Mi casa es su casa

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The American Dream, a key piece of which is home ownership, is flourishing in Latinx communities all across the nation. By every economic measure, the buying power of Spanish-speaking Americans is skyrocketing to the tune of over $2 trillion. That buying power is most especially manifesting itself in home ownership, evidenced by the statistic that over 6 million new homes will be purchased by Latinx consumers within the next few years. As a prominent executive with the National Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) remarked, “With a growing Hispanic population and the highest rate of workforce participation, Hispanics are expected to drive growth in the housing market for decades”. While this is certainly good news for the real estate business, it also presents a series of unique challenges that will need to be met as this industry adapts to a Spanish-speaking customer base.

NAHREP recommends that the first step would be “to address the incredible shortage of Spanish-language speaking, culturally competent real estate agents (7%) and mortgage professionals (4%)”. The lack of bilingual professionals in this key area is a drag on the market. Many Latinx homebuyers express a preference for agents who can explain complicated transactions in a readily understandable format. Cultural sensitivity is also important, introducing upwardly mobile people into neighborhoods that might not reflect their ethnic identities and helping people select areas where they feel at home. As one homebuyer commented, “The (Spanish-speaking) agent was able to tell us if we would feel comfortable around the neighborhood.”

Given the economic projections for the future, improved language skills and cultural sensibilities will play important roles in the world of real estate for some time to come. There will be an increased need for multilingual professionals in both real estate and financial services, and these will surely create ripple effects in the banking and insurance sectors as well. Local government officials and educators will need to respond as demographic shifts alter the social landscape of communities. The need for certified, proficient Spanish speakers has never been greater and will only continue to grow as America becomes more diverse and prosperous.

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Latest Anti-Discrimination Rules: Language Assistance for Non-English Speakers

On May 18, 2016, United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published its final rules implementing new anti-discrimination rules for Non-English Speakers within provisions of the Affordable Care Act § 1557. This is the first of several alerts discussing aspects of the new rule.  The alert focuses on those provisions requiring language assistance for persons with limited English proficiency; future alerts will cover rules related to sex discrimination and persons with disabilities. The new language assistance rules build on but extend beyond HHS’s 2003 Guidance Regarding Limited English Proficient Persons.
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ACTFL Establishes Center for Assessment, Research & Development

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) announces the establishment of the ACTFL Center for Assessment, Research and Development. The ACTFL Board of Directors approved the proposal for the Center during its May 13-15 annual meeting.

The mission of the Center is to support PK-12 schools and institutions of higher education in areas of assessment and articulation; to develop and maintain high-quality language proficiency assessments; to train, certify and maintain highly reliable testers and raters; to conduct research on proficiency and performance outcomes; and to collaborate with other language organizations and government agencies to support and promote research in the areas of high quality language teaching and learning, including examining implications for teacher education.
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The English Dialect: An Adverse Effect On Global Business Success

Languages evolve, that’s nothing new. However, the English language has its own subset of terminology that native English speakers have adopted and put into use practically on every level – when speaking casually and in business settings. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for people abroad to understand the “real” English. A Spanish student in Denmark remarked to another researcher: “Now it’s more difficult for me to understand the real English.”

This “real English” – which dizzyingly encompasses the whole range of dialects from Liverpool in England, to Wellington in New Zealand, via Johannesburg in South Africa, and Memphis in the US – is only the start of the problem of understanding what is trying to be communicated.
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