Linguistic Diversity

Sometimes a newcomer or CoDA member may come to a meeting that is conducted in a language that is not their primary language.   While it is our primary purpose to carry the message, it may seem unlikely that we can help when we do not speak the same language.

There may be some possible immediate responses to help support a newcomer:

  • Is there a member present who is willing to serve as a translator for the meeting?  *A suggestion is to speak privately to the member, as they may need to focus on their own recovery and not on service that day.
  • Are there CoDA materials that you can refer the person to in the person’s primary language? This may involve showing the newcomer a webpage or a literature order form. How can the group still be a resource? There are official CoDA materials in SpanishJapanese and Chinese available through CoRE and materials are often available worldwide through different voting entities and intergroup offices, for example in Germany,  The CoDA Translation Management Committee may be able to assist in developing resources in additional languages (email:tmc@coda.org).

A meeting can proactively plan for members who are not fluent speakers in the language of the meeting:

  • Can your group purchase literature in other languages in case a newcomer arrives? For example, for English speaking meetings in bilingual English/Spanish regions, perhaps you can have brochures in Spanish (CoRE offers several brochures in Spanish); in Spanish speaking meetings, perhaps a few brochures can be made available in English.
  • If you have a regular member who is willing to serve as an interpreter, you can add this to your meeting information on your Meeting Listing. You can stipulate to please call beforehand to make arrangements.

Another area where members may need linguistic support is at CoDA events.  Perhaps if you are holding an event in an area where multiple languages are common (or where you may have attendees who speak different languages), accommodations for these events could include:

  • Translation of any presentation into second or multiple languages. This can be arranged with bilingual members who are willing to be of service. Or, if funds allow, formal translation. Some events have had headphones for members to hear in their primary language.
  • Arrange for workshops to be held in a second language.
  • Try to have a volunteer member among those manning a booth if one is set up, and to have pamphlets in other languages.

Many CoDA members have experience on this topic, as many successful events have been held with more than one language. If your group has had experience, please submit any suggestions and resources.

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