Letters of recommendation from non-English speakers.

  1. I have a new job/resume question. I am graduating soon from an accredited school of nursing with my BSN in Puerto Rico. I have taken and passed my NCLEX and will be applying for jobs in the states. My question is about letters of recommendation. Though my instructors speak English, their primary language is Spanish and that will be apparent in any letter that they may write me. I am afraid that a hiring manager may not recognize this and just think that perhaps they are uneducated by the way the letters are written. Especially the clinical instructors. So here is my question:

    Should I,
    1. Ask my professors to write the letter in English and hope for the best.
    2. Ask my professors to write the letter in Spanish and hope for the best.
    3. Have the professor write the letter in Spanish and either myself, or someone else translate them into English and include both copies.

    Any thoughts or other ideas would be appreciated.
    Last edit by Cahoon BSN RN on May 22, '12 : Reason: More info
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    About Cahoon BSN RN

    Joined: May '10; Posts: 72; Likes: 20
    from US
    Specialty: 4 year(s) of experience in Emergency


  3. by   Patti_RN
    The first thing you should NOT do is translate the letters yourself! Worst case is the hiring manager (or someone else) contacts your reference and the next communication does not match the tone or language quality as the original. It might appear that you wrote the original (not just translated) or that you 'creatively' translated, or at a minimum that translating was inappropriate. You might ask the instructors to use Google translate to convert their own letter into English, then have another fluent English speaker go over the translation (I've found Google Translate to be fairly accurate, but it's not perfect).

    If you're applying for jobs in the US, virtually all managers will be English speaking and may not know a word of Spanish, so a letter in Spanish would be worthless (unless you're applying for jobs in Miami--but even there you might not have a Spanish speaker reading your resume/ letters).

    Most times, applicants say, 'references upon request' and that doesn't happen until after an interview. When you're interviewed for jobs point out that you're bilingual, that you know medical Spanish and English and that you studied in a bilingual school and hospital. This is a huge selling point in most of the country--as rusty as my Spanish is (I lived in Argentina for several years) I've found that speaking a foreign language fairly fluently is a tremendous advantage. (This isn't directed at the OP who obviously knows this, but 'fluent' means you can discuss politics, talk about your child's homework or study problems with her teacher, and explain to the mailman that your package didn't arrive yesterday when it was supposed to... fluent isn't just saying, "I have two brothers and a dog") So, play up your ability to speak another language, and as you do it, tell the interviewer that your references speak English as a second language and their letters will be readable but may not be as eloquent or they may seem a bit oddly worded. They certainly should understand this.

    Good luck with the job search!