What About Us?

The Spanish-speaking community at UPA lacks resources

Since I can remember, my mother always read my school announcements in Spanish. I always found it ironic that she made me practice my reading and comprehension in Spanish but she still chose to read the original English versions of the announcements because it communicated information more accurately.

“All [Spanish flyers and ads] I read are half-translated,” my mother said, explaining her rationale for choosing the original English versions of the ads. “[It’s] as if they didn’t care much about the translation’s accuracy.”

UPA has the same problem. There are not enough resources in Spanish for the Spanish-speaking community such as ads, flyers, posters, etc. that are translated accurately into Spanish. The Spanish-speaking community cannot be well-informed if the information the school tries to communicate is not comprehendible.

Almost all UPA announcements can be found on Schoology or ParentSquare—a platform parents mainly use to communicate with their children’ teachers. Most announcements are in English although there is a Spanish-speaking community, and the ads that are translated into Spanish are not accurately translated. 

Accurate translations are unfortunately the exception to the rule. The Parent Guidance series posters are well-translated into Spanish, specifically one I saw in the center of the academic counseling offices. “Parent Guidance Series” is a program developed by therapists where they give presentations during the school year. The series is virtual, interactive and designed to help parents support their children.

It is a necessary and valuable program that I believe benefits parents that helps build better relationships with their children. Currently, the poster is no longer located in the counseling office.

Contrary to accurate translations in the “Parent Guidance Series” poster, I saw quite a few errors on a ParentSquare flyer. Some parts of the flyer were not translated into Spanish, so some words remained in English. The grammar is not consistent: some words appear to be commands instead of infinitives. The word choice is questionable and not everything makes sense. 

It makes me think that the translation was copied and pasted into a translation service like “Google Translate” which is known to be unreliable. Here’s a thought: wouldn’t it be helpful asking Spanish teachers for help to review the flyer before publishing, distributing, and assisting in the translation process? These errors in grammar and translation confuse Spanish-speaking parents who do not speak and read English fluently. 

In addition, it makes me feel that the people in charge of distributing these flyers do not put much effort into giving correct information and announcements with the best translation possible. It’s frustrating because how can parents stay informed if the information they receive is not translated accurately? I acknowledge that maybe the person in charge of creating these flyers does not speak, read or write Spanish. I understand that it is not possible to translate from one language into another that someone cannot speak.

Furthermore, some parents do not know how to use Schoology well enough to navigate it. There are not many tutorials, instructions, or flyers—like ParentSquare—that provide guidance in Spanish. It is really hard to know who to ask for help about these platforms or resources if the people in charge do not speak Spanish. Many questions arise such as: “Who is in charge? Who can direct me to the right person who can help me? How can I communicate my questions precisely?” 

There is also an option in ParentSquare to change the language used on the site, but it is also a bit flawed and does not provide effective information to parents who speak the language. Although it is not a person’s fault, an effort can be made to review the software used to translate on the site. I know they are not to blame for the faulty translation.

My mother didn’t know that Schoology is a site we use, so she doesn’t have access to my grades. I taught her how to access it and I helped her with the site. She knows a little more about my academic progress now, but I had to sit down with her to explain the features of Schoology. It was a burden to me; the process stressed me out and I imagine that many other students go through the same problem. I was overwhelmed and did not want to have the extensive responsibility of teaching my mother how to navigate Schoology. It would be better if there was an easily-accessible tutorial in Spanish about how to navigate Schoology. I believe that there should be more resources in Spanish to help in the learning process of utilizing these sites and minimize the stress it causes me and others who help their Spanish-speaking parents consistently.

Many parents turn to receptionist Angelica Frausto because she speaks Spanish and has a record of helping Spanish-speaking parents. The other day, I found her helping a father with Parent Square and Schoology. Frausto taught her how to navigate and how to communicate with her children’s teachers and review their grades. Frausto said the parent received emails inviting them to check Schoology. However, the instructions for accessing Schoology were not translated, so the parent had questions. Frausto explains that parents approach her because they are ashamed of their accent and they know Frausto speaks Spanish.

“When I meet with a Spanish-speaking parent when they need help, I make it a [habit] of introducing myself and making myself a resource to them,” Frausto said. 

Although Frausto likes to help parents with their needs, she feels the weight and burden of being the only one available to help others. It should not be her responsibility to be the only person available to help them. 

Administration should create a list of parents who would  prefer to receive their announcements and other important information in Spanish. That way, they can take into account the number of people who have that preference and later send them that information in Spanish. 

Also, if it is easier, they can create a group on Schoology for parents who want their information in Spanish. Spanish teachers can also help translate the necessary information before sending it to parents, though they should not be required to. 

If Spanish teachers are not available, I am willing to help translate anything myself. I would like to offer myself to serve the Spanish-speaking community, and like Frausto, make myself a resource to them. I want the Spanish-speaking community to be included in our school community. They are part of the community and it is time to keep them up to date.