Sunday, October 23, 2016

3 Essential Tips for Working with Non-Native Speakers (guest post)

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This week, I had the opportunity to share some of my experiences with refugees and international students in a guest post at the Center for Adolescent Studies blog hosted by Dr. Sam Himelstein.

In "3 Essential Tips for Working with Limited English Proficiency Youth," I explain common sources of confusion and miscommunication when talking with non-native speakers of English, and suggest a mindfulness practice that can help during frustrating encounters.  (The tips are equally valid if you work with adults rather than adolescents, or if you work with non-native speakers of a language other than English.)

Here's the intro:
During a meeting at a refugee assistance organization, a psychologist described a problem she was having with one of her clients. 
 “I think he must be lying about how he got to the U.S.” she said.  “I mean, given the rest of his story, how could he possibly have been in Iceland?”
 The young man had asked for documentation that he was suffering from PTSD as a result of imprisonment and torture in his home country.  But if he was lying about how he got to the United States, it was likely he was also lying about what happened to him and his reasons for seeking asylum. 
At the meeting, the psychologists and social workers discussed how to tell when a client was telling the truth, and whether to confront him with the inconsistencies in his story. 
As the only English teacher in the group, I had a completely different question. 
“Are you sure he wasn’t mispronouncing ‘island’?” 

You can read the full post at:


related posts:

The Importance of 'Deep Listening' to Young People (guest post)

A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Working with High-Risk Adolescents (recommended book)

Personal Triggers: Recognizing the Causes of Problematic Behavior