August Professional Development Forum

Posted On Aug 17, 2021 |

Cultural competency is a complex, over-arching term. It includes so many facets that are determined and prioritized based on the approach, industry and individual approaching the topic. Knowing that, it is in the best interest to tackle this topic in a new way; breaking it down into more selective and specialized areas. Sometimes it is not best to take a big bite out of something, but rather to pull it apart piece by piece so as to not make a mess or literally bite off more that you can chew.

August’s Professional Development Forum (PDF) had that goal in mind. To educate on something relevant that can be put into action daily in the duties of community health workers (CHWs). In that mindset, language access is where we landed. When you next encounter such a client try out these tips:

Top Tips for Language Access:

1. Learn the best practices for interpreter use, both live and over the phone

  • Body positioning: face both the interpreter and client face on
  • First Person: Speak directly to the client, the interpreter is a tool, not the client
  • Break it up: Be sure to speak in chunks, give the interpreter time to process and deliver words accurately
  • Say it all: Everything said in the room in front of the client is expected to be interpreted

2.Familiarize yourself with your population of service. You will not encounter every language or factor that goes into language access. Hone in on your specific group of client’s needs

3. Immigration Classifications: Know the differences and the benefits and programs afforded to each classification (immigrant, refugee, permanent resident, etc.)

4. Speak to your leadership. Know the laws and rules around language access for your workplace

I challenge you to find an experienced CHW that has not encountered the need for language access with a client. Like a needle in a haystack, chances are you will be hard pressed to find one. Take these tips to start, but be aware that language access can branch off into many other areas; Culture, country and even region of origin play a part, religion, linguistics, personal preference, community involvement and social standing, etc. You can’t address one without others chiming in. Do not be discouraged or overwhelmed, with the proper knowledge and training one can easily begin to take steps to break down this beast that we call cultural competency.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Sign up here to view the free training on-demand

Want to request a training for your staff? Email us at [email protected] or complete a training request form.


Umemba Health, LLC equips front-line health workers though continuing education and professional development training. Our interactive and engaging virtual learning environment allow learners to quickly achieve results that are easily replicated in the real world. We believe investing in front-line health workers is a win-win for everyone producing positive results for workers, employers, and communities. Find out more about Umemba Health, LLC by visiting us at

Categories: Professional Development Forums