Seven ways to incorporate Spanish into therapy interactions

Updated: Jan 17

Knowledge and familiarity with Spanish will be different for all of us. You may feel that you have a good understanding of conversational speech but want to incorporate more medical-based terms into your interactions with patients. You may be interested in learning how to say hello and introduce yourself in Spanish. You may be interested in explaining in simple Spanish that you are waiting for the interpreter.

No matter what the knowledge base is - there are simple ways you can incorporate simple Spanish into your interactions to bridge the language gap and show enthusiasm to meet the patient where they are more comfortable (in their native language).

Greet the patient and introduce yourself.

Buenos dias, me llamo _____, soy un terapueta del habla/ patólogo/a del lenguaje..." etc.

Explain that you are waiting for the interpreter to join them.

Estoy esperando al intérprete médico

Ask the patient how they are feeling/doing?

¿Cómo está hoy?

Use names of toys or (animal or other) sounds while playing with a child.

Even if all of what you are saying to the child is in English, and you are using an interpreter to help translate the session, you could still throw out a 'vaca' when the kid finds the cow - to make the connection between 'cow' and the word they may hear in the home.

Produce comments in Spanish and English (Uh-oh it fell! ¡Se cayó!)

As children are learning more English, it can be helpful to produce words in English and Spanish - as we treat each language vocabulary as a separate 'word' in their lexicon.

Provide commands in Spanish (siéntese, trague/pase la comida, tome un sorbo, ven acá)

Kids may be used to hearing commands in Spanish and may respond better. If you are working with an adult, simple cueing them to 'swallow' in their native language may comfort a stressful situation.

Use verbs in Spanish to provide directions or to comment on the play. (está brincando/saltando! wow, un carro!) Incorporate numbers or colors into your session.

If you know colors in Spanish (Rojo, Amarillo, Azul), you may produce some of the labels in Spanish to comment on the toys. Similarly enough, you could say some simple phrases in Spanish, such as 'está comiendo"(it/he/she is eating) or 'está caminando' (it/he/she is walking)

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Spanish for Speech Language Pathology, LLC

©2021, SpanishSLP

These courses and content offered by Spanish for Speech Language Pathology, LLC do not qualify you to serve as a medical interpreter. They do not provide certification as a bilingual SLP. Visit for guidance on medical interpretation and bilingual service delivery to ensure you continue to work within your ethical boundaries and scope of practice.

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