Speaking native languages at work... - page 4

A Sacramento hospital this week passed around a questionare to its nurses. Here is the question... Diversity Council Needs You! To give us input on the question of staff members using their... Read More

  1. by   LasVegasRN
    No darts here, jnette. Excellent point.
  2. by   jnette
    Whew ! Thanx, Vegas !

    Guess because I've "been there", it allows me to take a more objective view. We in America tend to look at things through our own eyes only, and forget that there is a whole WORLD out there.
    WE are not the WORLD. It sometimes helps to put on a different set of glasses and see things from another perspective, not just our own. To just "turn the situation around" and put yourself INTO that situation. Then to be totally HONEST about how you would act, respond, etc.

    That's all I was trying to say here.

    I'll keep my armour on awhile longer yet, though !
  3. by   LasVegasRN
    If I got up the moxy to move to Norway, you bet your sweet bippie I'd be learning Norwegian and would be comfortable with it when I got there.

    Now, if I'm on the nursing floor speaking my Norwegian, and I hear another new nurse speaking my native tongue, English, OF COURSE I'd automatically gravitate to that person and have a lively conversation! To think otherwise is silly. Of course we should be mindful of others while we are doing this. But to say it's rude, no, if you were in the reverse situation, you'd find yourself doing the exact same thing.
  4. by   RNinICU
    Originally posted by jnette
    Just a little bit of different perspective here... want to play devil's advocate for a minute...(although I agree with most of what has been said, especially around the patients and when discussing nursing assigments, etc.)

    BUT... imagine yourselves working in France, Germany..wherever, for whatever reason.

    You also happen to have several other nurses there from America. Would it not be the most natural thing in the world for you to "automatically" speak your native tongue with your fellow US nurses? And on breaks? Would you REALLY speak German or French with your US buddies? Must we always assume someone is talking about us when speaking another language? Why are we so paranoid?
    In Europe it is so common to hear other languages spoken at all times in the working environment and no one takes offense...
    They would never attempt to control your choice of conversational language in Germany if you happened to be from France, the US or wherever. When dicussing patient issues in the presence of a patient, yes.. otherwise no. Can't help but think it's rude and arrogant of US to expect others to ALWAYS speak OUR language at ALL times ! We have no right controlling anyone's choice of speaking their native tongue.. I feel it's wrong to do so. (again, I'm referring to personal conversations... which DO happen and should be allowed to happen even at work).

    Put the shoe on the other foot and just TRY to imagine yourself in a foreign country surrounded by a foreign language you had learned just to work there. Then finding yourself amongst "buddies" from the good ol' US ! I can't believe you'd never be speaking english with them at work...it would be the natural thing to do. Sure.. be concientious when discussing nursing issues with coworkers and make an effort to not appear to be alienating or "rude"... but don't tell me what language I'm allowed to speak or when... hey.. this IS America and part of its greatness is freedom of choice and freedom of speech.. in WHATEVER language!

    Just food for thought...I'm ready for the darts...

    :chuckle
    No darts from me either. I agree 100%
  5. by   Momto3RN
    Jnette, I completely understand your meaning.
    Having lived in France, it was not easy for me to speak French ALL the time, especially since I was with several Americans. However, if a French person was present with us who didn't understand English, I would always speak in French.

    Common courtesy rules!
  6. by   jnette
    You got it, Girl ! I'd venture to say none of us speak Phillipino, but I would certainly understand their need to relate to each other and speak with oneanother in their mother tongue.. I would not be offended by this at all ! Unless, of course, I was the ONLY one not speaking their language and we were all socializing or working together on a common goal or project. Then I would expect to be included. But if I had others around me who spoke english, their speaking their language is fine with me!
  7. by   donmurray
    Perhaps a 'Merkin' phrasebook could be produced, with tricky words like "Nucular" and "Potatoe" .........Just kidding!
  8. by   rebelwaclause
    Jnette....Yeah...I see your point of view. I'll keep this in mind. Thanks!

    Vegas...Yes, I probably would gravitate to the English speaking people if I was in a foreign country.

    I may be wrong here, but I thought most countries acknowledge English as a "world" language? Also, I think sometimes (not always) it has nothing to do with comfort, it has to do with an advantage of others not understanding something the speaker DOES NOT WANT understood.

    Either way, I'm only annoyed when I feel the topic involves me, for example I'm questioned about something at work then the same person starts speaking in a native language to someone across the room, still reviewing the chart, med, etc with me and the answer is obviously about "my" topic, because I'm asked more questions.

    Or how many of you have ever mistakenly pissed of an order taker at a restaurant (Mexican, Chinese, Ethiopian, etc.), because you ordered a menu item and they mistakingly ordered something different - because they didn't understand you. No matter how many times you "confirmed" the order, it was still wrong and you can tell they are upset and talking about you...BAD! (hahahaha).

    Sometimes for peace sakes I just say its my fault and try a new dish.
  9. by   Cherry Soda
    If I worked in France I would speak French. If I worked with 3 Americans and one French nurse and the French nurse was standing there I would speak FRENCH.

    I would only speak ENGLISH if I was in the company of my fellow Americans.

    It is RUDE and CLASSLESS to do otherwise.

    Cherry
  10. by   SKM-NURSIEPOOH
    originally posted by jnette
    just a little bit of different perspective here... want to play devil's advocate for a minute...(although i agree with most of what has been said, especially around the patients and when discussing nursing assigments, etc.)

    but... imagine yourselves working in france, germany..wherever, for whatever reason.

    you also happen to have several other nurses there from america. would it not be the most natural thing in the world for you to "automatically" speak your native tongue with your fellow us nurses? and on breaks? would you really speak german or french with your us buddies? must we always assume someone is talking about us when speaking another language? why are we so paranoid?
    in europe it is so common to hear other languages spoken at all times in the working environment and no one takes offense...
    they would never attempt to control your choice of conversational language in germany if you happened to be from france, the us or wherever. when dicussing patient issues in the presence of a patient, yes.. otherwise no. can't help but think it's rude and arrogant of us to expect others to always speak our language at all times ! we have no right controlling anyone's choice of speaking their native tongue.. i feel it's wrong to do so. (again, i'm referring to personal conversations... which do happen and should be allowed to happen even at work).

    put the shoe on the other foot and just try to imagine yourself in a foreign country surrounded by a foreign language you had learned just to work there. then finding yourself amongst "buddies" from the good ol' us ! i can't believe you'd never be speaking english with them at work...it would be the natural thing to do. sure.. be concientious when discussing nursing issues with coworkers and make an effort to not appear to be alienating or "rude"... but don't tell me what language i'm allowed to speak or when... hey.. this is america and part of its greatness is freedom of choice and freedom of speech.. in whatever language!

    just food for thought...i'm ready for the darts...

    :chuckle
    i too whole heartily agree !!! i've been saying that for ages now on similar threads in the not too distant past.

    we americans are arrogant when it come to how we perceive or think "other people" or "foreigners" should behave, speak, or think. it's funny how this land is for the democratic & free...the forefathers didn't like being mistreated...you know...taxation without representation. every 4th of july we all fill with pride being able to, you know, have free speech & the whole nine yards. now we have foreign nurses working here (which by the way, helps us out tremendously i might add) & all we can say in appreciation is..."if they're going to live/work here, then they should....". now that's not very american of us now is it...it's rather hypocritical.

    none of us would like that kind of treatment if we decide to go elsewhere to live/work, for whatever the reason maybe. yes, during official working hours & while on the duty floor, english should be used to converse about the patients & their care because it's the official language here at this point in time...but that...ladies & gents may change in the not too near future...like it or not. why is it such a crime if this country has to take-up a second language (any language - you take a pick). life is about change isn't it...we're born, we grow-up & reproduce, we grow old, then die...well all i've got to say is that i welcome some diversity & change with open arms.

    first of all, you (not directed at any one person ) have to be sure that the social conversations are just that, social. then simply ask whom ever is talking in a foreign language to just translate what is being said & tell them that you're feeling a bit left-out. honestly, i think people don't speak in their native tongue just to set-out to talk about their co-workers (unless you've given them reasons to talk about, then that's another issue...isn't it)...they more than likely do it because it's easy & comfortable. it's like having a piece of home away from home there with you. i think if the matter was brought-up in a civilized manner, your foreign co-workers would definitely understand. mario's right when he speak about us not using proper grammar at work. english is one of the most difficult languages to learn...heck, it's hard enough as a first language, let alone a second language; especially when it comes to the slang that many of us use on a daily basis...at work or otherwise. american slang is everywhere, on television, in the movies, on the radio, our kids are always coming up with new stuff all the time. it's hard for me to keep up...well i guess that's because i'm over 30 & past it...at least according to my daughter... lol. so why don't we just give our fellow co-workers a bit of a break...& just let them know that you're feeling a little left-out.

    mario luv - i also totally agree with you too - babe :kiss . hey did you like my venacular ...heeheehee .
  11. by   CaliNurse
    I think we have all summed it up real simple - NATIVE LANGUAGE.

    What is the native language of the area you are living in?

    Could you imagine if you were in Norway and everyone spoke Norwegean (sp?) around you? You would feel like you were in a strange place. Depending on why you are in the hospital it may make you feel insecure, disoriented, disrespected, inable to communicate your basic needs, etc.

    Now lets say you are right here in the good old USA and everyone is still speaking norwegean. How you would feel? If you had any concerns about the facility or the care providers you would really feel like you don't know what they are up to.

    THIS IS BASICALLY DISRESPECTFUL and in my facility it is considered Verbal Abuse!

    It still happens. We try to remind each other.

    This practice makes us look unprofessional.

    This has been one of my pet peeves since I entered this field. We need more sensativity training. What would it feel like if we were that patient? You get a basic sense of trust, and you formulate your opinions of people by factoring in how someone responds to you verbally when it is in a language that you understand. Imagine how it would feel if you could not do that because the nurse or caregiver didn't value your dignity as a patient enough to speak the native language for the part of the world you are in?

    Foriegn languages should only be used when you are on a break room and out of the public area of the hospital or when you are translatting.

    I am sure we will see this topic again this year. Its a cycle.

    Cali
  12. by   mario_ragucci
    originally posted by skm-nursiepooh

    mario luv - i also totally agree with you too - babe :kiss . hey did you like my venacular ...heeheehee .
    thank you nursiepooh (blush and grin) but the world must remember that usa is a unique cultural force that is more than veterans and time. we are a huge country, with boo-coo bounaries and we are coming off of a high horse because of our rich natural resources. being american, and america means being proud to be where were from, and our thing is we speak our own way, and thats all the culture we have thats honest and easy to share. ohter countries may not think its a big deal, but to americans, in the usa, it is not liked, and i understand why.

    me - i wouldn't burn all over any esl co-worker by talking out of their vocabulary with my 70's and 80's nyc mouth, but i hear other walk all over esl and have no idea they are not being fair/respectful of esl people. :kiss
  13. by   semstr
    Well here a reaction from someone, who lived through all this herself!
    As you all know, I was born and raised in the Netherlands, where I went to school and had to (mind you HAD to) learn 3 languages: (Dutch doesn't count here, it is my mothertongue, but we had that too of course), English, French and German.
    For those going to Gymnasia (like I did) Latin and Greek too.
    So even though I learned these languages for 8 years, I didn't understand a word of Austrian-German as I arrived in Vienna. Not one word!! This is Austrian-German and this dialect is terrible hard to understand and to learn. People from Germany hardly understand us.
    Second example, my English is pretty good I think, but first time I had to go to an official dinner with my husband, there were quite a few US-citizens from the south at our table..................... the evening was a disaster for me! I didn't understand them! Husband had to translate for me, till one of the guests asked him, why I (you know over my head) couldn't speak English? My husband answered that I could, but I never met people from Louisana before and I just didn't understand them.
    They were shocked! Really shocked! Then I tried to explain it to them myself and they were even more shocked. They never heared that before! They really tried afterwards to talk "written-English" but they had a hard time.
    So, all I wanted to say here, even when you learned a language at school, and had good marks, in real life it can be so different.
    And yes, every time I saw one of my Dutch collegues we talked Dutch. Mind you, nursing-manager didn't put us five on the same ward.
    Sorry, long story, take care, Renee

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