Are nurses in other nations bilingual? Should US be? - page 3

I had an arguement with one of my nurse practicioners yesterday. Irregardless of how any of us feel about immigrants, legal or illegal, it's very frustrating to have to treat a patient when you or... Read More

  1. by   Wise Woman RN
    We just use the language line... There is no way to learn to speak every language of the people that come to the hospital...
  2. by   mercyteapot
    I agree that knowing a second language- where I live, a third would be nice, too, as we have lots of Vietnamese and Spanish families around here- is a great advantage to a person in their job. However, that is what it should remain; an advantage, not a requirement. Why in God's name should the onus be on me to learn a foreign language? I am not the one who chose to leave my home so that I could benefit from the bounties of another nation.
  3. by   Wise Woman RN
    well spoken, Mercyteapot.
  4. by   TazziRN
    Quote from Tweety
    There is so much "patriotic" resistence in this country to teaching our kids a 2nd language, which naturally should be Spanish, "this is America and we speak English" here that people think it's a crazy idea.
    I think it's great that a second language is required for a university degree, but I have a problem with us having to learn a second language (namely Spanish) to accommodate them. And before anyone jumps on me for being biased, I am among the most unbiased people around. No other country caters to people who do not speak that country's language.

    As for the comment made in another post about waiting lists for ESL classes, that is not an excuse. People who really want to learn the language can learn it, they will find a way. A very large portion of our local Spanish-only population have lived here for years and they do not speak the language. I have had Spanish-only pts get mad at me because I don't speak Spanish. I am not talking about recent immigrants or visitors, I'm talking about people who have lived here long enough to raise their children and grandchildren here.

    I need to leave this thread.
  5. by   Myxel67
    I grew up in Mobile, AL. In 1961 I was part of an experiment to teach a foreign language to younger kids (not available 'til HS then) So at 12 I started Spanish class. I loved it and continued to take Spanish through HS. The college I went to after graduation required 2 years of a foreign language to get a B.A. degree. Those going on to law school also needed foreign language.

    Well, I ended up living in Miami, FL where half of the population is Spanish speaking. I didn't become a nurse until 1994. No nurses are required to speak Spanish, but it certainly comes in handy.

    Because there are so many people from Cuba and South and Central America, not many have assimilated well. According to Gloria Estefan, in Miami we don't have a melting pot, we have a salad bowl. It is possible to live here and never have to speak a word of English. Many people have lived here since the 1960's and don't speak English. But many do--about half of our physicians are Hispanic.

    The language question is really a hot potato here. At one point, Dade County passed a law making English our official language. It was struck down before too long. The schools here offer Spanish from first grade through 12th. But somehow, they keep repeating the same stuff through 6th grade, so not many actually learn Spanish. My kids certainly didn't, even though I tried to get them to speak Spanish with me.

    In my department we offer diabetes education classes in English and Spanish. Because I speak Spanish, the other RN in the department does not need to. If I left, though, the manager would be looking for a bilingual nurse in order for us to be able to serve our population.

    As many have said, no one in this country should be required to learn another language. However, in the real world, when 30 - 40% of potential customers speak a common language (other than English), businesses are going to accommodate them. I had a pt from Columbia who also spoke fluent English. He said he was afraid he was going to lose his English because when anyone saw his Spanish name, they immediately spoke to him in Spanish.

    I still love the Spanish language and it helps be immensely in my work. But there is way too much politics here regarding the Spanish/English issue.
    Last edit by Myxel67 on May 11, '07
  6. by   sonja77
    Quote from homicidalnurse
    darn! knew i was hitting a nerve, but what i'm really asking is, does anyone know where i could go for statistics, some facts, on how many other industrialized nations require a second language to graduate from a college or university?
    i'm german and graduated "high school" in germany. we have a different kind of school system there and after elementary school (4th grade), we can choose between 3 different schools to go to. they vary in their total length of school time (another 5, 6 or 9) years and their degree of difficulty. you have to have a degree (called abitur) from the longest and most difficult school to be able to go to a university. i went to that particular kind of school and we had to choose a second language in 5th grade and a third language in 7th grade. i choose french in 5th grade (and dropped it after 10th grade) and english in 7th grade. so i had a total of 6 years of french and 7 years of english. but i have to say that i was nowhere near fluent in french and my english wasn't all that great either.

    if i would have gone to a university to study anything other than a language, i wouldn't have had to worry about ever learning another language nor needing what i had learned in "high school".

    so, to add my opinion to the discussion, i agree with mulan, if you choose to live in a country: learn their language. i don't expect people over here to learn german, i had to learn english in order to live, go to school and work here!


  7. by   christel08
    i dont think we learn the basics in school to incorporate another language..especially since they cut music programs and physical education which for me is very important...however, the only language that im willing to learn is sign language...
  8. by   land64shark
    Not a whole lot of tolerance in this thread. I agree with Tweety about the "patriotic" resistance, but there is also prejudice. My own husband is vehamently opposed to having bilingual traffic signs and such. "We speak English here" he says. Well, he's not a U.S. citizen and has no plans to be one, so it's not that he's patriotic. He comes from another English speaking county, Canada. Sure sounds like prejudice to me, especially when he discourages my daughter from taking Spanish in school and encourages French instead (because it's an "intelligent language"). :trout: Unfortunately, he's not alone in his thinking.
  9. by   carolinapooh
    Quote from sockmonkey70
    Well how is it possible for kids/adults in other nations to learn multiple languages and still be competent in Science, Math, and Comprehension skills? Why are we special just because we are American?
    Forgive my ethno/Amero/Eurocentrism here for just a moment, but you do realize that these people are learning English to compete within the world market, and not for any sort of multicultural/politically correct sort of motives, right? (And I do realize that it's either Mandarin or Cantonese Chinese that is spoken by more people in the world than any other language, so why aren't we learning THAT? Or Japanese? Or ARABIC?)

    I DO think that we should know a second language (I am dying to learn German, my sister speaks fluent Russian and I've already said my husband speaks German and French) and we should be able to speak it with some degree of skill. But to capitulate to immigrants who aren't interested in the language of the nation they're living in...no, I don't agree with it.

    And socioeconomics has little to do with it - I know someone's going to go there. Most people - and I say most loosely; I'm not implying all - have a television. You don't need cable to get public TV; "Sesame Street" is a great place to start.

    Spanish would arguably be the most useful second language in most places in the US, but that doesn't mean we should be forced to learn it.
  10. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from carolinapooh
    Forgive my ethno/Amero/Eurocentrism here for just a moment, but you do realize that these people are learning English to compete within the world market, and not for any sort of multicultural/politically correct sort of motives, right? (And I do realize that it's either Mandarin or Cantonese Chinese that is spoken by more people in the world than any other language, so why aren't we learning THAT? Or Japanese? Or ARABIC?)

    I DO think that we should know a second language (I am dying to learn German, my sister speaks fluent Russian and I've already said my husband speaks German and French) and we should be able to speak it with some degree of skill. But to capitulate to immigrants who aren't interested in the language of the nation they're living in...no, I don't agree with it.

    And socioeconomics has little to do with it - I know someone's going to go there. Most people - and I say most loosely; I'm not implying all - have a television. You don't need cable to get public TV; "Sesame Street" is a great place to start.

    Spanish would arguably be the most useful second language in most places in the US, but that doesn't mean we should be forced to learn it.
    I agree. I guess I'm dense, but I need someone to explain to me (in English, please) why I should be compelled to learn Spanish just because the economic or political circumstances of other countries compel people who speak that language to come here in search of a better life? Great, welcome, but please disabuse yourself of the notion, here and now, that your presence here is of such importance that I should be forced to master your language so that you are able to access my services.

    As far as I'm concerned, immigrants are the ones who should be feeling compelled to learn what is for them a foreign language. Any other approach smacks strongly of wanting to have your cake and eat it, too.
  11. by   wmarat
    Defenetly, Americans do not have to learn another language and undoubtedly all kinds of immigrants have to learn an American ( Language you speek is not English)
    Last edit by sirI on May 12, '07 : Reason: TOS
  12. by   miko014
    Oh give me a break, wmarat! We speak English here, because the first European settlers here were from England. I'm not getting into the whole Native American debate. It might be a different dialect, but it is English. Don't go there, that is ridiculous.

    I, for one, would love to be bilingual, but not because I want to make it easier for people to come here illegally and benefit from our system without doing anything to help themselves. If you come here legally, welcome! If not, get out. In my experience, the people who are here legally are not the problem. I have a friend who moved here from China when he was 8. He learned English by watching Sesame Street, and mastered it when he started school here.

    I also work with a wonderful woman from India. She was precepting an equally nice fellow from the Philippines, who had a lot of trouble with his English when he first got here (was here for educational purposes). This woman speaks wonderful English (probably better than a lot of Americans I know who are just sloppy, lol), but she does have a rather strong accent. Anyway, she was getting very frustrated with this lad because he refused to say things the way we say them (ex: taping report, he would say "laboratory values" instead of "labs"), and she finally said, "JohnDoe, this is America! You have to say things the way we say them here!". Just goes to show that us dumb Americans are not the only ones who feel that you should learn the language of the country in which you reside.

    I have been saying since I was in elementary school that there should be a universal language that everyone can speak so that we can all communicate with each other, but it will never happen. So we have to do the best we can. If I ever move to Sweden, I will learn Swedish. Otherwise, I don't think that I will be able to learn another language and keep it up. I took 5 years of Spanish, but use it so infrequently that all I remember now are the basics. Sorry, this is getting too long. I'll stop now. :trout:
    Last edit by sirI on May 12, '07 : Reason: referred to a post that was edited
  13. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from wmarat
    Defenetly, Americans do not have to learn another language and undoubtedly all kinds of immigrants have to learn an American ( Language you speek is not English)
    We speak English here. As with any language that is spoken in more than one country, there are some differences, but that doesn't change it into a language that doesn't exist.
    Last edit by sirI on May 12, '07 : Reason: referred to a post that was edited

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