Coco's Blog

Sunday, 07 August 2011 05:07

Parenting, Translating & Technology

Written by Coco
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This evening a mother, someone that I do not know, called me.  She was hoping that I could help her figure out how to register her 6 year old son for this year’s soccer season.  My husband coaches our daughters’ soccer teams and it turns out that this Spanish speaking mom obtained my phone number from a former player’s mom, who was also Spanish speaking. The woman explained to me that she has been unsure about how to register her child for the soccer season and was hoping that I could help her.  A parent had told her to apply online, but she doesn't have internet access and doesn't know how to use the internet.  I told her that I would be happy to find out for her and would give her a call with the information. Honestly, I found the whole application process confusing, and I speak English! How must this mother feel?

Last year my husband also coached and we had a few parents on our team that only spoke Spanish.   It was my job to call the parents anytime that it was needed; I communicated with the English speaking parents mostly by email. So, today’s phone call from the mother got me thinking about how Spanish speaking parents of young children 1. find out information on after school activities for their children and 2. how they communicate with their children’s coaches/teachers.  In our soccer region the important information is available in Spanish on the website, but this assumes that the Spanish speaking parents can access and use the internet. Also, most coaches that we know communicate via email with parents, in English.

This year, the soccer region has set up team websites to help manage all the information that parents need to access on a regular basis.   I am thinking about the woman’s phone call so much because I wonder how someone like her, someone who is only Spanish speaking, would benefit from this system.  She doesn’t have access to the internet and even if she did she wouldn’t be able to understand the information on the website.  As a bilingual team parent, I would be happy to post the information on the team site in Spanish as well, but I won't since the Spanish speaking parents on our team don't use the internet. I will instead call them with important information.

When organizations tell parents "it's easy to sign up or stay connected, just check us out online or email us" they make assumptions. They assume that everyone can can access the same information and understand the information.  When I was young and needed to translate for my Spanish speaking parents, the internet wasn't around.  Today, children who act as child translators for their families must navigate a digital world too.

I applaud our soccer region for making information available to parents in Spanish.  They understood that there was need for this and they acted on it.  The team websites are not a perfect system, but the region is making an effort to make sure that all of their parents stay informed.   I wonder if the real issue is maybe more along the lines of the digital divide and part of a larger topic?

Last modified on Sunday, 07 August 2011 06:56


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