I’m jealous! All around me I hear people speaking in different languages.  They graciously switch to English but I wish I spoke another language fluently.  My Spanish allows me to greet someone, ask if they have pain and what number it is, but that is about it.  I commit to improve my Spanish but really never make progress.

I was talking to a patient navigator recently about the ACP work she had been doing. I asked how many sessions she was doing in English or Spanish.  She told me in most sessions she went back and forth from Spanish to English. Even when the audience spoke Spanish as their first language. She shared that with some complex topics, such as being a surrogate decision-maker, it was helpful for people to hear the message in both languages. That to clarify nuances, it is helpful to have two languages.  Saying the same thing in two languages had advantages in conveying the message. Having two languages made it easier to understand some difficult topics.

It is unlikely that I will ever be more than a monoglot; I am stuck with English.  I am intrigued by the possibility of having a unique perspective. Recently, we had a student give our Coursera Course “Palliative Care: It’s not Just Hospice Anymore” a review in Spanish!

“Excelentes aprendizajes, excelentes reflexiones, que lo invitan a uno a ser mejor clínico. Gracias a los maestros por sus enseñanzas. Sobre todo gracias, porque ahora podremos cuidar mejor de nuestros pacientes terminales.”

I spent a few minutes parsing these words before selecting Google Translate.

“Excellent learning, excellent reflections, which invite one to be a better clinician. Thank the teachers for their teachings. Especially thanks, because now we can take better care of our terminal patients.”

Learn more about Coursera Palliative Care: It’s not Just Hospice Anymore 



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