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My Journey to Becoming a Bilingual SLP

by Liliana Diaz March 29, 2019 1 Comment

My Journey to Becoming a Bilingual SLP

¡Hola! ¿Que tal? My name is Liliana Diaz-Vazquez and I am a bilingual speech language pathologist Chicago, IL where I have been practicing as a bilingual SLP for the last 5 years. I am proudly Mexican-American and a native Spanish speaker, a sequential bilingual to be exact! Spanish was my first language growing up and then I acquired English once enrolled in elementary school. I have quite an interesting story on how I became a SLP (as I am sure most of you do because speech language pathology isn’t a common area of study). But more specifically, my story is about how I became a bilingual speech language pathologist.

I’ve always had a strong passion for working with the bilingual population and making a difference in the Latino community since I can remember and picking a career to study was not an easy task. Luckily, my mother has always been my life guidance counselor and I would say that I owe a lot of my career choices to her. My mother always urged to me pursue a career in the medical or healthcare industry where I can utilize my Spanish-speaking skills, in hopes that I can make a difference in the Latinx community. The reason for this is because, growing up in a household where Spanish is the language predominately spoken, meant trips to the doctor with my grandmother or making phone calls for my dad in order to interpret for them. My mother always stressed the importance of being able to find someone who is proficient in Spanish when going to a hospital or any type of facility. But most importantly, she often stressed that the quality of care and communication improves greatly when you have someone that relates to you on a cultural level.  And this statement stuck with me forever. She embedded this mission in me, which was to work hard and make a difference in the Spanish-speaking or bilingual community and I am thankful for that.

Now let’s fast forward to undergrad in college. At the time, I did not know much about speech language pathology, but I did know that I wanted to serve the bilingual and Latino community. I was attending the University of Illinois at Chicago and majoring in psychology.  My long-term goal was to become a psychologist and open up my own private practice dedicated towards serving the Latinx community. This goal of mine quickly changed when I realized that psychology no longer interested me. My mother continued to persuade me to look into speech language pathology and I finally took her advice. After much research, and after interviewing my community SLPs, I decided to apply to a different school and change my career path. 

I was very fortunate to receive admission to the undergraduate program for communication sciences and disorders (CSDI) at Saint Xavier University (SXU). In 2012, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in CSDI and was immediately accepted into the speech language pathology master’s program at SXU as well. The program did not have a bilingual emphasis or bilingual program, however, I’ve always known that this was the population I wanted to work therefore, I had asked my clinical supervisors and professors for clinical placements and internships within the bilingual population. I was fortunate enough to gain hands-on experience with this population in the school and medical setting. In addition, I was extremely fortunate to have had amazing bilingual supervisors. By the time graduation was near, I had gained experience in diagnosing, treating and evaluating students and patients from diverse and culturally linguistic backgrounds. However, my learning did not stop there.

 After graduation, I continued to pursue continuing education courses in bilingual language development and spent countless hours reading research articles associated with bilingual language development and disorders. In addition, my first job was in two elementary schools where the school population primarily consisted of 90% English language learners. By the end of my CF year, I felt confident enough to say that I had met the American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA) standards for bilingual service delivery which states the following: “Bilingual SLPs must be able to independently provide comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services for speech, language, cognitive, voice, and swallowing disorders using the client’s/patient’s language and preferred mode of communication. They must also have the linguistic proficiency to describe the process of normal speech and language acquisition—for both bilingual and monolingual speakers of that language, including how those processes are manifested in oral and written language (or manually coded languages when applicable); select, administer, and interpret formal and informal assessment procedures to distinguish between communication differences and communication disorders; apply intervention strategies for treatment of communication disorders in the language or mode of communication most appropriate for the needs of the individual.”

Becoming a bilingual SLP was a long journey but well worth the time. I welcome any questions from anyone interested in pursuing speech language pathology with a bilingual emphasis. 



Liliana Diaz
Liliana Diaz

Author


1 Response

Ashley
Ashley

August 24, 2020

Amazing story! I loved reading about your passion for bilingualism and wanting to help serve the Latinx community. It truly is inspirational. As someone a part of the Latinx community who aspires to become bilingual in the future, this is very empowering. Thank you for sharing your journey!

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