Nahed Arafat


School of Languages and Cultures

Research Assistant

Nahed Arafat
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Nahed Arafat
School of Languages and Cultures
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

After my first degree in English literature and the award of the DPSI (Diploma in Public service interpreting in Law), I completed my PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate in Education). My training practice involved teaching the DPSI to students wishing to become professional interpreters in public services in the first year, and ESOL (English for Speakers for Other Languages) in the second year. During my MA and Ph.D. studies in translation studies and intercultural communication, I applied my experience as a transcultural mental health worker and professional interpreter in therapeutic settings to gain a deeper understanding of language structural forms and meanings as well as the cultural perspectives of patients from different backgrounds. After this, I decided to pursue a career in postgraduate teaching and joined the University of Sheffield in November 2019. I worked with Dr Woodin to teach MA Intercultural Communication in Practice module. I also assessed and marked other MA module assignments, such as Tandem learning for Intercultural Communication, Concepts and Approaches in Intercultural Communication and Film Translation.

As someone who is interested in improving mental health services for Black and Minority Ethnic patients, I teamed up with Dr Woodin (School of Languages and Cultures) in 2021 to develop and deliver a training workshop aimed at improving intercultural competence among health and social care professionals in mental health settings in Sheffield. Using my own experience as a mental health worker and researcher into intercultural issues, as well as a survey of the results and interviews with health professionals, we developed and designed a taster training session. Since developing the workshop, I have been commissioned by the Health and Social Care Trust to run cultural awareness training workshops for professionals in Sheffield, enabling participants to become more knowledgeable and aware of the complex issues facing refugees and asylum seekers, and how cultural background, and religious and spiritual beliefs can impact on a patient’s engagement with healthcare. I have also run a similar training for Approved Mental Health Professionals at Hallam University.

Due to the lack of training and guidance that many novice and newly qualified interpreters face at the beginning of their careers in public service interpreting, my research and teaching interests have focused considerably on developing practical training guidance for interpreters in different public service settings outside the confines of the university. I have run a number of webinars with the Chartered Institute of Linguistics, and have developed, proofread and marked many of the DPSI annual examinations since 2016.  In addition, I have recently joined the DPSI online team as a level 3 assessor, and am interested in applying my research in many different settings.

Research interests

My experience in mental health, combined with my linguistic expertise as a professional interpreter in different public service settings, continues to influence my professional career as a lecturer/trainer in this field. I am very much interested in understanding and exploring the ways in which language and culture are used in mental health settings, the wider implications and/or challenges interpreters may face when interpreting in different public service settings, the ways in which speakers of other languages interact with each other, how the use of certain words reveals a great deal about people’s personalities and expresses power, and most importantly, how all of this impacts on accessing mental health services. My main research interests include language interpretation and translation, intercultural communication and discourse analysis.

Research group

I am a member of the British Association of applied Linguistics.

Teaching activities

I designed and developed the content for a six-week module and handbook on ‘Recognising and Expressing Emotional Feelings in Different Cultures’ as part of the Brilliant Club Teaching Programme in January 2020, working with A-level students from Sheffield who are aiming for 1st year undergraduate level.

I convene and/or teach on the following Master’s programme modules:

  • Intercultural Communication in Practice
Professional activities and memberships

I have worked with the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sheffield, providing multilingual/intercultural health expertise and discussions, and participated in the Knowledge Exchange KE embedding nature meanings and connections: intercultural stories project in 2023.

I provided consultancy and translation services for the Roots and Futures project at the University of Sheffield (Department of History) in 2021. The project explores the links between history, place and health and well-being.  A report documenting the findings and their implications for future heritage work with communities in Sheffield can be found at the following website.

In 2022/23, I have been invited to join the advisory group for the School for Social Care Research at the University of Manchester on their study to identify challenges and good practice in Mental Health Act Assessment when approved mental health professionals and interpreters work together, to provide expert advice and guidance to the research project.

External activities

Researcher Employability Project REP

I completed a REP placement at Barnsley General District Hospital from January 2016 to August 2016 as part of the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities PhD award. The project involved coordinating a community engagement event on behalf of the Trust, refreshing the equality and diversity strategy 2 actions and producing a draft plan with evidence of all information relating to the outcomes. I presented the findings at the Trust’s annual equality and diversity event in October 2016.

Invited Presentations

In 2017, I presented a paper titled ‘I wish I could speak the language’ at the British Association of Applied Linguistics 50th Anniversary Conference.

At the International 3rd English for Healthcare Conference in October 2017, Bern - Switzerland, I presented a paper entitled ‘The complexities involved in teaching and training medical professionals’.

In March 2018, Dr Woodin and I organised a round table discussion entitled ‘The complexities involved in doing research in more than one language’ at The TLANG International Conference Communication in the Multilingual City at the University of Birmingham.

In addition, in 2021 I presented a paper related to the linguistic construction of emotional challenges in a changing society at the Languaging diversity international conference, University of Lille, France. 

Other External Activities

  • In 2022, I was invited by the House of Common to give oral evidence on the Mental Health Bill as an academic expert from the University of Sheffield and as an Independent interpreter. My input focused mainly on language and cultural challenges, such as how some cultures view clinicians, the experiences patients may have had as refugees in the asylum system, the need to provide interpreters who understand the cultures, values and religious beliefs of groups as well as being able to speak the language, and the ability to explain rights and legislation in a language that is easy for patients to understand.
  • Proof-reader/Examiner for the Chartered Institute of Linguistics, Diploma in Public Services Interpreting Level 6 for Law, Health and Public Services examinations.


Arafat, N. 2023. In better health. The Linguist Magazine, (62/4), pp. 22-23. ISSN 0268-5965.

Arafat, N. 2023. 'Pronoun use in cross-cultural therapy session' in Laura P. Paterson (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Pronouns. pp. 350- 364. New York and London: Taylor and Francis Group.

Arafat, N. 2022. 'Grappling with Methodological Challenges when Researching Multilingual/Multicultural Issues in Therapy Setting' in Victoria Mabel (ed.) Methodological Issues and Challenges in Researching Transculturally. pp. 60-81. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholar Publishing.

Arafat, N. and Woodin, J. 2022. Opening up spaces for researching multilingually in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, DOI: 10/1080/13562517.2022. 2037545

Arafat, N. 2021, October 13-15. The expression of emotions and their cultural ties to Pakistani, Somali and Yemeni patients’ views of the world in cross-cultural therapy. [Paper presentation]. The linguistic construction of Emotional challenges in a changing society. Languaging diversity international conference, University of Lille, France. DOI: 10.48448/87nk-kj78

Arafat, N.M. 2021. One size does not fit all: key messages from Pakistani, Somali and Yemeni (PSY) patients in Sheffield, UK, regarding the language and cultural challenges of the IAPT programme. Perspectives in Public health, 141(5) ISSN 1757-9139 DOI:10.1177/17579139211011502

Arafat, N.M. 2018. The complexities involved in teaching and training therapists and health professionals. European Association of Language Teachers for Health Care EALTHY Magazine [online], (7), pp. 8-13. ISSN 2571-533X

Arafat, N.M. 2016. Language, culture and mental health: a study exploring the role of the transcultural mental health worker in Sheffield, UK. International Journal of Cultural and Mental Health, 9 (1), pp. 71-95. DOI:10.1080/17542863.2015.1112419