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Advancement for Non-English (or Spanish) speaking scout

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Have a new 11yr-old scout, whom I'll call John. Family adopted him from mainland China during the summer. John speaks a little English and reads hardly any English. His patrol leader and our troop guide have worked 1-on-1 with him quite often, but just can't get around the language issues.


Once demonstrated, John does well with rank requirements that are "physical", ie, tying square knot, scout salute, handshake, etc. But he's not been able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, describe the Scout badge, show understanding the Scout Oath, Law, etc.


Our Guide pointed out that a Mandarin translation of the Handbook would be a big help. I have recently just given a "heads-up" to his parents (whom I don't believe speak much, if any, Mandarin themselves) about our dilemma.


Short of hiring Mandarin/English translator, does anyone have any suggestions as to how to help John accomplish his remaining Scout rank requirements (to say nothing of higher ranks?) BSA seems to have developed a number of aids for Spanish-speaking members. (All the handbooks can be purchases in Spanish now.)


What do other troop/packs do when faced with members for whom English (or Spanish) is not their primary language?






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Often times there are support networks available for people who adopt children from another country/culture. Ask the parents if they are part of such a network and if so, whether there is anyone in that group who would help with some language issues on a short-term basis. Also find out from the parents what the local school is doing to help this boy. If his English is so weak that he can't do these basic things in a scout meeting, he is probably getting some kind of support services at school. While the school may not be able/willing to provide those services outside of school hours, there might be a contact person who could help the family identify other community-based resources.


Also, do you have a university in your area? Contact them to find out if they have a Mandarin program and/or whether there might be some qualified international students who would be willing to come by and help out for a little while. If you are working with university students - a home cooked dinner thrown in as an incentive goes a long way!


Good luck! And don't forget to view this boy as a resource too - he has a lot to learn about you and about American culture but the other boys can learn a lot from him as well.



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