Interpreter symbolWith no previous knowledge of Spanish before I moved to the Canary Islands recently, I have found myself relying on other people for translations and information.

As someone who is very independent and capable, I’ve found it quite difficult to depend on others. A recent article brought my situation in to perspective, however. Whilst I am only in Spain for a few months, there are people who move to a new country permanently without speaking the language – and sometimes have to rely on children to translate their everyday needs.

The first woman in this article, Dolores Pedro, has learned two additional languages in order to fit in to her community – first Spanish and now English. Her son says translating for his parents is not hard, as he “speak[s] three languages”.

There is some debate about the effect this responsibility has on children, however, especially when it comes to medical issues.

Whippo said the hospital tries to discourage using children as translators because the child may not have the vocabulary in both languages to fully explain the situation in English and another language. Also, she said, medical information can be a heavy burden on a child. (Source: Garden City Telegram)

A doctor in Tennessee, USA, also wrote an opinion piece earlier this year putting himself in a child translators shoes. He concluded that “children often lack the vocabulary and the psychological and emotional maturity required to communicate health information.” (Source: Education Week)

Luckily, I have no need to rely on children to communicate for me. Much like the woman in the article, I’ve made the conscious decision to learn the local language and improve quickly, so I can depend less on others.