Obtaining the Knowledge & Skills Needed to Practice as a Bilingual Clinician in a Non-Bilingual Graduate Program

Nate Cornish, M.S., CCC-SLP, Director of Clinical Services, Bilingual Therapies, Inc.

Nate Cornish, M.S., CCC-SLP is a bilingual speech-language pathologist, clinical director of Bilingual Therapies, and moderator of the ¡Adelante! blog. Previously, Nate provided bilingual speech-language services to secondary students and served on a city-wide bilingual assessment team in the Washington, DC Public Schools. Nate is the current president of The Hispanic Caucus, a related professional organization of ASHA. Greetings ¡Adelante! readers!  I’m exercising some “moderator liberty” (or perhaps using the “blog bully pulpit”) in submitting this article.  However, I’m very excited about this topic because it describes my own experience as well as that of many of the professionals I work with at Bilingual Therapies. As a bit of background, during my undergraduate years I looked forward to the prospect of attending a bilingual graduate program.  I did my homework, visited campuses, spoke with professors, and then applied to the schools that I thought would be a good fit.  There were a number of wonderful options in front of me after the acceptance letters came in, including a few bilingual programs.  However, at the end of the day I chose to attend the University of Nebraska, a program that does not offer formal curriculum or clinical experience in bilingualism.  Although I think I would have had a different and equally great experience at another school, I have never regretted my choice! There are many reasons for making decisions about our academic careers, and not everyone who wants to work with bilinguals ends up attending a specialized bilingual program or studying with someone who is doing research in bilingualism.  So how does this group of future professionals obtain the knowledge and skills needed to provide competent services to bilingual clients?  In this article I will talk through:
  • The knowledge and skills that ASHA has identified for those who represent themselves as a “Bilingual SLP”
  • Legal regulations of bilingual SLPs
  • Possible benefits of studying in a specialized bilingual program
  • Possible benefits of attending programs that do not specialize in bilingualism
  • Some tips for learning what you need to know from the literature
  • Some tips for getting the clinical experience you need
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