Educating parents in the spanish-speaking community: A look at translated educational materials

Sonia Colina, Julie Sykes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Federal legislation (White House Executive Order 13166, 2000) mandates that language services be provided to limited English proficient populations by health care providers receiving federal funding. In order to do this, some basic resources have been developed to administer medical services. Nevertheless, the translation aspects of these guidelines often lack many components that would be necessary to assure the functional adequacy of the translated text (e.g., cultural, pragmatic, and textual appropriateness). Furthermore, outside the medical field, guidelines and legislation are often nonexistent. In the absence of specific requirements for translation and/or translator qualifications, research suggests that translators, in particular novice, unexperienced translators, tend to adopt a literal, linguistic, micro-approach to the translation task, failing to consider global or pragmatic factors (Colina, 1997, 1999; Jääskeläinen, 1989, 1990, 1993; Königs, 1987; Krings, 1987; Kussmaul, 1995; Lörscher, 1991, 1992a, 1992b, 1997; Tirkkonen-Condit and Jääskeläinen, 1991). Given the scarcity of educational programs in translation and the frequent use of untrained bilinguals to produce translated materials in Arizona, we hypothesized that documents translated in educational settings would not be functionally adequate. Using a sample corpus of educational materials for the Spanish-speaking population, we show that this is indeed the case. We demonstrate that a structural, literal approach is inadequate for educational purposes and often negatively affects educational outcomes. The effectiveness of the translated materials with regard to global considerations and purpose is vital, especially in regard to parental involvement as a key factor in a student's success. More adequate guidelines need to be developed regarding requirements for translations and translator training. Additional implications for education and policy creation for language-minority populations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-318
Number of pages20
JournalBilingual Research Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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