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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When Miscommunication Turns Deadly: The True Story of Avianca Flight 52

What Happened?

In January 1990, Avianca Flight 52 from Bogota, Colombia, to New York City, was running out of fuel on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Due to weather conditions, the aircraft was kept in a holding pattern prior to landing, even though its fuel situation was critical. The flight crew communicated the situation to the ground crew, but according to reports, they failed to use correct terminology to describe the situation. They did not, for example, use the word “emergency.” Unfortunately, air traffic control underestimated the seriousness of the situation, and the Boeing 707 aircraft crashed into a residential area on Long Island, killing 73 of the 158 people on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the crash occurred partly from the flight crew’s failure to properly communicate a fuel emergency.
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How To Improve Communication With Multilingual Patients In Healthcare Environments

The number of foreign language speakers in the United States has increased an impressive 90% since 1990. There are 38.4 million Spanish speakers reported in the US. The next most common language is Chinese, with 3 million speakers, followed by 1.6 million Tagalog speakers, 1.4 million Vietnamese speakers and 1.3 million French speakers. These populations translate into a new challenge for healthcare professionals and organizations across the nation.
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The Importance of Assessing Employee Language Skills for Specific Positions

How well does one need to be able to speak a language to use that language effectively and appropriately in the workplace? What language tasks does that individual need to accomplish successfully? How accurate must one’s language be to be acceptable in the work context? The simple answer – it depends upon the job.

In a global workplace, employers can no longer depend on the self-reporting of language skills when determining if a potential hire has sufficient communication skills in the language for success in the workplace. Continue reading