Making sense of the interpreter role in a healthcare service-learning program
Showstack, Rachel E.
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Rachel E Showstack, Making Sense of the Interpreter Role in a Healthcare Service-learning Program, Applied Linguistics, , amz058, https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amz058
This study examines the interpreter role among students who serve as interpreters in a community health clinic system in the Midwestern USA as part of a community health-themed service-learning course for advanced Spanish students. Drawing on Positioning Theory (Davies and Harré 1990), I consider the ways in which three second language learners and three heritage speakers who participated in the program describe their roles as interpreters with reference to the Code of Ethics, negotiate their roles with the medical students and doctors also serving at the clinic, and make sense of moments in which they chose to advocate for the patients, or otherwise provide assistance to them, beyond interpreting. Each student encountered different types of challenges that reflected their individual backgrounds and experiences, and these challenges led to reflection, learning, and new perspectives on their roles in providing patient care. The article problematizes the role of bilingual student interpreters in community health programs and offers recommendations for preparing students to provide the highest possible quality of healthcare for speakers of minoritized languages.
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