ATISDA Blog (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area)

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Guest Blog: Spotlight on Social Media Resources

Intro: The ATISDA Blog is a group effort and would not be possible without the ongoing contributions from various members. This week we pass the baton to our group’s VP, Yolanda Secos. In her guest blog, Yolanda compiles a list of English-language resources that translators and interpreters alike will find useful, if not essential.

Yolanda Secos is an English-to-Spanish translator specializing in education. She has been an ATISDA member since its founding in 2008 and served as VP of Social Media from 2012 until 2015 when she was elected VP of ATISDA. She is still the administrator of the group’s Facebook page and discussion group. Yolanda has also served as the ATA SPD Social Media Committee Chair since 2012.

Facebook Pages & Twitter Accounts: English Grammar Edition

By Yolanda Secos

I was asked to contribute a list of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of the quarterly newsletter of the Spanish Language Division of the American Translators Association Intercambios. You can read it here (pg. 5).

When I compiled that list I had in mind those colleagues who have Spanish as one of their working languages. I really wanted to create a similar one for the ATISDA blog, but I was not sure how to make it relevant to our ATISDA members since we are very fortunate to have professionals working in many different languages. After attending the “Advanced English Workshop” presented by Daire Coco on June 27th, I thought that we could all benefit from a list of resources about the English language which can be found on Facebook and Twitter. If you already like the ATISDA Facebook page and belong to the “Atisda Discussion Group,” you might like the following Facebook pages & Twitter accounts:

Grammar Girl
English Grammar
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
A Way With Words
Grammar Monkeys
AP Stylebook
The Chicago Manual of Style
Urban Dictionary

Which are you favorite English language-related Facebook pages & Twitter accounts? Leave a comment to let us know!

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Volunteers Help Bridge Language Gap at San Diego International Airport


Volunteer Airport Ambassadors assist a traveler at San Diego International Airport.

A few months ago, I became a volunteer Airport Ambassador at San Diego’s airport. I joined this organization because I love to travel and thought it would be fun assisting visitors to our fine city. And fun it is! More than I imagined, actually. San Diego’s airport may not be one of the nation’s largest, but it truly is international. And that, to me, is what makes it such an exciting place to be. Its location near the Mexican border, and daily flights to Mexico, Canada, England and Japan, help attract a growing number of visitors from all over the world. Last year, in fact, the airport served 672,972 international passengers—a record high.

Many of these international passengers have never been to San Diego and come to us seeking transportation and tourist information. Most of them speak at least some English, but not all of them do. And that’s another area where my fellow Ambassadors and I can often assist. Out of the organization’s 325 members, about 50 of us speak another language besides English, at least conversationally. So far, I’ve met other volunteers who speak Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Vietnamese and Tagalog. And Airport Ambassador program director, Gina Bernsen, tells me there are other members who speak Hebrew, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Swedish and Persian.

Because the airport is so close to the Mexican border, it’s not surprising that Spanish is the foreign language that’s highest in demand. On average, I use Spanish at least a couple of times per four-hour shift. Often it’s to assist passengers who come up from Tijuana to fly out of San Diego. Normally they just need to know where to go to check in for their flight, which can be confusing even for people who speak English. I also help out people who drive up from Tijuana to meet arriving passengers. Those folks usually come to me looking for flight information, which can be tricky when they don’t know the airline or flight number. Even when I’m assisting passengers coming off the London flight, or walking through the terminals with the therapy dog teams, I find myself using Spanish to communicate with at least a few people.


Me and Dexter, one of the San Diego airport’s therapy dogs that I team up with as an Airport Ambassador.

Airport Ambassadors can still assist passengers even when they don’t speak their language. For example, if a traveler needs instructions in Spanish on how to get from the San Diego airport to Tijuana, we have flyers that tell them how to do that. We also have access to an interpreter hotline that we can dial when the situation calls for it. Sometimes, though, airport visitors bridge the language gap themselves. A few weeks ago, for instance, two young guys came up to me and showed me the screen on their iPhone that read “International Arrivals.” In the background, I could see that they had used Google Translate to translate the term from their native language (Arabic, I think). Fortunately, we were already in the International Arrivals area, so all I had to do was nod and point to the sign to let them know they were in the right place. No words needed. Another time a deaf woman came up to me and motioned for a pen and paper. She wrote down her question and then read my lips when I answered her. As she turned to leave, she mouthed and signed the words “thank you.” That was a cool moment.

If you would like to put your communication skills to work and experience some cool moments yourself, I encourage to join the Airport Ambassador program, which is sponsored by the Travelers Aid Society of San Diego. You can go to the Airport Ambassador website to find out more, or call the program’s director, Gina Bernsen, directly at 619-400-2266. She always welcomes new recruits.


Gina Bernsen is the Travelers Aid Director of Visitor Services and is always looking for volunteers for the Airport Ambassador program.