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Are you one of the many health care professionals who face the dilemma of serving and communicating with individuals who speak Spanish?

Yes? Then let us help you!

As Latino immigrants continue to settle in Tennessee, more and more of them are finding their way to our health care facilities, and few of them speak English. Likewise, few health care professionals speak Spanish. Title VI law requires health care providers to bridge the communication gap with their Spanish speaking population. Health care professionals from many disciplines are struggling with this problem.

The University of Tennessee Extension and Hablemos have teamed-up to offer an effective, research-based and economical solution. It’s called Survival Spanish for Health Care Professionals. If you are frustrated because you cannot communicate with your clientele and you do not want to become bilingual in Spanish, then Survival Spanish is the program for you.

Together, Hablemos and the University of Tennessee Extension are offering the Survival Spanish Workshop to health professionals across the state of Tennessee. This program is designed to develop basic Spanish language and Hispanic cultural skills. Research has documented the workshop’s effectiveness. Through this workshop, a large number of professionals can be taught at once. This approach develops linguistic skills that can be used the day after the workshop. Participants gain language skills without having to become bilingual. With workshop resources, participants can continue to build their Spanish language skills after the workshop.

Background about the Program

Barbara (Bobbi) P. Clarke, PhD, RD, Professor and Health Specialist with University of Tennessee Extension, received a grant from the USDA Fund for Rural America to build the Spanish language capacity of health care providers in Tennessee’s Bedford and Coffee Counties. Along with the Tennessee Latino Health Coalition serving those counties, she used various strategies, including Spanish language classes and sending participants to Mexico for a four-week immersion experience. The results were disappointing. A non-academic teaching paradigm was needed which was effective, adult-learner focused and immediately applicable to the work setting. Then she discovered a program that was effective, economical and that could reach a large number of health care professionals.

Research Findings

Through the grant funding, the Survival Spanish Workshop, developed by Hablemos, was pilot tested with 160 health care providers and 45 UT Extension educators. Ninety-seven percent of the participants had very poor or no Spanish language skills. As a result of the workshop, participants reported significant improvements in their ability to speak Spanish, understand and use health-related terms in Spanish, read Spanish and translate Spanish to English. They also reported significant improvements in understanding the Latino culture and in the use of non-verbal communication skills. Those professionals who worked with large numbers of Hispanic clientele reported the greatest gains in Latino culture and Spanish language abilities. With 5 being excellent, participants rated the workshop design, professional benefits of the workshop and quality of instruction at a 4.8. The majority of participants rated the workshop as “not difficult.”

How is Survival Spanish different from other Spanish classes?

Survival Spanish Workshop

First, it is a one-day, six-hour program. But that’s not the only way it differs from traditional Spanish classes. Instead of conjugating verbs, you will learn words and phrases that are essential to your job. Instead of spending evenings doing homework, you will learn to use quick references that are designed specifically for your work. And instead of memorizing Spanish grammar, you will learn about cultural issues that often – unknowingly – create communication gaps. You will also receive a set of audio CDs that can be used to practice at home or in your car after the program. Best of all, you can start communicating with your Hispanic patients the next day!

How will you benefit from this program?

In Survival Spanish, you will develop the basic language skills needed to help you communicate with your clientele. You will also build an understanding of the Latino culture that will allow you to begin the communication process with your clientele.

In this workshop, you will:

  • Learn to create a communication partnership with your Spanish-speaking clientele.
  • Read key Spanish words and learn key Spanish sounds.
  • Pronounce words and simple phrases in Spanish.
  • Use body language and other communication skills to build trust.
  • Use comprehension techniques to understand what is being said.
  • Understand cultural norms of Latino immigrants.
  • Receive valuable tools to help you continue building your language skills after the workshop.

This program can be offered by health professional organizations and others in partnership with your UT county Extension office.



For information about how to offer a Survival Spanish Workshop in your area, contact your UT county Extension office.

State Contacts

Bobbi Clarke, PhD, RD
The University of Tennessee Extension
Professor, Health Specialist and Co-Director,
UT Center for Community Health Literacy
Phone: 865-974-8197
E-Mail: bclarke@utk.edu

Ed Gumucio, President Survival Spanish Workshop
Toll-Free: 866-323-1255
E-Mail: eduardo@thehispanicsolution.com

Whitney Danhof
University of Tennessee Extension
Bedford County
2105 Midland Road
Shelbyville, TN 37160
Telephone: (931) 684-5971
E-mail: wdanhof1@tennessee.edu

Belinda Riddle
University of Tennessee Extension
Coffee County
1331 McArthur Street
Manchester, TN 37355
Telephone: (931) 723-5141
E-mail: briddle@tennessee.edu