Hablo Ingles Solamente :-/

As you may or may not realize, that in addition to automobiles I enjoy studying linguistics and more recently speech-language pathology (essentially linguistics applied to communication disorders).   In a recent multicultural considerations class, we discussed the need for bilingual speech therapists.  If a client speaks a language other than English, the best way to assess him is in his native tongue (in order to subvert a diagnosis of a disorder).  But will clinicians take it upon themselves to learn new languages?

The language of dominance and prestige in the United States is undoubtedly English: the schools, the courtrooms, the media, the road signs… are all written in English.  I believe that tri-generational shift is occurring in the US because of this overwhelming pressure to use English.  The 1st generation immigrant speaks only his native tongue, which he uses with his offspring.  His children find out in school that English must be learned to be accepted by greater American society and culture.  Once this 2nd generation has children, they are so immersed in US culture that there is little motivation to learn their parents’ language.  In fact, there is widespread pressure to abandon it: school is all English, popular songs and books, peers, parents purposefully refraining from L1 use with their kids, etc.  There are active forces keeping native languages buried, but the most important being the 3rd generation’s motivation factor. I believe that popular American culture is more intriguing to youth than their native tongue.   Jay-Z doesn’t sing in Diné.   Madonna, despite her Spanish name, never sings en Español.

"Ya-ta-hey, bitches."

To answer the question I posited earlier: the necessity to learn any language other than English does not exist.  We don’t NEED to learn another language to succeed in this country, so we won’t.  Biologists call this economical: following the path of least resistance.  I think we’re just being lazy.  I mean, I’m being lazy.  I know that my future clients will be much better off if I can assess them in their own language, and it’s a tragedy that I won’t, but I’m a victim of the US circumstances.  I never need to use Spanish daily, not even in this state!   But I will certainly include a translator or cultural mediator during assessment and intervention, in order to provide as best service as I possibly can.

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