Bilingual Guides Aid Job Sites

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Job-site communication can be a problem if workers, foremen and superintendents are not somewhat familiar with construction terms in English and Spanish.

September 01, 2003

According to 2003 U.S. Department of Labor statistics, more than 1.7 million people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity work in construction or extraction occupations.

That means job-site communication can be a problem if workers, foremen and superintendents are not somewhat familiar with construction terms in English and Spanish.

CommuniCard, a laminated, passport-size guide, folds out accordion-style to show illustrations of a number of tasks, tools and techniques specific to five areas of construction and landscaping: drywall/gypsum board, lawn care, painting, trenching/irrigation and cleanup/demolition. The corresponding words, phrases or questions in English and Spanish accompany each illustration.

Creator Sylvia Acevedo’s research revealed that many Hispanic workers cannot read well enough to use dictionaries or translated written instructions from superintendents, so she strove to make the drawings all that workers and employers would need to communicate effectively.

The terms are precise, with the "Spanglish" term sometimes offered in addition to the grammatically correct word. For instance, caulking, masillar and "coquin" accompany the caulking illustration. Call 800/672-7060 or visit www.thecommunicard.com for more information.

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