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National Diploma: Liaison Interpreting 
49023  National Diploma: Liaison Interpreting 
SGB Translation, Interpreting and Language Editing 
QCTO - Quality Council for Trades and Occupations  OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
National Diploma  Field 04 - Communication Studies and Language  Communication Studies 
Undefined  249  Level 5  NQF Level 05  Regular-Unit Stds Based 
Passed the End Date -
Status was "Reregistered" 
SAQA 9900/00  2018-07-01  2023-06-30 
2023-06-30   2025-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

For the field of communication and language:

This qualification is intended to improve the status of interpreting services generally, and specifically through delivery of quality services to the general public, by increasing the pool of competence, improving professionalism and ensuring ethical conduct.

For social and economic transformation:

Learners who qualify are able to improve their earning ability, by obtaining recognised professional competence. In addition, an elective component can provide the competence required for entrepreneurship, allowing credited learners to contribute significantly to the South African economy. Credited learners can also contribute to ensuring linguistic human rights, improving access to public services and resolving conflict that arises from ineffective communication.

For the individual learner:

Interpreting dialogue from source language to target language and vice versa means that qualified learners will be capable of:
  • Selecting interpreting modes according to specific interpreting contexts
  • Listening to source messages (both auditory and visually)
  • Understanding source messages
  • Analysing source messages
  • Taking and reading notes for analysis of and reformulating source message (Range: for short consecutive interpreting)
  • Accessing short term memory for message recall
  • Accessing long term memory for background/general/world and linguistic knowledge
  • Reformulating/production of messages
  • Managing interpreting situations (politeness strategies, conversational principles)
  • Mediating between cultures
  • Managing power and status differences when interpreting


    The rationale for this qualification is evident in the definition of "liaison interpreting", which is interpreting occurring in various settings, where two or more interlocutors do not share language and where the interpreter must be present in order to bridge the communication gap (Gentile, Ozolins, & Vasilakakos, 1996). Interpreting is especially important where interaction is non-parallel in terms of status of participants, for example a doctor and a patient. In such cases interpreting will facilitate access of information, mutual participation and protect human rights.

    Qualified learners will serve the public, thereby contributing to the community in which they operate. The qualification addresses interpreting needs in various institutions, for example those in the courts and the health system. It should be noted that the qualification may address interpreting in an education setting, linguistically non parallel interpreting, and is aimed mainly at further education learners.

    The roles that qualified learners will be able to fulfil, include the following; interpreting in the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration cases; interpreting in magistrates/municipal/courts for cases with limited impact, i.e. not High Court; telephone interpreting, interpreting for business, health interpreting and educational interpreting, mainly at the Senior Phase and Further Education and Training level.

    A National Diploma in Liaison Interpreting (NQF Level 5) is required to facilitate learning in the field of communication in order to build on language skills, to use interpreting and to facilitate multi-lingualism. The qualification will also allow for entry into degree qualifications, thereby providing access to Higher Education. 

    It is assumed that learners have already attained the following competencies:
  • Communication: Proficient in their first and at least a second language within their community context
  • Interpreting and conveying verbal and non-verbal communication within and between language groups
  • Appreciating interpreting as professional activities, keeping to deadlines and performing activities ethically
  • Starting a new business venture, and/or Supervising a team of interpreters, and/or Collecting research data through field work, contained in the National Certificate in Community Language Practice (NQF Level 4)

    Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

    Learners who have met the requirements of any Unit Standard in this qualification may apply for recognition of prior learning to the relevant Education and Training Quality Assurance body (ETQA). The applicant will be assessed against the specific outcomes and with the assessment criteria for the relevant Unit Standard or Unit Standards. A qualification will be awarded should a candidate demonstrate that all the Unit Standards outcomes have been attained. 


  • The qualification does not contain a Fundamental Component (0 credits).
  • All the Core Component Unit Standards are compulsory (222 credits).
  • For the Elective Component learners are required to attain 27 credits out of 115 credits.

    Please note that the following two unit standards should be ACHIEVED TWICE, in two different languages:
  • Analyse linguistic structure of source message (Level 5, Credits 15)
  • Analyse various texts in different contexts (Level 5, Credits 15) 


    1. Select interpreting modes according to specific interpreting contexts.
    2. Understand source messages.
    3. Analyse source messages.
    4. Take and access notes for analysis of and reformulating source message (Range: for short consecutive interpreting).
    5. Recall messages and world and linguistic knowledge.
    6. Reformulate/ produce messages.
    7. Manage interpreting situations.
    8. Mediate between cultures.


    9. Manage business by demonstrating an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation.
    10. Work effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisation or community to facilitate others' Learning.
    11. Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information using science and technology effectively and critically.
    12. Organise and manage self and interpreting activities responsibly and effectively to address customer requirements.
    13. Communicate effectively using language skills in the mode of written presentation in a third language. 


  • Mode selected is appropriate for specific interpreting contexts.
  • Selection is justified in terms of type and context of interaction.

  • Understanding of content is verified and correct.
  • Context of content is described accurately.
  • Institutional procedures are described accurately.
  • Correctness of content is verified where relevant.
  • Uncertainties and ambiguities are resolved.

  • Content is repeated accurately.
  • Organisation of messages is appropriate for reformulation/production.
  • Length of turn is appropriate for the mode of interpreting.
  • Logical progression of message structure is correct .

  • Notes are accessible to the learner.
  • Note-taking system adds value to interpreting process.
  • Organisation of information in notes is appropriate for the context.
  • Organisation of information in notes is justified in terms of note-taking system used.

  • Messages recalled accurately represent all aspects of source messages.
  • Messages recalled reflect relevant world knowledge.
  • Understanding of the source language is correct.

  • Production of messages is appropriate in terms of the interpreting brief. Range: the brief could be explicit or implied.
  • Decision-making strategies result in accuracy, fluency, and compensation when necessary.
  • Message produced is accurate in terms of target language norms.
  • Target message meaning corresponds to source message meaning.
  • Target message is relevant for specific audiences.
  • Lag time of interpreting delivery is appropriate for the complexity and tempo of the message.

  • Manipulation of variables impacting on auditory or visual listening ensures effective listening.
  • Management of turn-taking is appropriate for the interpreting context. Range: context includes status/power relations.
  • All parties are informed when problems arise during interpreting.
  • Own limitations in terms of accepting work are correctly considered.
  • Strategies selected to manage power and status differences are appropriate for specific contexts.
  • Relevant conversational principles are adhered to.

  • Strategies selected for mediating are culture-appropriate. Range: strategies may include politeness strategies.
  • Relevant conversational principles are adhered to.
  • Cultural elements relevant to specific contexts are accounted for.


  • Contribution to estimation and preparation of cost budgets for elements of work is accurate and adequate for specified contexts.
  • Monitoring and controlling of actual costs against budgets are accurate and meet specified requirements.
  • Creation and use of a range of resources to manage teams, sections, departments or divisions are effective in terms of required management objectives and outputs.
  • Management of time and work processes is effective in relation to a business environment.
  • Negotiation in an authentic work situation results in an agreement or deal.
  • Business plan development for small business takes into account relevant factors that impact on feasibility and meets context-specific requirements.
  • Investigation of the possibilities of establishing and running a small business enterprise (SMME) is comprehensive in terms of relevant considerations.

  • Planning of learning events meets specified requirements.
  • Facilitation of adult learning events meets specified requirements.
  • Management of learnerships/learning programmes facilitates achievement of programme objectives.
  • Management of staff development meets specified requirements.
  • Assessment of learning outcomes meets specified, recognised requirements for good assessment practice.

  • Basic concepts of databases are correctly described.
  • Planning and creating a simple database meets specified database development specifications and purpose.
  • Planning, monitoring and controlling an information system in a business environment facilitates effective use of information.
  • Production of presentation documents for business meet specified business requirements.

  • Presentation of informed arguments on a current issue in a business sector is justified in terms of relevant sector information.
  • Management customer requirements and needs and implementation of action plans meet client requirements.

  • Text types, text features and text functions are correctly identified, selected and verified in relation to parallel texts.
  • Texts are design based on context-specific requirements.
  • The writing process is planned effectively.
  • Errors in text are accurately identified and analysed.
  • Feedback regarding text is obtained and provided.
  • Linguistic or textual features are accurately assessed.
  • Text assessment findings are justified.
  • Strategies selected to improve and transform text are context-appropriate and justified.
  • Comparison of own composition with similar text types is relevant.
  • Text quality is improved where relevant.
  • Adaptations of text for different readerships is appropriate for specific readership profiles.
  • The conceptual level of text is adjusted to correct readership level.

    Integrated assessment

    Before qualifying, the learner will be expected to demonstrate competence that integrates the assessment of all specific outcomes, for all Unit Standards, for example, applying competence in a practical scenario. This will require learners to translate between at least two languages. In addition, during the learning process to attain the outcomes of each Unit Standard, learners will be expected to give evidence that they have attained the embedded knowledge and specific skills contained in specific outcomes for the relevant Unit Standard. 

    Comparison with the following countries were made, as they are centres of excellence, or have multi-lingualism policies similar to that of South Africa: India, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany and the United States of America.

    Training for interpreters in India is aimed mainly at interpreting competence for seminars, trade shows, conferences and meetings. Competence includes consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, in specific technical and non-technical fields, taking into account non-linguistic factors such as political, religious or cultural sensitivities and gender, bilingualism, and cross-cultural knowledge.

    The New Zealand National Qualifications Framework has ten levels of progression. The Translating and Interpreting Unit Standards (no qualification exists on the New Zealand framework) are registered at Levels 6 and 7. Level 6 is described as involving carrying out processes that require a command of wide-ranging highly specialised technical or scholastic skills, a wide choice of standard and non-standard procedures, often in non-standard combinations, in highly variable routine and non-routine contexts. This is the equivalent of the South African NQF Level 5 or 6.

    In the United States of America, interpreters are deemed competent if they are able to interpret effectively, accurately and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialised vocabulary. Standards are set for practice rather than education and training, and differ depending on the context, for example, educational interpreting standards are distinguished from medical interpreting standards. Training of interpreters is primarily based on the ASTM International Standard Guide for Language Interpretation Services. Competence is required in terms of the setting where interpreting takes place, and includes ad hoc interpreting, simultaneous interpretation, consecutive interpretation, business interpreting, community interpreting, conference interpreting, court interpreting, dialogue interpreting, diplomatic interpreting, health-care interpreting, liaison interpreting, medical interpreting, and telephone interpreting. Competence also includes language competence, ethics and using interpretation equipment.

    American entry-level programs are about 45 hours of learning for certification, for example, in medical interpreting - this is much shorter than the South African entry-level certificate qualification at NQF Level 4, and at the level of this qualification (South African NQF Level 5) as continuing education. The closest equivalent to this qualification builds on the 45-hour program, and contains 270 classroom hours for six courses, in any two-language combinations. The competence required of learners includes introducing participants to the role of the interpreter, managing the spatial configuration of the interpreting situation, developing terminology, linguistic competence, analysis of the environment, analysis of cultural aspects, ethical conduct, self evaluation, adhering to protocol, creating a list of resources, developing a record of phrases and guidelines, and translation of simple texts - the latter is also included in the entry-level South African qualification, although this is not included in this level of qualification.

    In Germany, degrees in interpreting (Diplom-DolmetscherIn) are offered, as well as doctoral and masters degrees (South African NQF Level 8). Competence for all qualifications includes linguistic competence, and content area of specialisation (e.g. information technology) knowledge. In the United Kingdom, occupational certificates are registered on the National and Scottish Vocational Qualifications framework, at their levels 3 and 4. At levels 3 and 4, units that can be stand-alone, or form part of other qualifications are available. In addition, at level 4, a National Vocational Qualification in Interpreting and a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting are available. These qualifications are equivalent to the National Certificate in Liaison Interpreting (NQF Level 5) in South Africa.

    For the National Vocational Qualification in Interpreting, the following are compulsory:
  • Develop your Performance as an Interpreter
  • Communicate Complex Information Relating to Work Activities
  • Understand Complex Information Relating to Work Activities
  • Prepare for Interpreting Assignments
  • Conduct Interpreting Assignments

    In addition, learners can select from the following:
  • Improve Own Management of the Business
  • Produce Sight Translations of Everyday Documents to Support Interpreting Assignments
  • Produce Written Translations of Everyday Documents to Support Interpreting Assignments
  • Work with Other Interpreters

    For the Diploma, learners specialise by achieving interpreting competence in one of the following units:
  • English Law
  • Scottish Law
  • Health
  • Local Government

    A half-year in-service Diploma, as preparation for the professional examination, is also being offered, and another qualification (a certificate) allows specialisation in Deafblind Interpreting (not included in the South African qualification). An MA in Interpreting and Translating is offered at a higher level that this qualification. For the above qualifications in the United Kingdom, learners are typically graduates, whereas the South African qualification builds on NQF level 4 only.

    Australia has two Interpreting qualifications, with the former qualification comparable to this South African qualification:
  • Diploma of Interpreting and Translation
  • Advanced Diploma of Interpreting and Translating

    Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas recognise capacity for initiative and judgement across a broad range of technical and/or management functions. The Advanced Diploma is a more specialised qualification and signifies skill and knowledge of a greater complexity and a higher level of personal accountability than is required at a Diploma level. 

    This qualification was developed for articulation between translation, interpreting and editing areas of competence.
    Horizontal articulation on the Framework is possible with various qualifications containing the registered Unit Standards included in this qualification. For example, those addressing business management, learning facilitation, database use, and information and communication management.

    Vertical articulation upward is possible with most generic first degrees. The competencies attained during this qualification provide a basis for further learning, for example, towards business management and entrepreneurship. 

    Moderation of assessment and accreditation of providers shall be at the discretion of a relevant ETQA as long as it complies with the SAQA requirements. The ETQA is responsible for moderation of learner achievements of learners who meet the requirements of this qualification. Particular moderation and accreditation requirements are:
  • Any institution offering learning that will enable the achievement of this qualification must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA. Providers offering learning towards achievement of any of the unit standards that make up this qualification must also be accredited through the relevant ETQA accredited by SAQA.
  • The ETQA will oversee assessment and moderation of assessment according to their policies and guidelines for assessment and moderation, or in terms of agreements reached around assessment and moderation between the relevant ETQA and other ETQAs and in terms of the moderation guideline detailed here.
  • Moderation must include both internal and external moderation of assessments for the qualification, unless the relevant ETQA policies specify otherwise. Moderation should also encompass achievement of the competence described in Unit Standards as well as the integrated competence described in the qualification.
  • Internal moderation of assessment must take place at the point of assessment with external moderation provided by a relevant ETQA according to the moderation guidelines and the agreed ETQA procedures.
  • Anyone wishing to be assessed against this qualification may apply to be assessed by any assessment agency, assessor or provider institution that is accredited by the relevant ETQA. 

    Assessment of learner achievements takes place at providers accredited by the relevant ETQA (RSA, 1998b) for the provision of programs that result in the outcomes specified for this qualification. Anyone assessing a learner or moderating the assessment of a learner against this qualification must be registered as an assessor with the ETQA. Assessors registered with the relevant ETQA must carry out the assessment of learners for the qualification and any of the Unit Standards that make up this qualification.

    To register as an assessor, the following are required:
  • Detailed documentary proof of relevant qualification/s, practical training completed, and experience gained at one level above this qualification
  • NQF recognised assessor credit

    Assessors should keep the following general principles in mind when designing and conducting assessments:
  • Focus the initial assessment activities on gathering evidence in terms of the main outcomes expressed in the titles of the Unit Standards to ensure assessment is integrated rather than fragmented. Remember that the learner needs to be declared competent in terms of the qualification purpose and exit level outcomes.
  • Where assessment across Unit Standard titles or at Unit Standard title level is unmanageable, then focus ssessment around each specific outcome, or groups of specific outcomes. Take special note of the need for integrated assessment.
  • Make sure evidence is gathered across the entire range, wherever it applies.

    In particular, assessors should assess that the learner demonstrates an ability to consider a range of options by:
  • Measuring the quality of the observed practical performance as well as the theory and underpinning knowledge.
  • Using methods that are varied to allow the learner to display thinking and decision making in the demonstration of practical performance.
  • Maintaining a balance between practical performance and theoretical assessment methods to ensure each is measured in accordance with the level of the qualification.
  • Taking into account that the relationship between practical and theoretical components is not fixed, but varies according to the type and level of qualification.

    All assessments should be conducted in line with the following well-documented principles:
  • Appropriate: The method of assessment is suited to the performance being assessed.
  • Fair: The method of assessment does not present any barriers to achievements, which are not related to the evidence.
  • Manage: The methods used make for easily arranged cost-effective assessments that do not unduly interfere with learning.
  • Integrate into work or learning: Evidence collection is integrated into the work or learning process where this is appropriate and feasible.
  • Valid: The assessment focuses on the requirements laid down in the standards; i.e. the assessment is fit for purpose.
  • Direct: The activities in the assessment mirror the conditions of actual performance as close as possible.
  • Authentic: The assessor is satisfied that the work being assessed is attributable to the learner being assessed.
  • Sufficient: The evidence collected establishes that all criteria have been met and that performance to the required Standard can be repeated consistently.
  • Systematic: Planning and recording is sufficiently rigorous to ensure that assessment is fair.
  • Open: Learners can contribute to the planning and accumulation of evidence. Learners for assessment understand the assessment process and the criteria that apply.
  • Consistent: The same assessor would make the same judgement again in similar circumstances. The judgement made is similar than the judgement that would be made by other assessors. 

    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this qualification was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 

    As per the SAQA decision to re-register all provider-based qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework that meet the criteria for re-registration, this qualification has been re-registered from 1 July 2018. Range:
  • Interpreting takes place face to face, in direct contact with both parties, from source language to target language and vice versa
  • Modes are limited to short consecutive interpreting, and simultaneous interpreting without equipment
  • Text can include pictorial, written, spoken or signed
  • The two languages alternate as target and source language 

    Core  110000  Generate information and reports for internal and external use  Level 4  NQF Level 04  10 
    Core  110009  Manage administration records  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Core  14522  Analyse and explain the impact of one`s personal interactive style on one`s relationship with a client  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  116616  Analyse liaison interpreting contexts  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  15 
    Core  116613  Analyse linguistic structure of source messages  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  15 
    Core  115006  Analyse various texts in different contexts  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Core  115011  Build information resources for translation  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  15 
    Core  116620  Deliver target messages  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  15 
    Core  15096  Demonstrate an understanding of stress in order to apply strategies to achieve optimal stress levels in personal and work situations  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  15093  Demonstrate insight into democracy as a form of governance and its implications for a diverse society  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  15094  Demonstrate insight into the application of theories of Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence in personal development  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  15219  Develop and implement a strategy and action plans for a team, department or division  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  10043  Develop, implement and manage a project/activity plan  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  15238  Devise and apply strategies to establish and maintain relationships  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  116617  Evaluate source and target content  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  15 
    Core  15233  Harness diversity and build on strengths of a diverse working environment  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  15229  Implement codes of conduct in the team, department or division  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  15226  Implement systems to meet the flow of information in a team, department or division  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  10053  Manage customer requirements and needs and implement action plans  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  116618  Manage interpreting situations  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  15 
    Core  15230  Monitor team members and measure effectiveness of performance  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  14609  Participate in management of conflict  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  116619  Produce target messages  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  15 
    Elective  10385  Develop a business plan for a small business  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  8974  Engage in sustained oral communication and evaluate spoken texts  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  7384  Facilitate an adult learning event  Level 4  NQF Level 04  16 
    Elective  117244  Investigate the possibilities of establishing and running a small business enterprise (SMME)  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  13948  Negotiate an agreement or deal in an authentic work situation  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  10134  Participate in the estimation and preparation of cost budgets for an element of work and monitor and control actual cost against budget  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  9950  Plan learning events  Level 4  NQF Level 04  10 
    Elective  8975  Read analyse and respond to a variety of texts  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  8979  Use language and communication in occupational learning programmes  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  8976  Write for a wide range of contexts  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  15234  Apply efficient time management to the work of a department/division/section  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  115753  Conduct outcomes-based assessment  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  15 
    Elective  15231  Create and use a range of resources to effectively manage teams, sections, departments or divisions  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  15216  Create opportunities for innovation and lead projects to meet innovative ideas  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  7863  Manage staff development  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  14525  Present an informed argument on a current issue in a business sector  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 


    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.