As more and more tourists, students and workers from all over the world come to the United States, it's unfortunate that so many of us have only English, or the limited fluency in languages we studied briefly in high school or college. Often, we have to refer clients to others who know languages we lack - there were lots of choices in Maryland. When I lived in Silver Spring, MD, just north of Washington, D.C., the population was very diverse and it wasn't unusual to hear other languages than English and Spanish whevever one went. Taking NAR's Living with Diversity course was practical, although I was distressed at the part of where the class was asked to generalize about various ethnic groups - the very thing I thought we were trying to learn not to do. A prominent law firm there had a very comprehensive Spanish version of their guide to real estate, and we had some NAR documents in Spanish - I haven't needed them lately and will have to look them up.
One fun and useful tool for translation is www.babelfish.yahoo.com, a free translation service. I discovered this in RECYBER's newsletter, Real Estate Cybertips. If you haven't discovered the Real Estate Cyberspace Society, I highly recommend it. In addition to monthly hints and useful links. there's a link to www.recyber.com/cyber_tools/cyber-tools.cfm, which is useful to me and great to pass along to others. To test Babelfish, I put in a couple of sentences in English and asked for Spanish translation. I tried it with several other languages, and tested by translating back to English. Then I played with the translation of web sites. I put in the main page of my website, www.TNTriCitiesHomes.com, and within a minute, the following appeared. I was amazed. http://babelfish.yahoo.com/translate_url?doit=done&tt=url&intl=1&fr=bf-res&trurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.TNTriCitiesHomes.com&lp=en_es&btnTrUrl=Translate I wonder how long it would take to make the whole thing available in Spanish. Or maybe the easier thing would be to compose a page about buying real estate, with instructions about going to www.babelfish.yahoo.com , with the links they'd be most likely to want. Another useful similar site is www.Frengly.com, which has free translations to many languages. I spent far too long playing with this, but I had a lot of fun. Typing in a simple sentence and then clicking on a variety of languages was enlightening. Maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to tell your high school kids about this sort of site, but I think it would be a useful tool to an adult trying to get fluent in another language. (I had pretty good luck a few years ago by augmenting Spanish lessons and tapes with a bi-lingual Bible. Seeing the Spanish verses in a column next to the familiar English ones worked wonders for vocabuary building and grammar. Unfortunately, I didn't keep up with it and have lost most of what I once had.)