Category Archives: Language Training

Growing demand for medical interpreters in Texas and across US –via Austin American-Statesman


By Liliana Valenzuela – ¡Ahora Sí!

Imagine having to tell your grandmother that she has cancer when you haven’t assimilated the news yourself. That’s what happened to Mark Villafuerte when he had to interpret between English and Spanish for his ailing grandma, when he was in his twenties.

With the growing number of people who speak Spanish at home — estimated to reach 43.1 million in 2020 in the United States, according to the Census Bureau 2011 projections — there’s more need than ever for professionally-trained medical interpreters, who bridge languages and cultures. In the Austin Independent School District alone, three out of five students are Hispanic (60 percent) and at least 24,000 students speak Spanish at home. Interpreters provide an essential service, and there are various training options locally.

Villafuerte, now 40, is a professional medical interpreter. He turned what had been years of informal training working different jobs in the medical field, plus a one-week intensive program at the University of Texas, into a career. He remembers that prior to this, because he was bilingual, “I would be pulled from one room to another” to communicate between doctors and nurses who only spoke English and patients who only spoke Spanish.

Not too long ago, untrained volunteers and even children were asked to translate sensitive information to patients, without knowing the proper medical terms or really understanding what was going on medically with the person.

“Am I saying this right?,” Villafuerte remembers thinking. “It’s hard for a kid to be responsible for an adult.”

To read more of this article courtesy of the Austin American-Statesman —> click here.



Medical interpreting is growing industry led by UMass Medical School — via UMass


UMass Medical School’s statewide medical interpreter training program, conducted in partnership with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, leads the way in this growing industry, according to an article in the Sunday Telegram & Gazette.

“A good interpreter is interpreting everything that is said,” Lisa Morris, director of Cross Cultural Initiatives at UMass Medical School, told the Telegram for the March 2 story. “It is not listening to someone’s story and then giving a summarized rendition, which is what generally folks do when they are not trained. Trained interpreters deliver everything. It should be as if it were a recording, without deleting any part of the message.”

The article about the rising demand for medical interpreters features the Massachusetts Medical Interpreter Training Program, which has run for the past 15 years as part of the Commonwealth Medicine division’s Massachusetts Area Health Education Center Network.

“Fundamentals of Medical Interpreting” is a 60-hour course offered at six regional MassAHEC offices in the fall and spring, and occasionally summer. It is geared to staff at health care facilities that serve patients enrolled in MassHealth. Applicants must pass a fluency exam in English and a foreign language before they can be accepted.

The program provides interpreters with training in anatomy, physiology and medical terminology in both English and the foreign language, Morris told the Telegram. “People don’t usually use medical terminology in their everyday language, so we review this to make sure they are familiar with it,” she said.

Read the full article at: Telegram & Gazette: Medical interpreting a growing industry

Related links on UMassMedNow:

Medical interpreters prepare for certification

MassAHEC named Language Access Champion: National Council on Interpreting in Health Care honors Medical Interpreter Training program

Interpreters for limited English patients shorten hospital stays

Successful Massachusetts medical interpreter training program goes to Texas

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No language barriers, Green Tree’s WeSpeke gets the world talking –via Keystone Edge

In his 30-year career as a tech entrepreneur, Mike Elchik has traveled extensively around the world. But no matter how many tapes, CDs and foreign phrase books he would pore over on those long flights, “being in a café in Paris is a completely different experience,” he says. “There is a social aspect to learning language. There is a human interaction.”
With the realization, too, that billions worldwide were chattering in their native languages on multiple social networks and that global perspective and language skills are prized in today’s economy, Elchik and Dr. Jaime Carbonell, director of the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon  founded WeSpeke in 2010.
The platform allows participants around the world to connect with others who share their interests, to learn languages and grow cultural awareness. Elchik describes it as “Skype meets Rosetta Stone meets Wikipedia meets EHarmony meets Facebook.”
WeSpeke launched its site in February, supporting French and English. Spanish, German, Portuguese and Italian came online in June and next up are Mandarin, Russian and Arabic.
To read more of this article courtesy of Keystone Edge click the link below.


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Google Translate: 10 reasons why it’s no match for learning a language –via The Guardian

Foreign language dictionaries

Google Translate: 10 reasons why it’s no match for learning a language

Modern languages are in decline at British universities. Can Google’s translation service ever fill the gap?

The number of British universities offering specialist modern-language courses is in sharp decline. Is it possible that this collapse might be partly down to the rise of free software such as Google Translate? After all, why waste several years of your life perfecting every last conversational nuance of a second language when you can listlessly prod “CAN I HAVE SOME CHIPS?” on to your phone and then wave a screen reading “POSSO TER UM POUCO CHIPS?” in the face of a disappointed Portuguese waiter?

Obviously, this is terribly misguided. Google Translate will never be any substitute for learning a foreign language, and here’s why:

1 Google Translate is only good when there’s internet. Without seriously learning a language, all you could say to a French person offline is whatever you memorised at school. In my case this would amount to “bank”, “swimming pool” and “Hello my name is Stuart, I am 11 years old”.

2 If Google Translate had been responsible for the English version of The Girl From Ipanema (originally, in Portuguese, Garota de Ipanema), Frank Sinatra would have had to croon “Girl in the golden body, sun From Ipanema, The It swung its more than a poem”, which doesn’t really scan as well.

3 If everybody relied on Google Translate, exchange trips would become a thing of the past. You’d miss that mutely chainsmoking 14-year-old Belgian boy with a full beard who glowers at you from the kitchen table.

To read more of this article courtesy of The Guardian, click the link below.


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How the Brain Benefits From Being Bilingual–via Time


Never mind how well spoken you might be now, you will never again be as adept with languages as the day you were born. Indeed, the youngest person in any room is almost always the best linguist there too. There are 6,800 languages in the world, and since you can’t know where you’ll be born, you have to pop from the womb to be able to speak any one of them. That talent fades fast — as early as nine months after birth, some of our language synapses start getting pruned away. But well into your grammar-school years, your ability to learn a second — or third or fourth — language is still remarkable.

That, it turns out, is very good for the brain. New studies are showing that a multilingual brain is nimbler, quicker, better able to deal with ambiguities, resolve conflicts and even resist Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia longer. All of this is prompting public schools to implement language-immersion programs for kids as young as kindergarteners, as I report in the new issue of TIME; nowhere is that more evident than in Utah, where 20% of all public schools offer K-12 dual-language instruction, with students taking half their classes every day in English and half in either Spanish, French, Mandarin or Portuguese. To date, representatives from 22 other states have gone to Utah to learn more about the program.

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