SPAIN RETREAT 2023: Interpreter Training

Join us for this innovative Interpreter Training Program in Spain!

“Discovering the Parallels: Civil Law vs Common Law”

This 6-day adventure to Madrid and the surrounding area is tailored for the Professional Spanish Interpreter. All courses are being approved for Continuing Education Credit through the US State Courts.

Program includes a visit to Madrid’s Audiencia Provincial (criminal courthouse) to observe a trial!


In 2023, Prof. Karen Borgenheimer, MFA, will once again be joining forces with Dr. Susana San Cristobal, professor at the RCU “Maria Cristina” Law School, to present: “Discovering the Parallels: Civil Law vs US Common Law.” 


Prof. Karen Borgenheimer, MFA, lead instructor, is a classically-trained, certified interpreter and translator who is regarded as a skilled, insightful and versatile professional.

Karen’s educational background includes: a Master of Fine Arts degree in Translation Studies from the University of Arkansas–Fayetteville,  Sampere Escuela de Traductores e Interpretes (Madrid), doctoral course work in Spanish Language and Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Court and Conference Interpreting at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami.

Her Interpreter Training Workshops have been a huge success throughout Florida, where she has trained hundreds of certified interpreters and interpreters-in-training. She is a Continuing Education Provider for several states including: Florida, California, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Nevada.

For nearly a decade, Karen lived in San Lorenzo de El Escorial where she taught at the Real Centro Universitario (RCU) “Maria Cristina.” Her understanding of the Spanish people, language, culture and history is unique. It is this uniqueness and experience that she brings into the classroom by blending concepts and techniques with real-life applications–and a good dose of humor.

Karen has been a university professor for 32 years and a professor of the Translation and Interpretation Program at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, Florida for the past 19 years. She has presented at the ATA-Spanish Language Division Conference 2017, NAJIT 2018 Conference, Florida State Interpreter Conference 2019 (presenter + keynote speaker), and the Pacific Northwest Interpreter Conference 2019.


Dr. Susana San Cristóbal Reales: Obtained both her law degree (Licenciado en Derecho) and Doctorate in Procedural Law (cum laude) from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.

As a law professor for the past 30 years, Dr. San Cristóbal has taught numerous courses in Civil and Criminal Procedural Law at various Law Schools in Spain including the prestigious Real Centro Universitario (RCU) María Cristina in San Lorenzo de El Escorial (an affiliate of the Universidad Complutense of Madrid), the Universidad Europea de Madrid, and the Universidad Nebrija, UNED.
She also teaches Alternative Systems for Conflict Resolution (Masters of Law) at the Centro Garrigues and Masters of Construction Law, a program organized by RCU María Cristina in San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

In addition to her teaching career, Susana has practiced both civil and criminal law. She has written three monographs, numerous book chapters, law review articles, and she has participated in several legal research projects throughout her career.

Dr. Susana San Cristobal joined our Spain program in 2016 as a guest lecturer.  Since then she has come on board as a full partner in our Interpreter Training Program. Her knowledge of the Spanish legal system and ability to actively engage students is unparalleled.

Discovering the Parallels:
Civil Law vs US Common Law
MAY 21 – 27, 2023

Courses Include 20 hours of intense interpreter training


 Civil Law vs US Common Law (2 hours)

This session will provide participants with a historical and comparative study of Civil Law (Spanish speaking countries) and Common Law (US) so they can better understand the complexities of interpreting for LEPs from Civil Law countries. (Prof. Karen Borgenheimer)

Legalization of Documents + Sight Translation (2 hours)

Interpreters are frequently asked to Sight Translate documents from other countries in open court or in depositions, but what do all those stamps and seals mean? This course seeks to enhance the professional interpreter’s understanding of the International Protocol (Chain of Legalization) required for presenting legal documents from one country to another so that they are considered legally binding. This course includes an in-depth discussion of the role of the notary in civil law countries, the importance of the Hague Convention and the Apostille. Participants will then put this knowledge to use during Sight Translation practice. (Prof. Karen Borgenheimer)

Organization of the Spanish Court System (4 hours)

Participants will obtain a thorough understanding of the Organization of the Spanish Court System in preparation for the Madrid Courthouse visit. This session includes on ongoing Q+A to draw correlations between the U.S. Court System vs. Spanish Court System. (Prof. Susana San Cristobal)

Simultaneous Technique: Court + Conference Practice (4 hours)

This advanced skills building clinic seeks to help the professional interpreter improve Simultaneous Interpreting skills through specific techniques: Meaning vs Words, Fluid Listening, Queuing & Heeling, Extrapolation, and Speed + Performance tips. A distinction will be made between Court Interpreting and Conference Interpreting techniques with intense practice in each. All practice materials are original and designed to reinforce CORRECT interpreting technique. (Prof. Karen Borgenheimer + Cristina Ranuschio, Conference Interpreter).

Judge’s Rulings – An in-depth study + Guided Practice (4 hours)

This module will prove invaluable to the participants and enable them to better comprehend the language of the Court and arguments presented by the attorneys at trial and the ruling handed down during the Madrid courthouse visit. Special attention will be given to the specific terminology of the criminal court. Group Practice: Reverse Consecutive. (Prof. Borgenheimer and Prof. Susana San Cristobal)

Investigative Phase of Criminal Cases–Procedure and Terminology + Guest Speaker (4 hours)

This class will focus on the purpose and content of the investigative phase in criminal cases and the role police and crime scene experts play during the investigation. Special attention will be placed on the proper terminology required for interpreters to fulfill his/her duties during expert witness testimony. Participants will discuss investigative measures presented in Case Studies. (Prof. Susana San Cristobal)

Guided Visit to Madrid’s Audiencia Provincial – Criminal Courthouse

Participants will have a guided 3-hour visit to Madrid’s Audiencia Provincial where they will have the unprecedented opportunity to observe a criminal trial. This visit will solidify the participants’ understanding of the parallels between the two legal codes: Civil Law (Spain) and Common Common (US).

Continuing Education Credits: Florida, all others pending.