CSU launches certificate in Spanish for animal health and care
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Colorado State University has launched a new undergraduate certificate, Spanish for Animal Health and Care, to make sure students in veterinary and animal science fields are equipped to communicate after they graduate and begin working with Spanish speakers in a farm or ranch setting.
The new certificate will be offered beginning this fall and will be available in an online-only format as well as in person. It is the brainchild of Shannon Zeller and Maura Velázquez-Castillo, both faculty in the College of Liberal Arts Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. The two worked with the College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Animal Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences to develop the curriculum.
They were introduced to the problem by Dr. Noa Roman-Muniz, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and a CSU Extension dairy specialist.
Students sometimes think they can just use Google Translate during their careers, but you can get into trouble. Our students need to be equipped to deal with multicultural populations.
Dr. Noa Roman-Muniz, associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University
"Communication in animal care is important, because you might be talking about where you give a cow an injection, and that location affects how long the medicine is in the cow's system, and how well that medicine will work," Dr. Roman-Muniz explained in a July 10 university press release. "So it's about human and animal health and safety, as well as food quality."
Sometimes a Spanish speaker who knows a little bit of English—or an English speaker who knows some Spanish—will get designated as the farm's translator, but if the person is not fluent in both languages, misunderstandings can happen. Dr. Roman-Muniz, who is bilingual, says she witnessed a situation in which a farm manager was attempting to explain employee benefits such as health insurance and vacation time, but the translation was inaccurate and workers were getting ready to quit until she stepped in to translate accurately.
Improved communication can also lead to better understanding and appreciation of other cultures and people, Dr. Roman-Muniz explained. Plus, miscommunication can lead to a mass exodus of Spanish-speaking workers.
"I've gotten calls from farms asking if we at CSU can help find people to milk their cows because several workers just walked out due to a misunderstanding," she says. "Students sometimes think they can just use Google Translate during their careers, but you can get into trouble. Our students need to be equipped to deal with multicultural populations."
Specialized medical language needed in animal health care covers everything from disease diagnosis and treatment to feeding, milking, birthing, and preventive medicine.
Harvest Public Media reported: "The need for Spanish has been on the radar of top universities for the last decade, according to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.
"The schools have responded. Purdue has a Spanish podcast for veterinary students, and Kansas State and Texas A&M both offer classes that teach Spanish for animal health care."
At Colorado State, the first two courses of the certificate address field-specific language functions and terminology for routine and complex workplace tasks. The third course is a more in-depth exploration of word formation mechanisms and terminology in equine care as well as dairy and beef livestock establishments. The culminating course applies the students' linguistic skills to cultural aspects of diverse workplaces, including cultural displacement, workplace cohesion, and power relations around gender, age, and ethnicity.
Students will need to have some basic familiarity with Spanish before taking the courses, the equivalent of about two years' worth of study. Those not already enrolled at CSU can take the program and receive a master's badge instead of a certificate upon completion through CSU Online.
Additional plans include extending Spanish instruction in the veterinary college—a series of four, one-credit courses—to meet the needs of future rural and small animal veterinarians. And CSU's third-year veterinary students can now take a 20-hour, third-year practicum in Spanish-language instruction, an intensive language-immersion workshop, for a veterinary externship program.