Cultural Competence Your article about cultural competence (Nov. 2) was of great interest to me. Some years ago, I attended an international conference on language problems in a multilingual society in Haifa, Israel. One session stressed the difficulties of translating language tests, even tests that require only picture identification. For instance, in ... Inbox
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Inbox  |   January 01, 2012
Cultural Competence
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Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Professional Issues & Training / Inbox
Inbox   |   January 01, 2012
Cultural Competence
The ASHA Leader, January 2012, Vol. 17, 2-38. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.17012012.2
The ASHA Leader, January 2012, Vol. 17, 2-38. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.17012012.2
Your article about cultural competence (Nov. 2) was of great interest to me. Some years ago, I attended an international conference on language problems in a multilingual society in Haifa, Israel.
One session stressed the difficulties of translating language tests, even tests that require only picture identification. For instance, in Israel, milk comes in plastic bags (placed in special containers at home), so Israeli children could not identify a container of milk. (A Coke bottle was substituted for that item!)
One speech-language pathologist tested a group of 3- and 4-year-olds who had come to Israel from Russia and Ethiopia. She puzzled over most of the children’s inability to identify any gardening tools. She then realized that the year she performed the tests was “sh’nat shmita,” wherein many Israelis allow the land to lie fallow every seven years. Except for the use of hydroponics, no flowers, plants, or food was planted; the children had not experienced gardening since their arrival.
Another problem is that most tests are normed on a homogeneous population. I practice in a large Orthodox Jewish community. Many of the students have no access to television, movies, or rock music. Tests aimed at middle and high school students do not measure these children’s language expertise. I had to return several social language competency tests I had ordered because the items were irrelevant to the community.
I, sadly, imagine that many students are labeled deficient because of the lack of cultural knowledge on the part of those doing the assessment.
Leah Lando Baltimore, Maryland
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January 2012
Volume 17, Issue 1