The Importance of Communication in Light of the COVID-19 Outbreak

stock-photo-side-close-view-of-female-doctor-specialist-with-face-mask-holding-buccal-cotton-swab-and-test-tubeThe Importance of Communication in Light of the Coronavirus Outbreak

We’re in the midst of a global health emergency. As the Coronavirus continues to spread, healthcare providers can expect to see an increase in the number of patients with limited English proficiency. How can healthcare organizations best be prepared to serve everyone in need of assistance?

Preparing for Public Emergency

Healthcare providers already have plenty of patients with limited English proficiency (LEP). However, with the current public health concerns and the expected volume of people being affected, they’ll need to be prepared for an increase in patients who need varying levels of language services, which means making sure that they have all the appropriate resources in place to handle the task at hand.

Certified multilingual healthcare professionals are imperative when addressing LEP and patient communication, otherwise the quality of care provided suffers. The language skills your organization needs could mean hiring new staff, or it’s quite likely you already have several multilingual speakers on your team. The real question is who is qualified to deal with today’s communication needs.

In the case of a public health emergency, it’s important to have all hands on deck. Multilingual employees can be an indispensable asset when their language proficiency has been confirmed by a valid and reliable language assessment.

Language testing administered by LTI allows you to measure a multilingual person’s proficiency in speaking, writing, reading, and listening in a reliable and legally defensible manner. This is essential in the healthcare environment, and even more so when dealing with the effects of the pandemic we are currently facing. All communication must be accurate and clear between patients and providers to avoid any confusion that could open the door to miscommunication, medical mistakes, malpractice suits, or worse yet, patient suffering.

Every health care professional in need of language services should be able to quickly and with confidence connect to professional, vetted, and verified language support services to address patient communication. Particularly in cases of COVID-19, all patients and their families should have the right to equitable access to healthcare, regardless of the language they speak.

Certified Language Skills: A Pathway to Foreign Language Incentive Pay

stock-photo-company-leader-giving-money-bonus-in-paper-envelope-to-happy-smiling-office-worker-congratulatingCertified Language Skills: A Pathway to Foreign Language Incentive Pay (FLIP)

Ever wonder if your proficiency in a language other than English could increase your income potential? The answer is absolutely, 100%, YES! A recent report by ACTFL, entitled “Making Language Our Business,” unveiled that the demand for foreign language skills is greater than ever before for U.S. employers. Whether it is in the boardroom, in the field, with customers and partners, or on social media, companies today are increasingly more likely to conduct business in a language other than English.

However, one of every three U.S. employers reports a foreign language skills gap when asked if their employees are able to meet their multilingual needs. In addition, nearly 25% of employers acknowledge losing or being unable to pursue a business opportunity due to shortcomings in language skills. That’s where your multilingual skills can come in handy, and companies are willing to pay an extra premium to put your language proficiency to work for their benefit.

Employer compensation salary incentives that recognize and compensate multilingual workers for their language skills are called Foreign Language Incentive Pay (FLIP) programs. FLIP can be disbursed as a one-time bonus or paid in the form of a higher salary. To get an idea of how organizations may compensate their employees, you can check out the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) FLIP program and the foreign language proficiency bonus established for U.S. military members.

According to the above ACTFL study, the industries that rely the most on a multilingual workforce are Hospitality & Travel, Healthcare & Social Assistance, Educational Services, Trade, Construction, Professional & Technical Services, and Manufacturing. The following is a list of the top languages needed and the percentage of U.S. employers who rely on them most:

-Spanish (85%)
-Chinese (34%)
-French (22%)
-Japanese (17%)

Language proficiency is a valuable asset that employees can bring to the workplace, and employers are willing to pay for it. With Language Testing International (LTI), you can certify your language skills, helping you boost your marketability and thrive in an increasingly global economy. Assessments for speaking, writing, listening, and/or reading, each about a half-hour in length, can be taken from the convenience of a computer or laptop at home or at work. Once you take your language test and receive your certification, which includes your level of language proficiency, you can share your credentials with your employer, ask to participate in their FLIP program, and add it to your professional profile or resume.

Stand out from the crowd, get language certified!

Why is Language Certification so Important in Healthcare?

stock-photo-old-black-woman-explaining-health-issue-to-young-male-hispanic-doctor-in-officeAre you a Multilingual Healthcare Worker? Why is Language Certification so Important?

Are you a multilingual healthcare professional who commands English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese or perhaps another language? If so, you are in high demand.

Case in point, the Latino population reached a staggering 59.9 million in 2018 (Flores, Lopez, & Krogstad, 2019), but according to the Pew Research Center, only 39% of this population segment reported speaking English “very well” (Fernandez et al., 2011). As a healthcare professional who happens to be Latino it is likely that you have been called into a patient care situation that requires you to facilitate communication between medical staff and a Latino patient. You have mediated everything from explaining procedures and risks to a patient and his or her family members to the complexities of navigating the U.S. healthcare system—all in a way that is culturally and linguistically appropriate. Why? Because you are proficient in the language, culture, and contextual barriers that need to be addressed to be able to serve as an advocate for patients with limited English proficiency. If this is the case, shouldn’t you be recognized and appropriately compensated for your language competency? Do you realize you stand out from the crowd? The answer is “yes”.

A 2017 study by New American Economy revealed that the demand for bilingual workers had more than doubled in the last five years, and healthcare companies, such as Humana, required bilingual skills for one in every four online job postings. Forty percent of those jobs included registered nurses (New American Economy, 2017). There is also a growing trend among employers paying a salary differential allowance (also known as additional compensation) for positions that require bilingual proficiency.

So, why is language testing important in healthcare?

It enhances your ability to help reduce the disparities experienced by linguistically and culturally diverse patients. As a multilingual healthcare professional, language testing and certification validates your level of proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Put simply, it legitimizes your language skills. You are able to elevate your professional profile and advance your career in a U.S. healthcare industry that critically needs this skillset. Certification makes you more marketable and provides you with the opportunity to explore jobs that pay higher salaries.

With language assessments, you can evaluate your language proficiency and become certified from the convenience of your office, home, laptop, or mobile device. Once you are certified, go ahead and update your resume, notify your employer, and get ready for your next career move whether it’s with your current employer or at that dream job that’s waiting to compensate you for being multilingual!

It’s a win-win all around… for you, your employer, your patients, their families, and the U.S. healthcare system.

References

Fernandez, A., Schillinger, D., Warton, E. M., Adler, N., Moffet, H. H., Schenker, Y., . . . Karter, A. J. (2011). Language barriers, physician-patient language concordance, and glycemic control among insured Latinos with diabetes: The Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE). Journal of General Internal Medicine, 26(2), 170–176. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11606-010-1507-6

Flores, A., Lopez, M. H., & Krogstad, J. M. (2019). U.S. Hispanic population reached new high in 2018, but growth has slowed. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/08/u-s-hispanic-population-reached-new-high-in-2018-but-growth-has-slowed/

New American Economy. (2017). Demand for bilingual workers more than doubled in 5 years, new report shows. Retrieved from https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/press-release/demand-for-bilingual-workers-more-than-doubled-in-5-years-new-report-shows/

Benefits of Pre-employment Language Testing

The Benefits of Pre-Employment Language Testing for Law Firms & Corporate Legal Departments

stock-photo-multiracial-people-having-dispute-about-bad-document-at-group-meeting-african-businessmanIntroduction

Attorneys know that Rule 1.1 of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct “ABA Models Rules,” which has been adopted by most states, requires that attorneys “shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”

So what happens when a potential client who doesn’t speak English requests the services of that attorney? This scenario is becoming increasingly common. The United States is generally becoming a more diverse country, and the number of cities and counties with minority-majority populations is growing. In cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and others one can hear numerous languages spoken in the streets. This also means that many individuals who may need legal assistance may not be able to communicate in English. How does an attorney provide competent representation if the attorney and client do not communicate in the same language?

While most of us can recall a funny “lost in translation” moment, the legal implications of mistranslations is not a laughing matter. Attorneys know that use of language and word choice matters, and can make or break a case for a client. This is also true when the language is not English.

First, it is important to note there is a legal distinction between “interpreting” and “translating.” The United States Supreme Court held in Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd. that “the word interpreter applies only to those who translate orally” while “the words translate, translations, translator are used when the immediate result of the work is a written text.”

There are two ways to address the language issue. The first is to hire attorneys and staff who speak foreign languages. The second is utilize the services of professional interpreting and translating services. The key question that applies to each of these options is how does an attorney confirm that the people who claim to be fluent in the language are actually capable of competent interpreting and translating?

Is your organization taking shortcuts in determining the proficiency level of your multilingual job candidates and professional language service providers?

For many companies, hiring and outsourcing are long and difficult processes. It requires a lot of resources —both in time and money— to find the right person who will not only fit the job’s requirements but will also fit with your existing team. Thus, how can you make your hiring and outsourcing process more effective and efficient, and at the same time not take short-cuts to ensure that the people or professional language services you hire truly have the language skills showcased on their resumes?

Taking shortcuts like using Google Translate will not be enough, and as anyone who speaks multiple languages can tell you, it is prone to mistranslations. ABA Model Rule 1.4 requires that Attorneys communicate relevant information to their clients. Also ABA Model Rule 5.3 imposes certain responsibilities upon law firms and associations for the non-lawyer services that they employ. The New Hampshire Bar Association Ethics Committee issued an advisory opinion regarding this rule stating that “When the attorney cannot communicate directly and fluently with the client in a language that the client can understand… the attorney must make use of the services of a qualified, impartial interpreter. Ideally, the attorney would accomplish this by associating with a bilingual attorney, working with a bilingual employee or staff member who can interpret communications between the attorney and client, or utilizing a commercial or community interpreter service.”

Case law can show us how even the mistranslation of one word can lead to significant loss. Willie Ramirez was rushed to a Florida hospital after falling unconscious. Mr. Ramirez didn’t speak English and wasn’t properly treated due to the mistranslation of the word “intoxicado.” As a result, Mr. Ramirez suffered brain damage, was left quadriplegic, and reached a settlement with the hospital for $71 million dollars.

Here is why using legally defensible assessments is so crucial to your organization.

To reduce the risks of costly “lost in translation” moments that can compromise the rights of your client, seek staff and professional services who are certified with a legally defensible language assessment. Such assessments should be constructed to be reliable, accurate, and fair. The questions should be well written and appropriate, prompts are delivered in a secure environment, and responses scored using best practices and well-respected standards. The assessments measure, as accurately as possible, a participant’s “true” language ability or performance level to accomplish specific tasks.

Standardized pre-employment language certification is one of the most effective ways to simplify yet add the appropriate rigor to the hiring process—provided that it’s done properly. Unfortunately, not all pre-employment language certifications are made equally. Some are excellent tools for helping you choose candidates and professional services, while others fall flat—and could even leave your firm or organization in a precarious legal situation as mentioned above.

Legal challenges may come from individuals or groups who claim the organization itself, the processes followed (e.g., administration, scoring, setting passing scores) or the outcomes of the testing (i.e., whether a person is certified) are not legally valid. Essentially, the legal defensibility has to do with the question, “Are the assessment results, and more generally the testing program, defensible in a court of law?” In the event that a firm or organization faces a language-related lawsuit, it needs to rely on the certifying organization being able to withstand legal challenges.

There are four main areas where language certifications need to prove their value: reliability, validity, fairness, and cut scores. Each of these areas requires consideration when developing, administering, and reporting (conducting research) on assessment results. Language testing is a high-stakes test, which means it is critical to meet these requirements.

Cheating on tests and breaches of security are areas of concern that throw into question the validity of assessment results. If assessment results cannot be trusted to be an accurate reflection of a participant’s “true” ability or performance level, then the validity of results is questionable and the legal defensibility of the assessment program may be in jeopardy. Security is important in ensuring legal defensibility. Defensibility requires vigilance both in terms of process and information use.
Organizations offering legally defensible language certifications assemble and maintain a defensibility evidence portfolio that shows how they have adhered to best practices and documented their processes and procedures.

How do you know if a pre-employment test makes the grade?

Here are some best practices to help guide you based on the EEOC Employment Test and Selection Procedure Fact Sheet.

1) Pre-employment assessments and procedures must be valid, job-related, and appropriate for the employer’s purposes.

Employment testing is perfectly legal, provided that it meets a few requirements. The test must be valid, reliable, and grounded in research by subject matter experts. That doesn’t just mean having professional question writers. Psychometric guidelines need to be followed, along with certain standardized processes inherent to written or online tests.

2) Pre-employment tests cannot in any way discriminate against a group based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or protected disability.

U.S. law very clearly prohibits discrimination against anyone on the basis of these protected classes. That means a pre-employment exam that’s within the law must be designed to offer all potential employees an equal chance to display their knowledge, independent of their background.

3) Pre-employment tests must be consistently updated to ensure that the above factors remain true.

Pre-employment tests should constantly evolve to provide the best measure of assessments. Ongoing test research and development provides a valid and reliable testing instrument.

Language Testing International (LTI) offers pre-employment language tests that determine the proficiency level of a multilingual person. Assessments are available for speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Our tests don’t just simplify the hiring process for your organization—they are also legally defensible. To learn more about LTI and speak to a language testing specialist contact us today!