"You're gonna need to learn Spanish...." - page 3

I'm a new RN, just started orientation last week. I met with my preceptor on the floor for the first time a few days ago and he made the comment, "Working here, you're gonna need to learn Spanish". I... Read More

  1. by   anne74
    It does save time to know a little Spanish - I have a minor in it and I'm going to take an additional medical Spanish course. Many times the pts are happy and relieved to have someone speak in their language, and I've never had a pt chastise my broken Spanish.

    BUT - I do agree that we shouldn't be enabling these people to not learn English. A driver's license test in Spanish? Seriously?

    Whenever I've traveled outside of the country, I've studied the country's culture and tried to learn some key words. I consider myself a guest there, and I respect their culture. So I don't understand why some feel entitled.
    I'm guessing they may be rude sometimes because they're scared and not familiar with our culture - but that's not fair to us. We really need to find a better way to control our borders - the situation is only getting worse.
  2. by   nurse4theplanet
    It takes several years to become fluent in another language. And there are more languages in the world than one could learn in a lifetime. I don't think anyone is advocating that we try to learn several different languages, merely, that we try to learn a few simple basics of a given language if we serve a large pt population that speaks that language. Makes perfect sense to me. What do you have to lose?
  3. by   TazziRN
    I have had people come into the ER actually get angry with me because I don't speak Spanish. I've also had people who I know speak English refuse to and insist on a Spanish interpreter. If I live in another country I will learn the language. I think it's wonderful to be multilingual, but not to accomodate people who live in an English-speaking country.
  4. by   TazziRN
    Quote from asoldierswife05
    I work with an equipment tech from Africa and he speaks five different languages fluently!
    Including English, right?
  5. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Quote from SCRN1
    All I've gotta say is that if I were to visit or move to a foreign country, I would not expect them to conform to my needs/language and I feel it should go the other way around to those who want to come to my country.
    I agree with this.
  6. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Quote from asoldierswife05
    I think American's are very close minded and ethnocentric when it comes to learning languages other than English. I work with an equipment tech from Africa and he speaks five different languages fluently! That is amazing to me. If you travel to other countries, Europe especially, you will find many people who speak two or more languages fluently. Trying to get some Americans to learn even a few simple words of another language is like pulling teeth.

    Speak for someone else.

    Has nothing to do with being closed-minded, i do know some Spanish now, my eventual goal is to be fluent in it (along with ASL). But i do get peeved when someone's been in the US for decades and does not know one WORD of English, does NOT make the effort to learn it, etc. It's apparently too much to ask to be met half way or part of the way on the language barrier. There is no way in heck that i could ever THINK of going to a non-English speaking or unpredominantly English speaking country, and expect the 'locals' to conform to me.
    Last edit by Marie_LPN, RN on Feb 11, '07
  7. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    On a side note, about the Spanish driver's test, my thought is if a person can't take an English drivers test in a predominantly English speaking country, how do i know that same person know what a Yield or Stop sign is??
    Last edit by Marie_LPN, RN on Feb 11, '07
  8. by   Spidey's mom
    I think the particular situation the OP found herself in was very hard - my heart goes out to the poor patient.

    I commend anyone who wants to learn Spanish or any other language - there is no way that every patient you will ever have will speak English. There are times that we need to translate for a patient. It is unrealistic to think otherwise. Even though I too think people should make every attempt to learn English.

    Plus it is always an asset to be able to speak a second language. Marketable.

    I've read that it even staves off Alzheimers . . . .

    steph
  9. by   wooh
    Quote from TazziRN
    I've also had people who I know speak English refuse to and insist on a Spanish interpreter.
    Just because they speak English doesn't mean they're fluent in medical English, and doesn't mean that they are comfortable counting on their English skills in a stressful situation. When I'm scared and stressed, my English skills get limited, and it's my first language! If it was my second language, I'd hate to think that I might say something wrong inadvertently that could make a huge difference in my or my family member's care. I'd much rather they insist on a Spanish interpreter than give me information that's wrong because they used the wrong words.

    I want to learn Spanish. I'm trying. I speak enough that I've had new coworkers think I'm fluent. (Amazing how overhearing "My name is wooh, I'll be your nurse for the day, everything ok? Questions? I speak a little Spanish, so you speak English?" with decent pronunciation will fool people!) I can do ok on rounds with settled patients, but when I ask if they have questions, I'll get the LL or interpreter. But for admits and discharges, I want to make absolutely sure everything is understood on both sides, so I always get the LL out on those, and preferably the interpreter (I really feel face to face is so much better.)

    It would be great if they learned English before they came to the hospital. But I get lots of scared moms, and when your at home with the kids all day, you get limited practice. It's HARD to learn another language. Lack of practice is the big thing holding me back. I learn new phrases, but by the time it comes to use them, it's already floated out of my brain. These are folks that just want a better life for themselves and their kids. Yeah, there's a few rude ones, but by far, my Hispanic patients always tend to be so wonderful. They want to learn, they're grateful for the care. They're not the ones on the call light complaining that their waffles for breakfast weren't freshly prepared from scratch instead of frozen. Learning spanish is the least I can do for people that actually appreciate my care!
  10. by   nurse4theplanet
    Quote from Marie_LPN
    Speak for someone else.

    Has nothing to do with being closed-minded, i do know some Spanish now, my eventual goal is to be fluent in it. But i do get peeved when someone's been in the US for decades and does not know one WORD of English, does NOT make the effort to learn it, etc. It's apparently too much to ask to be met half way or part of the way on the language barrier. There is no way in heck that i could ever THINK of going to a non-English speaking or unpredominently English speaking country, and expect the 'locals' to conform to me.
    I don't know what about my post struck a nerve with you. If you are making an attempt to learn any spanish, then obviously you do not possess the attitude I was referring to. SOME Americans are VERY close minded to becoming bilingual. I never addressed my feelings on people who move to this country and refuse to learn in English.
  11. by   wooh
    Quote from SCRN1
    All I've gotta say is that if I were to visit or move to a foreign country, I would not expect them to conform to my needs/language and I feel it should go the other way around to those who want to come to my country.
    While I agree, if I was in another country, I'd be ever so grateful to anyone that did speak English and could help me out!
  12. by   CaLLaCoDe
    I just had a thought aside from the big controversy LOL

    Aren't we as nurses responsible to let our client's understand their meds before their taking them and responsible for teaching them before their going to procedures and responsible to therapeutically communicate with them????

    Could we be sued for malpractice for not holding to all of our required duties as a nurse because we refuse to speak the foreign tongue!

    Just a thought OMG....!!!!

    PS. I was also thinking would we ever consider making Spanish the official second language of California. If Spanish were taught in school and it were a requirement to graduate HS, maybe this would solve our language barrier problem? Just a thought lol ;-)
    Last edit by CaLLaCoDe on Feb 11, '07
  13. by   nurse4theplanet
    Quote from TeleRNer
    I just had a thought aside from the big controversy LOL

    Aren't we as nurses responsible to let our client's understand their meds before their taking them and responsible for teaching them before their going to procedures and responsible to therapeutically communicate with them????

    Could we be sued for malpractice for not holding to all of our required duties as a nurse because we refuse to speak the foreign tongue!

    Just a thought OMG....!!!!
    You pose a very interesting question. I think it would depend on the various methods you used to find a way to bridge the language barrier...use of interpreters, the language hotline, and literature in their native tongue. If these are not adequate, and an adverse event occurs, I think it you would not be held liable if you had used the appropriate resources available to at least attempt to communicate.

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