogue interpreting. We investigate them with psychometric instruments, but also through experimental role plays and retrospection. This project is funded for four years (2017-2020) by the Swedsh Research council (VR 2016-01118). You can find the project summary here.

”Communication over language barriers in highly specialized paediatric care” (with Johanna Granhagen-Jungner and Pernilla Pergert, KI). The project investigates interpreting and communication over language barriers among families with limited Swedish proficiency. We use quesionnaires, interviews and observations. This project has recieved funding from Stiftelsen Frimurare Barnhusen, Sällskapet Barnavård and the Swedish Childhood Cancer foundation 

”Communication between schools and parents - Child language brokers’ view.” The project has not yet recieved funding but got quite alot of attention in the media through a documentary on Swedish radio.

I also continue to publish about my previous project on competence development, expertise, and deliberate practice among conference interpreters. 

Reserach cooperation

Member of the research group ”Childhood cancer health care research”, at the Department for Women's and Children's health at Karolinska institutet.

Member of the research network TREC (Translation, Research, Empiricism, Cognition), which is an international network for reserach on cognitive proceses in interpreting and translation.

2016 – 2022 Board member of the European Society for Translation Studies.

Professional cooperation

I'm a professional interpreter, authorized by the Swedish authorization agency Kammarkollegiet and a member of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC). I'm also an accredited conference interpreter to the European institutions. My working languages are English, French, Danish and Swedish.

I'm external advisor in the European Commission project to create a Knowledge Centre on Interpretation


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Johanna Granhagen Jungner (et al.). Patient Education and Counseling 102 (4), 656-662

    Objectives: The objective of this study was to explore interpreters' perceived strategies in the interaction in interpreter-mediated consultations between healthcare personnel and patients/families with limited Swedish proficiency in pediatric oncology care. Methods: This study had an inductive approach using an exploratory qualitative design. A total of eleven semi-structured interviews were performed with interpreters who had experience interpreting in pediatric oncology care. Results: The interpreters' perceived strategies were divided into four generic categories; strategies for maintaining a professional role, strategies for facilitating communication, strategies for promoting collaboration, and strategies for improving the framework of interpreting provision. These four generic categories were then merged into the single main category of carrying the bilingual conversation. Conclusions: The interpreters stretch their discretionary power in order to carry the bilingual conversation by using strategies clearly outside of their assignment. Practical implications: The study contributes to the understanding of the interpreter-mediated consultation in pediatric oncology care, and this can be used to improve the care of patients and families in pediatric oncology care with limited knowledge of a country's majority language.

  • 2018. Elisabet Tiselius. Tolking, 38-60

    I detta kapitel beskrivs ett antal modeller för att analysera, illustrera och förklara tolkning. I det här kapitlet vill jag skapa förståelse för vad modeller i tolkning beskriver samt för hur deras teoretiska utgångspunkter kan påverka den beskrivningen. Modellerna är valda för att de fått stort genomslag både inom tolkforskning och tolkutbildning. Några är testade empiriskt, andra är utvecklade ur ett empiriskt datamaterial och ytterligare andra är utvecklade ur observationer och erfarenheter från lärare och forskare. Förhoppningen att läsaren får olika instrument att se på och analysera sin egen tolkning.

  • 2018. Elisabet Tiselius. Perspectives

    This article discusses different aspects of research ethics, the researcher’s voice and discretionary power in interpreting studies. Research ethics is laid down in international conventions, which in turn are reflected in national regulations and ethical vetting. Discretionary power is understood as the leeway for making conscientious decisions within the rules and regulations governing a certain field. Although research ethics in interpreting has as yet received little scholarly attention, it is important that the field discusses aspects such as informed consent and the collection, analysis and reporting of data. This article uses three case studies to discuss how researchers can handle such ethical issues. Interpreting researchers often are or have been active interpreters, and this is yet another potential challenge for the field. Such duality potentially means that the researcher needs to navigate two ethical systems, that of the interpreter and that of the researcher – systems that may come into conflict with each other. It may also entail the risk of the researcher’s voice taking over the participants’ narrative.

  • 2018. Elisabet Tiselius. Translation – Didaktik – Kompetenz, 131-144

    Deliberate practice, as described in expertise theory of cognitive psychology, stems, at least in part, from Ericsson, Krampe and Tesch-Römer’s seminal 1993 study of violin students from the Music Academy of West Berlin. In their article, Ericsson et al. take issue with the belief that truly exceptional performers are unique because they possess different types of innate giftedness. They say such reasoning is oversimplified and suggest that a truly scientific account of such skills would have to describe the development leading up to exceptional performance, as well as the “genetic and acquired characteristics that mediate it” (1993: 363, italics added). Furthermore, they argue that a scientific mapping of exceptional performance must identify critical differences between exceptional and ordinary performers. And, finally, they suggest that when researchers argue that there are genetic differences, those differences must be proven to be genetically heritable as being hereditary. Because it would be difficult for researchers to provide this evidence, Ericsson et al. recommend researchers investigate environmental factors that could “selectively promote and facilitate the achievement of such performance” instead (1993: 363). Based on their research, Ericsson et al. suggest one crucial environmental factor is deliberate practice.

    Of course, the issue of deliberate practice is not without controversy. One of the main counterarguments to Ericsson et al.’s proposal is that even if practice is important, researchers cannot rule out the contribution of ability factors. Some have suggested it is unfair to less able individuals to claim that hard work is enough to achieve excellence (Detterman 2014). Furthermore, several studies have shown that deliberate practice is a weak explanation of the variance in performance in many areas (Macnamara, Hambrick and Oswald 2014; Menz and Hambrick, 2010). Ericsson counters these studies by stating that the structure of expert performance is so unique it “cannot be extrapolated from the performance–ability relations observed in the general adult population” (Ericsson 2014: 81).

    Deliberate practice in interpreting poses another challenge for the researcher because the few studies done on the construct in this field have failed to show the mere occurrence (let alone the effect) of deliberate practice in interpreting (Tiselius 2013; Albl-Mikasa 2013). It is possible that interpreting researchers cannot find an effect for deliberate practice because they have incorrectly defined the construct. Alternatively, deliberate practice in interpreting may be a unicorn: a noble creature with the power to redeem novice interpreters be they only pure, which unfortunately exists only in fairy tales. With only two studies in the field, we do not have sufficient evidence to decide whether deliberate practice is an unproven fact or only a fiction.

    This article describes the theoretical foundations of deliberate practice, differences between practice and deliberate practice, and how the construct has been studied in the fields of cognitive psychology broadly and interpreting specifically. It will also investigate criticisms of deliberate practice in the field.

  • 2018. Johanna Granhagen Jungner (et al.). Patient Education and Counseling 101 (9), 1661-1668

    Objective: To develop a valid and reliable questionnaire addressing the experiences of healthcare personnel of communicating over language barriers and using interpreters in paediatric healthcare. Methods: A multiple- methods approach to develop and evaluate the questionnaire, including focus groups, cognitive interviews, a pilot test and test-retest. The methods were chosen in accordance with questionnaire development methodology to ensure validity and reliability. Results: The development procedure showed that the issues identified were highly relevant to paediatric healthcare personnel and resulted in a valid and reliable Communication over Language Barriers questionnaire (CoLB-q) with 27 questions. Conclusion: The CoLB-q is perceived as relevant, important and easy to respond to by respondents and has satisfactory validity and reliability.& nbsp; Practice implications: The CoLB-q can be used to map how healthcare personnel overcome language barriers through communication tools and to identify problems encountered in paediatric healthcare. Furthermore, the transparently described process could be used as a guide for developing similar questionnaires.

  • 2018. Elisabet Tiselius. Hermes - Journal of Language and Communication Studies (57), 49-61

    Sign language interpreting of dialogues shares many features with the interpreting of dialogues between non-signed languages. We argue that from a cognitive perspective in dialogue interpreting, despite some differences between the two types of interpreting, sign language interpreters use many of the same processes and handle similar challenges as interpreters between non-signed languages. We report on a first exploration of process differences in sign language interpreting between three novice and three experienced Swedish Sign Language interpreters. The informants all interpreted the same dialogue and made a retrospection of their interpreting immediately after the task. Retrospections were analyzed using tools for identifying reported processing problems, instances of monitoring, and strategy use (see Ivanova 1999). Furthermore, the interpreting products (both into Swedish Sign Language and into Swedish) and their differences were qualitatively analyzed. The results indicate that there are differences between the two groups, both in terms of the retrospective reports and in terms of the interpreting product. As expected, monitoring seems to be a factor determined by experience. The experienced interpreters seemed to have more efficient ways of handling turn taking and the internalization of new vocabulary. The study also concludes that to use instruments devised for simultaneous conference interpreting (Ivanova 1999; Tiselius 2013), the instruments need to be adapted to the dialogue setting, even though in the case of sign language interpreting the simultaneous interpreting technique is used even in dialogue interpreting.

  • 2017. Elisabet Tiselius, Adelina Hild. The Handbook of Translation and Cognition, 425-444

    This chapter will outline the main perspectives of the empirical study of competence and expertise in both translation and interpreting. We will cover such core issues as definitions and models of competence and expertise, the relationship between professionalism and expertise, and the multivariate nature of translation/interpreting expertise (cognitive vs. social), as well as the structure of deliberate practice in the field, the stages of competence/expertise acquisition, and how these stages can relate to training and professional experience. The chapter considers both exclusive and inclusive models of competence and seeks to critically link them to expertise. Furthermore, the chapter provides a survey of the methods employed to study the specific skills and knowledge included in these models. It will also consider areas that have received little attention to date in translation process research, namely, the role of selfregulation (motivation, metacognition, emotion regulation) in performance and in supporting deliberate practice. We conclude by outlining outstanding issues for further research as well as the implications of current research for the interpreting and translation professions.

  • 2016. Birgitta Englund Dimitrova, Elisabet Tiselius. Reembedding Translation Process Research, 195-214

    This article discusses cognitive aspects of professional community interpreting. We give an overview of earlier research into community interpreting, arguing that cognitive aspects have largely been neglected. We propose that in building a model of the mental processes of the community interpreter, different kinds of monitoring are a crucial and pervasive component. Monitoring contributes to and enables the double function of the interpreter: translating and managing the interaction of the interpreted encounter. We furthermore stress the importance of the notion of professional self-concept for explaining the interpreter’s decision-making and exemplify this by analyzing turn-taking in two Swedish-Spanish interpreted encounters.

  • 2016. Johanna Granhagen Jungner (et al.). Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing 33 (2), 137-145

    PURPOSE: Children and families with a foreign background and limited Swedish proficiency have to communicate through interpreters in childhood cancer care centers in Sweden. Interpreter-mediated events deal with many difficulties that potentially hinder the transfer of information. The purpose of our study was to explore interpreters' experiences of interpreting between health care staff and limited Swedish proficiency patients/families in childhood cancer care.

    DESIGN: Using purposive samples, we interviewed 11 interpreters individually. The interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.

    FINDINGS: Analyses of the data resulted in the main theme of creating a meeting point of understanding, constructed from 3 subthemes: balancing between cultures, bridging the gaps of knowledge, and balancing between compassion and professionalism.

    DISCUSSION: Our result shows that in order to create a sustainable meeting point of understanding, it is necessary to explain both the context and cultural differences. These results suggest that the responsibility for information transfer lies with both the health care profession and the interpreters. Tools have to be developed for both parties to contribute to creating the meeting point of understanding.

Show all publications by Elisabet Tiselius at Stockholm University

Last updated: September 17, 2020

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