How translation can bridge the gap between immigrants and their children

How translation can bridge the gap between immigrants and their children

Est. Reading Time: 5min
Category: Uncategorized
Last Updated: July 19, 2021
By: Rana Hamodah

People migrate for a variety of reasons, some want a better future, some are looking for safety, and some have no other option.

There are migrants all around the world with the US topping the list. It houses more immigrants than any other country. Most people come to the US to live the American dream; however, very few are ready to fit into the mix.

Canada is not far behind either. A total of 313,580 immigrants moved to the country in 2019 and the total figure stands at more than seven million.

Read more: 5 Things You Need to Know About Death Certificate Translations

Language barrier

A major problem that migrants face is the language crisis that is very rarely discussed. If you search the web, you will find that Canada houses people from all around the world, including countries where English is not very commonly spoken. These include China, Arab countries, African countries, and some European countries.

People who move to Canada do not always have the time or resources to learn the language. They are in a hurry to find a job and get food on the table. All their time is spent on making money and they very rarely get to master the language.

Living in a country where English is the leading language can be a little difficult. Therefore, immigrants don’t always get good jobs, and many have to perform small jobs that rarely pay well.

Their only hope is to get their children to learn the language, in the end, their children must play several roles including the role of a translator.

Read more: How translation can bridge the gap between immigrants and their children

Immigration from India

Think about Omar Salman, an immigrant from India, who moved to Canada in 1980 and worked at an Indian restaurant. Since he worked with and around Indians, he could not master the English language and hence could not find success either.

He marries an Indian woman and has a son who goes to a Canadian school and speaks incredibly good English. Ten years later, Omar’s son ends up being his translator but there is a gap between the father and the son.

Omar cannot speak very good English and his son does not speak good Hindi. The gap remains there as they grow, and the language barrier causes them to drift apart.

This story is common in Canada and other countries. Children go to educational institutions and public places where they get to interact with locals and get to learn the dominant language and culture. This helps them to quickly learn the new language and cultural nuances of the new country.

Another report found that immigrant children often grow up in poverty and have negative educational experiences. They are forced to simultaneously master a lot of things, which puts unnecessary pressure on them.

This might not sound like a major problem on paper, but the language barrier can ruin relationships and make things difficult for everyone involved.

How translation can bridge the gap between immigrants and their children

Translation Services

This is where language translation services come into play. Both parents and children can use these services to better understand each other and ensure messages are delivered in a neat manner.

We have to think from the perspective of children who are not just translators reading different pages for their parents. They also must interpret Canadian customs and culture to their parents, at times having to correct their parents.

People who do not speak English can get intimidated, especially when they have to visit a public place like a library, police office, or hospital. A single mistake can result in a disaster.

Read more: 4 Reasons Why Error-Free Translations Are Important

Bridging the gap

Despite changing immigration laws and regulations, Canada will continue to welcome immigrants.

The population in the country is already diverse. Immigrants hold all kinds of jobs including white- and blue-collar jobs. The problem, however, is that around 50 percent of all immigrants above the age of 4 have a below-average understanding of the English language.

A paper titled Translation: Bridging the Gap, or Creating a Gap to Bridge? Reflections on the Role of Translation in Bridging and/or Widening the Gap between Different Cultures with Particular Reference to Religion and Politics studied the importance of translation and how poor understanding of a language can lead to issues.

The fact remains that translation can bridge the gap between immigrants and their children. Organizations like NSTEP are going the extra mile to make things easier.

The organization has translated different materials including generic manuals, food recipes, etc, to help immigrants and their children learn how to build better brains. Healthy eating, activity, sleep, etc. build better brains. NSTEP in Calgary is focussed on New Canadians, English Language Learners translating these simple messages of how to build better brains with the help of Calgary Translation Services. Both agencies work hard to support families to bridge the gap between families that have the language barrier to ensure they will stay connected and can communicate without barriers.

Read more: 9 Surprising Stats About Languages

About the author

Rana Hamodah

As a migrant to Canada, Rana understands the challenges newcomers face and how access to information can help ease the transition.

Her two Bachelors of Arts in Linguistics and Literature and Translation paired with her Masters in Education and her candidacy for a Ph.D. in Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy (EDD) at the university of British Columbia make her uniquely qualified in ethnocultural communications. She is a Commissioner for Oath and can administer oaths and take, receive, and attest affidavits, affirmations and declarations. Currently, she is also pursuing her Immigration Consultant Certificate.