The Linguist

The Linguist 55,3

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 18 of 35 JUNE/JULY 2016 The Linguist 19 FEATURES families," Hartshorn notes. "Then there was an influx of Eastern European families, and we're now seeing people coming from Africa, but through either Italy or Portugal." In contrast, "America has a large and well- established Spanish-speaking population, so they can develop normative data, tools and equipment that are culturally appropriate," Pert explains. And while the UK's generic SLT training still barely touches on bilingualism, the US has run dedicated courses in this field for many years. Dr Barbara Conboy trained on a bilingual Spanish/English speech-language pathology course 25 years ago. Today, she runs a number of SLT courses at the University of Redlands, California – including the Specialty Certificate in Bilingual Speech-Language Pathology: Spanish Language Focus, which trains students who speak Spanish to work in that language with Spanish-speaking clients. But while Conboy's graduates must demonstrate their competency and pass a Spanish language proficiency exam, she notes that nationally, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)'s 'ethical guidelines', "it's really left up to the clinician to decide whether they're qualified enough and whether their level of language is sufficient. Each state has its own licensing procedure too, so it's not uniform; everybody does something different." On both sides of the pond, where the SLT does not speak the client's home language, they should work closely with interpreters. "There's a very strong relationship between our Trust and the interpreting service we use, and we've provided training for their interpreters," says Hartshorn. McCaffrey has also delivered training at her local interpreting service, and Pert is developing resources. "Working with SLTs is very different from working with other services," says Hartshorn. "If an interpreter works with almost anyone else, they need to share a message to get information across. But as an SLT, I need to know what specific words, language and sounds the child is using and I need to know that the interpreter isn't giving additional information to 'help' a child during an assessment. So I will ask, word-for-word, what the child says. Then we'll do a word-for- word translation. And then we'll do an English translation, looking at the meaning. That way, we've looked at whether the structure is right in the home language and also whether it translates." Unique complications An added complication is that some problems are unique to the other language. "Polish, for example, is an intonational language and children will often over- intonate," Hartshorn explains. "We rely on the interpreter to say 'well, they said it, but it wasn't quite right' and help us unpick that." Similarly, with the Pakistani language Mirpuri, Pert notes, "we often get translations like 'she eats' or 'she is eating', but actually there's no pronoun; it's a progressive morpheme that has to have gender agreement. I'd literally want to know what the child said. So, for example, 'I want eat [female]'. And we spend a lot of time working with regular interpreters to build up a rapport." Interpreters are booked for 45 minutes, both before and after the session, in order to properly prepare and analyse. In addition, some SLT services – including Hartshorn's – employ and train their own bilingual assistants. But worryingly, where there's a lack of time, funding or resources, SLTs sometimes muddle through on their own – and in California, where children are required by law to be taught in English, that's recommended. "I don't think it's good practice," Conboy says. "I hear pathologists say they've been instructed by school administrators not to use Spanish, even though they have that ability. It's very distressing to think that some people aren't given linguistically appropriate services." "This is something I've been concerned about for most of my career," says Langdon, who gained her doctorate in bilingualism at Boston University in the 1970s. She has since campaigned for better training and understanding between interpreters and SLTs, writing books including Working with Interpreters and Translators: A guide for speech-language pathologists and audiologists. "Interpreters interpret," she states, "but they aren't speech pathologists. And speech pathologists might be bilingual, but they aren't interpreters. So I wrote the books specifically for people who work in this context. I can tell you from my own experience that interpreting with SLTs is not always done well, and it is very important. But I've been saying this for 40 years!" Langdon is done waiting: she's now Chair of a task force for the California Speech- Language-Hearing Association, writing procedures for SLTs and interpreters. At Redlands, Conboy notes, "All our SLT students, not just the ones that take the bilingual certificate, learn about bilingualism and learn how to work with an interpreter. I think most training programmes in the US are doing those things now." In the UK, while we're a few steps behind, resources include an eLearning package that Pert co-authored, and practice guidelines from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), which Pert is currently updating. "We need to do these things," Langdon concludes. "Unless speech pathologists and interpreters are trained to work together, we are never going to build that two-storey house." ations © SHUTTERSTOCK

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 55,3