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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.

I'm currently working with a the Swedish Research council funded project The invisible process - Cognition and working memory of dialogue interpreting.




I'm currently on 80% leave, but teach occasionally at: 

At MA-level I teach the following courses occasionally:

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 program for public service interpreting. I have also developed the course for interpreting teachers, Pedagogy and didactics for interpreting teachers. I was also involved in the launch of the course for public service interpreters at the department for Language and Literature at Lund University.


I supervise students at all levels with theses 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".

Nereida Betancor-Sánchez with a project on distance dialogue interpreting. 

Thomas Thomsen var avhandlingsarbete fokuserar på språkkunskaper hos dialogtolkar. Thomas huvudhandledare är Magnus Dahnberg.

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.

2018-2020 I was external advisor in the European Commission project to create a Knowledge Centre on Interpretation

Member of editorial board

Translation and Interpreting Studies


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2020. Pernilla Pergert, Elisabet Tiselius. Ethical issues in pediatric hematology/oncology, 203-222

    Intercultural healthcare refers to when people of different cultures and languages communicate and interact in the healthcare context. Intercultural competence is pivotal to provide congruent and meaningful care. The notion intercultural stresses that at least two cultures are involved; however, many use the term cultural. Cultural competence has been described as a process in healthcare interactions and systems, aiming to increase equity and reduce disparities in care. Cultural competence shares core components with patient centered care, but patient centered care is difficult when the values of patients are in conflict with the values of the healthcare professionals and systems. Cultural diversity can lead to conflicts of the most fundamental values and thus, intercultural healthcare requires that professionals have opportunities and skills to deal with value conflicts. We present a relational ethics approach for intercultural competence. The basic ideas of relational ethics, and of intercultural competence, are that they exist in relationships, the context is of importance and true dialogue is the core. The components of intercultural competence are explained and include intercultural dialogue, intercultural reflection and intercultural learning. Furthermore, intercultural communication, i.e. the act of communicating between distinct cultural groups, is pivotal to enable intercultural dialogue and should continuously be developed through intercultural learning in the process of understanding and adapting to the other. We will also discuss professional interpreters’ impact on cultural learning and mutual understanding in the intercultural healthcare context. We argue that healthcare professionals need to learn effective interpreting use as part of intercultural competence.

  • 2020. Elisabet Tiselius, Elisabet Hägglund, Pernilla Pergert. Handbook of Research in Medical Interpreting, 54-79

    This chapter describes situations of distress and the working climate of healthcare interpreters in Sweden. A questionnaire focused on distressful situations was administered to interpreters with experience in healthcare interpreting. The results indicated that distress in healthcare interpreting could be traced back to ethically and emotionally challenging interpreting situations and working conditions, and a lack of respect for the interpreters’ work. An interview study using Grounded Theory showed that interpreters’ main concern was the threat to professional and private integrity. Despite the fact that in general the interpreting profession in Sweden may seem professionalized, interpreters struggle with dilemmas connected to less professionalized activities. Our study was conducted in Sweden, but we argue that the results can be generalized to other countries. Although differently organized in different countries, health care interpreters experience similar dilemmas. Equal access to equitable care can be effectively hindered by language barriers.

  • 2020. Elisabet Tiselius. Traduction et migration, 309-324

    Le rôle de l’interprète du secteur public est compris différemment dans les pays nordiques et par exemple en France. Dans les pays nordiques, la tâche de l’interprète est vue comme bi-partiale c’est à dire que l’interprète se tient à égale distance des parties en présence (Skaaden, 2016). Dans cet article, le rôle, la formation, le marché et la législation concernant l’interprète de secteur public en Suède sont présentés. Nous partons de l’idée lancée par Wadensjö (1998) que tous les locuteurs, l’interprète inclus, co-construisent la signification du message via l’interaction. La législation qui gouverne les services de l’interprétation part du principe de base que les deux parties en présence doivent se comprendre lors de leur rencontre, le fonctionnaire a autant besoin d’un interprète que l’immigré s’ils ne maîtrisent pas la même langue. L’auteure souligne aussi qu’il n’y pas de contradiction entre le recours à un interprète et l’apprentissage de la langue.

  • 2020. Elisabet Tiselius, Kayle Sneed. Bilingualism 23 (4), 780-787

    Previous studies have investigated the cognitive processes of simultaneous interpreting and translation using eye-tracking. No study has yet utilized eye-tracking to investigate cognitive load and cognitive effort in dialogue interpreting. An eye-tracking study was conducted on two groups of interpreters (experienced and inexperienced) with varying language backgrounds during a staged dialogue interpreting session. The aim of the study was to explore gaze patterns in dialogue interpreting in relation to the interpreters' action and translation direction. The results indicated there were differences in gaze patterns depending on the action and the language used. Participants averted gaze more when interpreting into the allophone language (the L2 for a majority of the participants in this study). This may indicate that interpreting into L2 in a dialogue may involve more cognitive effort than interpreting into L1. Finally, gaze patterns did not differ significantly between inexperienced and experienced dialogue interpreters.

  • 2020. Rachel E. Herring, Elisabet Tiselius. FITISPos international journal 7 (1), 53-71

    Retrospective verbal process tracing is a popular research method in Interpreting Studies, employed by a growing number of scholars, particularly in studies of conference interpreting, but, to date, it has not been widely employed in studies of dialogue interpreting. This paper begins by introducing process-tracing methodologies, defining types of verbal process tracing, and presenting a brief critical review of publications employing this research methodology. The bulk of the article provides concrete, practical information and guidance for scholars of dialogue interpreting who are interested in employing retrospective process tracing in their research. We discuss the theoretical underpinnings of the method, methodological considerations that must be taken into account in the design and procedure of such studies, data analysis and reporting on the basis of retrospective process tracing, and recommendations for best practices.

  • 2020. Ingeborg Skaten, Gro Hege Saltnes Urdal, Elisabet Tiselius. Translation and Interpreting Studies

    Integrated university programs for deaf and hearing sign language interpreting students are rare. In Finland, deaf interpreting students have been integrated in the only university program for sign language interpreting since its beginning in the early 1990s. This article investigates the experiences of the deaf interpreting students and deaf sign language interpreters (n=5) who attend and have attended the program. We analyzed interview responses using critical discourse analysis and the concept of identity construction, and found that deaf interpreting students, despite some disadvantages, benefitted from integrated programs. We also found three identity positions (competent deaf identity, student identity, and professional DI identity) and support for recognition (Honneth 1996) in both the solidarity and legal sphere developed through the program.

  • 2019. Elisabet Tiselius, Birgitta Englund Dimitrova.

    Language proficiency of dialogue interpreters, who typically work in the public service sector, is an under-researched area. Contrary to conference interpreters, for dialogue interpreters there is no generally accepted definition of proficiency levels of working languages. This article discusses language proficiency in dialogue interpreting. It presents a methodological problem, namely, how to define and determine a given interpreter’s stronger and weaker working language. In our article we discuss different methods for determining the individual interpreter’s stronger and weaker working languages, such as self-assessment, demographic, socio-linguistic questionnaire and test score (Dialang). We conclude that there is a need for more research into this area.

  • 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.

Show all publications by Elisabet Tiselius at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 17, 2021

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