Response to comment about Bilingual START

June 28th, 2006

UPDATE: 3/6/08- University Business magazine mentions START Bilingue in an article about orientation trends nationwide. -bv

A comment was posted concerning the Bilingual START program that OSU offers.

“The Bilingual START really is nonesense because If a stdent went through 18 years including High School successfully without their parents ability to speak English then what does it matter at this point in their children’s lives. Its sounds like you also need a German translator for my Gandmother when she comes over to visit too! Oh thats right the school is trying to be overly politically correct.”

In an effort to educate people about what the program is about:

1)Sending a child to college can be a very stressful time for parents and family members of the student so all of our START sessions and even our Open House programs include sessions for parents and family members to learn more about the process, what questions they should be asking, what they should be discussing with their student, etc. Much of the trepidation revolves around finances which most families need to pay attention to. For those parents with a language barrier, i.e. not speaking/having a strong understanding of English, this makes a stressful time even more stressful often to the point of it becoming a barrier to the student attending college. START Bilngue is a tool to help those parents and family who may fall into this category. Why Spanish? There is an obvious need. Demographics show that Hispanics are the largest growing population in Oregon and demographic trends show this to continue in the future.

2)Incoming students have so much to deal with and attend to during advising and registration. Imagine being the person in your family that your parents relied on to translate what you are doing, intend to do, and what everyone else is saying (much of which is vitally important) while trying to actually understand it for yourself. START Bilingue allows the student to just be a student going through the process while allowing others to help communicate to the parents.

3)START Bilingue is not restricted to just one population of people. Anyone can access this advising/registration program. This particular one merely offers sessions in both English and Spanish. Politically correct? No. Culturally sensitive? Yes.


39 responses to “Response to comment about Bilingual START”

  1. James Miller says:

    Well Said!

  2. Matt l says:

    Doesn’t really matter to me either way, but would we want to endorse a person’s actions that may be detrimental to their long-term success? Believe it or not, knowing the native language in a country is the biggest barrier to success, and becoming an integrated member of the community. I won’t get off in “fairness” issues like some do – it’s better for the immigrant to the US to learn English. Most industrialized nations outside the US understand that English is a heck of a language to learn.

  3. Blake says:


    While it would make assimilation to the U.S. easier, we are not focusing on the parents’ understanding of English. This activity is based upon our attempt to make the scary proposition of sending one’s son or daughter off to college a bit easier to take and understand. Mostly, we are trying to allow the students (who all speak and understand English) the chance to just do the things that other entering college students do. It is difficult to do that AND act as translator for one’s family members who may not understand English.

    In the long run, it is best for us all if more students attend college and gain an education. We are trying to improve the transition.


  4. Alla says:

    Well I think what you are doing is truly great.

    You are not worrying about politics, but trying to make education more accessible for those who might find it hard. Removing barriers like those of communication is imperative and it’s fantastic to see you making real strides to do so.

    Keep up the good work.


  5. Dea Dale says:

    While I am all for people learning English, the fact is that in US, English will become a minority language in twenty years. By then then Spanish will be the main language. So it might not be such a bad idea to work towards a two language education system already. In fact the Internet being for a big part English dominated has a big potential for people speaking a second language, both for training and education. In our next marketing training in August (30 day challenge) I will suggest the Spanish speakers prepare their material in Spanish to pave the way for more internet marketing skills in Spanish speakers.

  6. Yeah, some good points made, however there are two valid sides to this arguement so I’m not sure I completely agree.

  7. Paul says:

    I completely agree. Thanks for expanding on this, Blake.

  8. Roma says:

    We implemented the same type of program here in Rome, Italy at La Sapienza University, and we’re getting good results in terms of acquiring new students and help the parents that have language barriers.

  9. Jorge says:

    I grew up in a spanish-speaking neighborhood in Pasadena, CA. Most of my friends spoke spanish, and neither my mother or father speak fluent english, even after 15 years in the US. I was able to make it through school without this being a problem, and to this day I am a successful IT professional and have no issues stemming from the fact that my parents are not completely bi-lingual.

  10. Sten says:

    I also think that the English language is very important especially in the economy. It should be understandable that the integration of immigrants into society is only possible with the ability to speak and understand the language which is common in this country!

  11. Claire says:

    The Bilingual START program that OSU offers is a great idea. There is so much information to absorb during induction that a program like this can only be a good idea as it will allow students to interact with other students at a vital time in their education.

  12. As a counselor for blended families I understand how difficult it is for there to be peace in the homes of families who are constantly under stress. What you’re doing will bring that much needed peace and feeling of security to these non-english speaking families. Besides that, it will allow their children to attend college and pursue their education, which is a huge blessing.

  13. Frank says:

    I also believe, that the bilingual education with english & spanish is definitly a good way to make it easier for incoming students and giving them better perspectives in the long run.

  14. Tim says:

    My opionion – Programs like START Bilingue are necessary. That said, equal effort should be taken to help parents learn english.

    If I lived in Germany, Mexico, or Korea, you can bet that I’d spend an enormous amount of time becoming as fluent as possible.

    Our responsibility is to welcome them to the US (providing they’re legal)…their responsibility is to learn the language.

  15. Matt says:

    @Tim – I agree completely!

    In response to the comment that inspired this post:

    The comment made isn’t comparing apples to apples because high school doesn’t typically cost $60,000+ to attend.

    The START Bilingue program will save everyone excess confusion and worry by ensuring that all parties understand the costs and requirements!

  16. Jackson says:

    I wonder how many schools in Mexico, or abroad anywhere for that matter, have implemented similar programs for english speaking students?

  17. PID Tuning says:

    I belong to india and we have lots of villages in outskirts where people dont know other than their local lanugaure but there are lots of example of their children who are successfull in every field.

  18. Eric Stoller says:

    @ Jackson – I’m guessing that similar programs for English speaking students exist in Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

  19. Well said. Keep up the good work.

  20. Simon says:

    Good stuff, I very much agree.

  21. Great post thanks for sharing.

  22. Never seen a problem with translating stufffor my parents during college years as a bilingual student. You have to realize that unless a student just came to US and is enrolling itno college right away, chances are they’ve been translating stuff for their parents for years. From bills to magazines, movies etc.

    Guess I just don’t see it as being that much of a problem for bilingual students to handle unless like I said above they’ve just came to US, have some problems with understanding english themselves and have little to no experience acting as an interpreter for their parents.

  23. Brandee says:

    hey, I can’t find your contact information but your web design layout looked rearranged on firefox and internet explorer. Anyways, i just suscribd to your rss.

  24. paolo says:

    I’m an italian teacher,i think your post is interesting
    my school is in brindisi (puglia country)

  25. Tom Aikins says:

    I live in a foreign country and don’t speak the language yet and it is, at times, a real hindrance in doing business.

  26. Stacking Me! says:

    Well I think what you are doing is truly great.

    You are not worrying about politics, but trying to make education more accessible for those who might find it hard. Removing barriers like those of communication is imperative and it’s fantastic to see you making real strides to do so.

    Keep up the good work.

  27. Interesting post. I am of same opinion with what the poster wrote.

  28. Lisa says:

    Being culturally responsible is important for a university because in today’s world money no longer comes from one society. In fact, the richest man in the world is now from Mexico. Think of that for a second.

  29. It is so important to be bilingual which break down communication barriers and make all forms of education much easier. Keep up the great work!

  30. Mike Tidball says:

    The benefits of being bilingual is immense. I used to live in the Netherlands and most young people could speak 4 languages.

  31. Simon Bond says:

    Personally I think to much money is wasted on projects like this. Everyone that lives in any country should expect to be taught if attending any University in the predominant language.

  32. Matt says:

    @ Simon: Thanks for sharing your opinions. At OSU, we disagree. Transitioning to college can be a daunting process and START Bilingue is designed to assist parents who may have limited English speaking skills in the process of helping their son/daughter transition into higher education. I’m sure if you read the post in its entirety, you’ll find many reasons why the program is so important. Additionally, you won’t see any mention of specific costs of the program so before you claim that too much money is wasted on projects like this, you might want to know how much money is actually spent. (BTW, START Bilingue is a part of all START programs and it just so happens to have components offered in Spanish. The cost is minimal). Thanks again for your comment.


  33. Coming to a college can be very stressful! Especially if you speak a different language. I can only imagine how hard that would be. Im glad you commented back on that closed minded comment.

  34. Matt says:

    Aggreed @Abbotsford!

  35. Maxolash says:

    This blog has so much Great information in it that i could spend all week reading it.Nice blog. Mind if I link to it?

  36. Jack says:

    I agree with what you said. Being bilingual is very useful. It so much easier to travel also from place to place and communicate with foreign students more easily.

  37. Let’s not forget that not all students are from US and that some people have hard time to learn foreign language. I support this kind of projects, because English is not my native language and I know how hard can be sometimes to fully understand everything that been said.

  38. We are dealing with this same issue with our kids. We only have 3-5 bilingual schools in the area. We are still making a decision on what direction to go in.

    Thanks for sharing.

  39. Friv says:

    go To Know !

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