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Dealing with this as an instructor.


rowdyb
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My paid, professional teaching background-

  • teaching physics for x ray techs to pass their boards
  • teaching radiation safety to us army and others
  • teaching the msf basic rider course
  • teaching rock climbing for a college club (non paid, non professional)
  • teaching pistol shooting for an actual academy
  • teaching competition pistol shooting privately (non professional i guess??)

 

My language background-

  • 1 semester of each in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian at a community college
  • 1 year college Spanish. 1 semester abroad in Madrid Spain
  • 3 years high school French

 

I have had years of paid professional teaching experience in varying fields and I have an interest and small experience in foreign language. This weekend though I was asked if I could teach a class to two individuals who speak absolutely zero English.  Both individuals have no prior firearms experience. A 1 instructor to 2 student ratio, providing all the materials myself.

 

Do you think it is reasonably possible to safely provide an introduction and instruction in the basics to someone(s) you don't have a fluency in a shared language? Through visual demonstration, pantomime and Google translate?

 

My initial reaction is "No". I feel I can give them firearms exposure but not really convey any information. And if I am in control of the access to the guns and ammo I feel confident in dealing with one person at a time with no shared language. But I wonder if I'm not wanting to do it just because it seems really difficult or if it truly shouldn't be attempted.

 

@benos

 

If you have no experience instructing, please feel free to talk about how you'd cope from the perspective of you as the student with an instructor who you didn't share a language.

Edited by rowdyb
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I've had this same sort of situation when trying to interview suspects who don't speak English.  Something always gets lost in the interpretation.  But, since you will be able to demonstrate the mechanics, you could probably get the job done.  But wear body armor.....:-)

 

 

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3 minutes ago, RangerTrace said:

wear body armor...

I have both soft and hard from my contractor days. hahaha.

 

32 minutes ago, PhilTerry said:

o they speak

Funnily enough it is "just Spanish". But I have zero firearms vocabulary in Spanish and haven't had to speak Spanish in any meaningful way in 5 years. Chatting about the weather and food and the ability to speak in the past tense and using gerunds doesn't count for instructing fluency.

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18 minutes ago, perttime said:

had an interpreter

I'd feel like I'd need to pay them in some way.

 

I'm starting to feel like I should counter with something of lower intensity, like just an hour of basic familiarization versus actual instruction in basic marksmanship.

 

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If you decide to go ahead with the training, there is a Spanish version of the IPSC rule book on the Global Village web site which you could use side-by-side with the English original for appropriate vocabulary.

 

http://ipsc.invisionzone.com/topic/16099-nuevas-traducciones-al-español/?tab=comments#comment-154740

Edited by PhilTerry
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48 minutes ago, rowdyb said:

I'd feel like I'd need to pay them in some way.

 

I'm starting to feel like I should counter with something of lower intensity, like just an hour of basic familiarization versus actual instruction in basic marksmanship.

 

Without an interpreter you're going to have a very difficult time, and tempers could fly. 50 years ago I was stuck in a situation like that trying to teach South Vietnamese, with only some of them having rudimentary English skills. It was not overly productive. Or, as the Viets might say "It numba 10!"

Whomever is sponsoring this course should spring for an interpreter.

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39 minutes ago, GOF said:

Whomever is sponsoring this

A guy I train bjj with, his parents expressed a very strong interest to me in learning firearms basics. Easy enough to get through conversational Spanish. They wanted me to commit to a day and time when we first spoke about it they were so motivated and were trying to PayPal me right then. But I deferred so I could think more about it.

 

41 minutes ago, GOF said:

stuck in a situation

I have an email into friends who taught LBG's for a living to see what they think as well.

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Rowdy.  Just my $ 0.02. Your resume & teaching background is impressive and I have no doubt you could pull it off.  The simple fact that you're questioning the situation shows, in my opinion that you have some reservations about the matter. Accepting the fact that you are basically in the service industry, ask yourself, can you provide the service and give your customer what they are paying for and expect. 

 

I work in the service industry ( oilfield trash ) where sometimes fulfilling your customers needs demands the dreaded " I think your problem may be better handled by someone else". Or " I'm not equipped for this situation". No one wants to turn away a client but then again, you don't want to do a sub-par job either. On the flip side, you may currently be the best and most patient instructor available to them. 

 

Anyone who who participates in a shooting sport knows that all our lingo is not cut and dried. Instructiors routinely attempt to speak about thoughts & feelings instead of tangible items. I could see a language barrier compounding the difficulty there. 

 

All that being said, some good help is better than none at all. End of ramble. Best of luck whichever way you go. 

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2 hours ago, Part_time_redneck said:

Best of luck whicheve

Very well expressed, thank you. 

I spoke to a friend who said he'd translate if he got to be in the class as well for free. Hahaha. 

 

I think I'll have to defer. They seemed to connect well with me but they need more than just amiability. 

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Conveying safety, across a language barrier is paramount and I am not sure I could thoroughly do that? Sure, you can demonstrate grip and skills but when they start allowing the muzzle to stray in an unsafe direction could be difficult to convey in an immediate response with a hot weapon. Personally I would pass. How would you feel if they injured someone a month down the road knowing that “you” were their teacher? Seems like a liability case gone wrong.

Edited by igolfat8
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1 hour ago, egd5 said:

train (bjj ??) with?

brazilian jiu jitsu, a grappling martial art commonly shortened to bjj. he only speaks spanish as well. so our conversations are usually brief and related to training.

 

Like I originally posted, it gave me pause. But I wanted to know if it was because it was hard or because it shouldn't be done.

 

Must I do it? Nope. Should I do it? Not required. Can I do it? Possibly. But I think the language barrier is too great.

3 hours ago, igolfat8 said:

a month down the road knowing that “you” were their teacher

That argument can be applied to any of the things I've taught. What if an xray tech over exposed a patient? What if a motorcyclist crashes and dies? What if a soldier steps in front of an industrial Cobalt source?  Everything I teach is well within my "scope of practice", follows a written curriculum and norms deemed reasonable and prudent by my peers and professional groups. Plus two insurance policies! hahaha.

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Back in the bad old days I could have just asked the ITAR/ compliance person and they'd ask me if they were a foreign national and we'd go from there. hahaha.  Thank you all for your inputs, I figured it wasn't an every day occurrence.

 

I'll communicate to the son they need to find an instructor who is fluent in Spanish, which should be doable in this area. If not, there's a market for someone!

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There are two parts to a beginner's course - (1) gun and safety fundamentals, and (2) shooting technique.

 

You absolutely need to either speak the language or to have written material translated to the target language for part (1). You can't mime safety and gun fundamentals. As for the shooting part, it's doable even if it might not be too effective. At least in the beginner course you can show most of the items and you can skip almost all of the nuances that would require more elaborate communication. 

 

Seems like you have ti handled with the translator. That's the best way to do it...

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Rowdyb> That is a sticky situation. From what you described it sounds like they simply need basic gun handling, marksmanship and safety training. It shouldn't be hard to find a local competition shooter who speaks fluent Spanish that you can refer them to. Getting into an interpreter scenario is sketchy. Especially if the interpreter isn't knowledgeable about firearms.

 

I work in the tech service industry and have to use interpreters for international service scenarios several times a year. Every time that happens details get omitted or lost in translation during the interpretation process and it causes significant delays. This may sound crazy but in those scenarios I have had better luck with typing everything out and then having them translate it directly. This is especially helpful when you are trying to walk someone through a process one step at a time. 

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I don’t want this to come off in the wrong tone but are they US Citizens? I would think they would have to speak or read some English to pass the citizenship exam, no? If they are not US Citizens, do they legally own gun(s)? If the latter, are you opening up yourself to liability issues teaching illegals how to shoot an illegally obtained gun?

Edited by igolfat8
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