language barriers.........

  1. I work in a fair sized hospital
    med/surg unit
    with a huge ethnically diverse population
    italian, jewish, chinese, russian, polish,
    and many many more

    question is, what are some good ways of bridging the language barrier? for example you have to keep a patient NPO, he doesnt speak english and has no family around to relay the instructions
    I know, keep his trays away, NPO sign , try to show him with some kinda pantomime routine that he cant eat etc

    I know the hospital has translators
    but they arent around all that frequently
    and not everyone has supportive families who are around to ease the worry and fear of not being able to communicate

    half the time I feel so stupid for trying to use all these dumb hand gestures for things...
    I'm sure the people are saying in their own languages "who is this idiot? " or something similar

    I guess I'm just frustrated that there isnt more we can do .....
    some of the nurses speak another language
    I wanna learn another one too *between the five thousand other things on my TO DO list*

    we started tryin to get some common phrases from family members and post them with how to pronounce them and what they mean , like pain, and do you need to pee etc , but that often confuses the ppl more (especially the elderly) because they may not understand your pronounciation or they may think you actually know the language and start a detailed conversation.

    any other helpful hints?
    if I went to mime school I would have failed for sure

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    About hapeewendy

    Joined: Dec '01; Posts: 2,866; Likes: 15


  3. by   PCT_Nat
    I think it is so nice of you to be so considering towards people of other cultures, especially since many people look down on those who can not speak English.

    However, why do *you* feel like an idiot using sign laguage?

    If any person decides to go to a foreign country, the least they can do is bring a dictionary and try to learn the indigenous tongue or try to brush up on their english - the most common language of the world.

    I am a foreigner in US and many times people from my country live here for years and don't even bother to learn English.

    I guess to make it easier for you sake, the cheapest way to do it would be make a mini dictionary in every language with words commonly used to treat patients and use it when needed.
    Ask every translator on the hospital to do this project, i'm sure they would help.
    Good luck!
  4. by   ValWai
    Exactly, they will start a conversion asking details if i uttered a few words. I think pictures and cartoons would help. They are universally understood , even by the elderly.
  5. by   Zhakrin
    Try specking english real real s-l-o-w-l-y, that is the universal tranlater.

    Or speak english with a foreign accent, that helps alot. :chuckle

    At least that what I have seen some nurse do and a laugh every time.


  6. by   bagladyrn
    AT&T has a translator line that I have found quite useful. On the other hand, I'm not at all embarassed to act things out. Since I'm an L&D nurse, this can be really comical (picture me acting out "Did your water break?" to the lady who spoke only Chinese This can break the ice quite quickly!
  7. by   hapeewendy
    haha thats what I mean
    I dont feel like an idiot using sing type language for "normal" things but trying to emulate the fact that I need to shove a fleet up someones rear
    can be comical!

    and I know EXACTLY what you mean zhakrin when you mentioned the whole speak with an accent thing...
    so funny, the funniest one was when one of my co workers was asking a chinese elderly man (who secretly knew english, I later found this out from his son, sly devil!) she says "do you have to peeeeeeeeeeee? in highpitched pseudo chinese accent type fashion, when I was looking on I had to giggle because she looked like one of those old dubbed movies, where the language and the faces dont seem to match up

  8. by   Perk
    I have tried to pick up some key in words in different languages, and if there is a translator I will ask them a few words that I may need latter on. I also have an electronic translator in my bag that I bring up on the floor which has translations for english french german and spanish. Some ASL signs are actually great most people can catch on what some of them mean. here is an ASL web page.

    Also I would speak in english slowly as you sign things out, there are many words in german or french that are similar to english ones, it can't hurt to try.
  9. by   P_RN
    There are "sign boards" available for various languages.

    You can also make your own by pasting pictures of food for example with the word for NO.