Doctoral Student Pilar Abreu Work Accepted for Presentation

Doctoral Student Pilar Abreu Work Accepted for Presentation

Pilar Abreu dissertation titled "One Size does not Fit All: Bilingual Training and Effectiveness in Healthcare Translation" has been accepted for presentation at "Cross-cultural conuseling and education conference for research, action, and change".


Prior literature is unclear about how best to train bilingual professionals to effectively translate healthcare-related materials to serve Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients.  This research proposal fills this gap of knowledge by using foreign language acquisition theories to propose that various factors (e.g., age acquiring second language, language used at home, single versus bilingual training) impact translation effectiveness. 


The health insurance companies are faced with several problems to meeting the demands of the Affordable Care Act when dealing with the LEP community; a major one is the language barrier (Pabon & Wisotzkey, 2013). Prior studies have thus far reported on interpretations and their relevant challenges for bilingual healthcare staff in hospitals, clinics, and physician’s offices (Flores et al., 2012; Karliner et al., 2012; Lion et al., 2013).  This body of prior knowledge reveals a gap in the literature that research has yet to begin investigating considering the bulk of translation and interpretation services that takes place in healthcare insurance companies. Within the context of serving U.S. Hispanics LEP patients, bilingual translation and interpretation professionals in healthcare insurance companies face three types of challenges:

one, translate the benefits and claims information written in English and inform LEP patients in Spanish verbally over the phone;

second, interpret LEP patients’ phone calls in Spanish and translate the content of the discussions to written English; and 

third, to simultaneously translate and interpret in a problem solving mode when answering calls from Spanish speaking recipients.

Depending on the bilingual translator, he or she may or may not be able to interpret precisely the medical terminologies and their extended meanings to correctly inform the LEP patients. Based on various foreign language acquisition theories, we propose the lack of precision in translation or interpretation is a function of the interpreters’ 1) first language, 2) age when acquire second language, 3) dominant language used at home, and 4) training in bilingual versus single language (Benmamoun, Montrul, & Polinski, 2013;  Gathercole, 2014). This presentation will describe the propositions derived from prior literature, and will discuss with the audience their experiences, and challenges managers face.


E. Teaching, Training, and Supervision: Session topic emphasizes pedagogy and provides strategies for teaching and training individuals across a variety of settings, about multicultural competency in counseling or education.

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