For many immigrants in Miami, the language barrier is a significant hurdle to employment, education, health care and legal services. If you don’t speak English fluently, it can also make it difficult to fit in with the community and to take the steps to obtain citizenship. As discussed in a recent blog post, there is an English portion to the naturalization test.
Before you become proficient in English, it can be beneficial to take an interpreter to important meetings or appointments. Having someone available to translate goes beyond speaking the language, however. According to the Houston Chronicle, language difficulties are only part of the issue if you come from a non-English-speaking country. For example, the customs you are used to may be quite different and unfamiliar to American citizens. There may be some social norms, such as handshakes, facial gestures and other types of body language, which can be considered offensive to one culture but are perfectly normal to another. Therefore, it might be difficult during a business transaction, doctor appointment or court procedure for you and others to understand each other if there are cultural barriers.
How can an interpreter help with this problem? An interpreter who fully understands your culture, as well as your language, may be able to help you avoid offending someone or, at the very least, an embarrassing situation. Your interpreter might come from your own country or be a descendant of immigrants from your country. This could also help you feel more comfortable as you begin to socialize with others in your community. A professional interpreter is not required in many instances. However, you might find an interpreter helpful for the first few weeks or months after arriving in the country.