Close the Parent-Teacher Gap By Removing The Language Barrier

Parent teacher conferences. Parent-Teacher Association meetings. Field trips, social outings, and school-wide events. All these things offer opportunities for teachers and parents to connect and communicate.

But what if teachers and parents don’t even speak the same language?

And what about all the written material that gets sent home with a student? Flyers, information packets, progress reports, project rubrics, schedules, busing information, report cards, even email and standard letters. What if the parent can’t actually understand it because it’s written in a different language?

We’d say that’s a problem.

The United States of the Melting Pot

America has long been called a melting pot of nations, and for good reason. Over the last century, people from all over the world have traveled to America and made it their home. We have pockets of nearly every culture and nation in various states and cities around the country.

Politicking aside, immigrants and refugees make up a substantial portion of America. The New York Times reports that around 15% of Americans are immigrants, and an infographic from Telelanguage.com  shows that “more than 12 million children in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home.”

And while young students can quickly and easily pick up English as a second language through schools and social interaction, it doesn’t come as easily or quickly for their parents. Learning a new language becomes more difficult in adolescence and young adulthood. It’s not impossible, but it’s much harder. Business Insider reports that the language development in children slows dramatically around puberty — with kids learning the bulk of language between infancy and age five.

For many people who come to the U.S., learning English comes only after establishing housing, work, and education for their kids. Some aren’t able to afford English courses or lessons for themselves and focus mainly on providing for their families.

This means there are countless families where parents do not speak the same language as their children’s teachers. The child is entrusted to relay the information between the two parties. And if you’ve ever tried to send a message through one of your children to a family member across the house, well, you know how well that turns out.

Lost in Translation

Yes, “lost in translation” is a real thing.

And if it takes a village to raise a child, it’s imperative that parents and teachers be able to communicate with each other. Chalkbeat, a Colorado-based education news website, reports that many cross-cultural parents “feel left out of their children’s education.”

We may all be starkly different, with all shades of skin color, cultural traditions, distinct foods, and unique clothing, there’s one thing everyone has in common: we all care about our kids.

Translation agencies like Worldwide Interpreters LLC can help bridge the gap between parents and teachers. There are too many important moments in a child’s life to let a language barrier keep them from educational success.

Worldwide Interpreters LLC services the metro-Detroit area with quailed, expert interpreters with experience in legal, medical, finance, insurance, religious, and business translation. Established in 1968, Worldwide Interpreters LLC has a fifty-year reputation in the metro-Detroit area and can service court systems, hospitals and mental health providers, and government agencies.

Connect with Worldwide Interpreters LLC at wwinterpreters.com.

Worldwide Interpreters – A foundation of service

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One-woman show

Adrijana Randolph founded Worldwide Interpreters in 1968 in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Adrijana began Worldwide Interpreters because she foresaw the future demand for language services and solutions in the Metro-Detroit area

With her cultural and global savvy, Adrijana took Worldwide Interpreters farther than anyone could have imagined. She worked tirelessly growing her business and providing a rock-solid foundation of services.

She was a one-woman show, dispatching interpreters and translators before the time of cell phones, texting and Google maps!

Adrijana’s clients were mindful of the hard work and dedication she utilized to complete her tasks and called her a credit to the profession and to the community.

Enter stage left

Originally, I began my career in the automotive industry. I worked as an automotive tool designer responsible for drafting components for automotive assembly lines.

In the 80’s and 90’s automotive tool design was a massive industry in the Detroit area and it was all paper based!

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Here’s a picture one of my past colleagues posted on LinkedIn recently. A trip down memory lane for sure! I am not in this picture of course, but it’s a great example of a drafting room and how we all had our noses to paper.

We did everything manually on drafting tables.  It’s the 80’s version of “text-neck”.

Technology shifts the workforce

In the late 90’s new technology arrived into our industry and eliminated the need for hand-drawn designs. All the hand-drawn drafting models now were being done by CAD software. I was one of the casualties of the industry turnover.

After the layoff, I was very fortunate to work for many years at military defense company which was a military supplier for the government. However, again that type of work dried up.

Mom knows best

My mother worked for Adrijana as an interpreter. She told me that Adrijana was very busy and needed office help. Initially, I went into her office and helped her process paperwork for just two days a week. As her business grew, so did my responsibilities and hours spent assisting Adrijana at Worldwide Interpreters.

Adrijana and I worked great together, and it’s there where I found my calling to help bridge the gap between language and culture through translation and interpreting.

Being a child of immigrants myself, I have always had a passion for assisting people of all nations to feel welcomed, accepted and heard.

 

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Sandy Rochette and Adrijana P. Randolph

When Adrijana was ready to retire in 2013, I was honored to purchase her business and continue her legacy of helping others understand and communicate no matter the language.

Here’s a picture of us when we signed the legal papers.

It’s an honor to carry on Adrijana’s work as she is now enjoying her retirement and fruits of her labor.

Interpreting services in healthcare, mental health, and social care

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Healthcare in the United States is dealing with a lack of qualified professional medical interpreters.  The demand for medical interpreters has overcome the supply in the United States.  According to the US Census Bureau, 25 million people living in the US are Limited English Proficient (LEP).  The US Census Bureau data is from 2015, as of 2018, the number has increased.

In healthcare settings, there has been a tendency to use goodhearted, unqualified, bilinguals such as family, friends, or staff.  Unfortunately, these good-hearted people are just not trained to act as medical interpreters.  Regrettably, it is not fair and a hazardous situation for the patient, organization and the bilingual Samaritan.  For these reasons and more listed below, it is of utmost importance that hospitals, doctor offices, mental health and social care use trained medical interpreters.

Healthcare

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As mentioned above the need for medically trained interpreters in healthcare settings is crucial.  In an article published by Harvard Medical School, recent studies “indicate that patients with limited English proficiency receive less preventive care, are less likely to adhere to medication regimens and are more likely to leave the hospital against medical advice.”

Unfortunately, healthcare settings are not adequately staffed to handle LEP patients.  Healthcare providers need trained medical interpreters on staff 24/7 to fill the need of patients and families.  Individual medical practices that see patients by appointment may utilize the services of Language Service Provider agencies or freelance interpreters.

It’s important to remember that a highly specialized trained interpreter will have a good understanding of not just languages, but also cultures.  For example, patients might practice certain customs that are not standard practice in the United States such as diet restrictions, wardrobe traditions, and rituals.  A highly trained and specialized interpreter can inform the medical team ahead of time, so the patients are not uncomfortable or offended.

Mental health

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Interpreters are also needed to assist patients and families with mental health issues.  Mental health concepts in Western and non-Western cultures are vastly different.  A trained mental health interpreter can help both the patient and medical staff feel comfortable and deal with any issue appropriately.

Interpreters in emergency rooms or appointments may encounter a patient dealing with depression, anxiety or PTSD.  Training in these types of conditions is critical for effective communication to occur between doctor and patient.

Social care

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The translation and interpretation need in social care settings is often an overlooked arena.  Translators and Interpreters are necessary to build a bridge in working relationships across class, gender, immigration status, sexuality, language, and race.  For reasons beyond my scope of knowledge, I’ve included a link to an article that goes into great depth the need for interpreters in social work situations.

Pharmacy

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Medical interpreting in pharmacies is another area of healthcare that hasn’t receive the most qualified resources.  Often medical staff may make use of a patient’s English-speaking family members, use bilingual staff or worse yet “google-it.”

Untrained interpreters and translation tools in pharmacies can be dangerous.  Even the smallest wrong prescription direction can be a matter of life and death to a patient.

A typical example is of the word “once.” In English, “once” means one time.  However, in Spanish, “once” is the means 11!   Oh my goodness, taking 11 doses of medication instead of one a considerable problem with dangerous and possibly fatal consequences.

Being able to interpret medical information would be a tremendous help in communicating with non-English speaking patients who may think they know the right dosage, but don’t. Interpreting would lessen the chance of a dosage error and reduce the pharmacy’s liability for any accidents.

All pharmacies should have access to trained medical interpreters for quality patient care and protection from legal ramifications.

Five reasons professional interpreting services are critical in healthcare

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  1. Professionally trained medical interpreters are trained in medical terminology, cultural competence, the healthcare system, interpreter code of ethics, and national standard protocols
  2. Language barriers between doctors and patients may cause misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment
  3. Professionally trained medical interpreters understand their role and the delicate balance between patient, family and the medical team.  Interpreters are trained to know when to be quiet and let the patient speak and when to speak up and advocate for the patient
  4. Costs of professional medical interpreters will be far less than lawsuits resulting from misdiagnosis, or mistreatment, or death.
  5. A language barrier can be the difference between life and death.

I hope this information is helpful to patients, families and healthcare teams in clarifying the need for more professionally trained interpreters in the United States.

The difference between Interpreters and Translators

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Worldwide Interpreters is a language service agency offering both interpreting and translating services. Often, the words interpretation and translation are used interchangeably. So then, what’s the difference between interpreting and translating?

The difference

Helping someone understand a different language is a common thread between interpreting and translating, but it’s in the service where the difference comes out.

Interpreting services cover all oral communication

Translating services covers all written communication

Immediate interpreting services

Interpreters deal with oral communication. To help remember, I like to think of Interpreting as Immediate.

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An interpreter listens to spoken words in one language and within seconds (immediate) speaks or signals the interpretation into a second language. Interpreters must be fluent in both the source and target language.

Not only does the interpreter listen and remember but they also process the words into the context of culture. Because of cultural differences in both language and communication, the interpreter often paraphrases or rewords the statements.

Interpreters must capture the tone, inflections, voice quality, and other unique elements of the spoken word and then convey these verbal cues to the audience.

As you can understand, the skills and abilities of an interpreter are highly specialized and require concentration, quick thinking, and a good memory.

Tools of the trade

Unfortunately, an interpreter doesn’t have many physical tools to aid in carrying out their duties. A notepad and pen or pencil may be their only tools.

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Depending upon the scenario an interpreter may carry out their work in isolation only listening through a headset.  This helps the interpreter to keep distractions down to an absolute minimum.

Other than the interpreter booth, interpreters are usually in plain sight, face-to-face and in the public eye.

 

 

 

Projects: Interpreters work on projects involving live translation in person, over the phone, or via video. Usually, Interpreters travel to different locations such as conferences, meetings, medical appointments and legal proceedings.

Time for Translating services

Translators deal with written words. To help remember, I like to think of Translating services that deal with text and time.

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Translators usually have ample time to utilize technologies and reference materials to generate accurate, high-quality translations.

A translator reads documents either written or online in one language and translates them into a second language. Translators have more time because translation can happen long after the source text is created.

A translator produces translated text that feels as if it were created in the language it is presented. To do this, translators almost always only translate into their native language. However, the translator understands the source language and the culture of the country where the text originated as much as they have a knowledge and an understanding of the culture of the target language.

Translators are very detail oriented people with excellent grammar and spelling in both languages. Also, many translators are very proficient with technology as some of the tools and projects are software based.

Tools of the Trade

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Translators can make use of CAT tools, dictionaries and a vast database of reference material at their disposal.

Projects: Translators work on any information in written form: Websites, print, video, and software. Translators may work with legal and medical documents, gaming software, and movie subtitles to name a few.

 

 

Which service do you need?

I hope this information helps you to learn the difference between interpreting and translating services. Please contact me for more details on how Worldwide Interpreters can help you with all your interpreting and translating needs.