FLS is pleased to spotlight Ray Ables, a Spanish contract interpreter who resides in Fairhope, Alabama. Ray’s interpreting career began at a very young age while living in Ecuador, where he was born. At the age of four, he accompanied some of his US relatives to the market. There he discovered he could communicate effectively (speak and understand both languages.) From then on, his parents urged him to use English at home to achieve native fluency in both languages. Ray began a second career teaching Spanish full-time (and on occasion Social Studies, History, Latin, and Guitar) in private schools for grades Pre-Kindergarten through Twelfth grade for eight years in various locations in the States. He also obtained a TEFL Certification to teach English.

The ability to speak Spanish and English fluently helped Ray earn both State and National credentials. In 2015, he received his Provisional Certification with the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts, later scoring in the 98th percentile on the Alabama Foreign Language Court Interpreter Written Exam and then passed the Oral Exam to receive full certification. Since 1999, Ray has been a Certified Medical Interpreter by the UAB International Medical Service.

We asked Ray why he enjoys his profession and his reply resonated with us: “I enjoy being of service and knowing that my expertise can help make a difference in someone’s life.” FLS has been grateful to have access to his expertise in the Spanish and English languages since 2015.
Ray has had the opportunity to travel and live in Ecuador and Argentina for a combined 16 years. Stateside, he has lived in Illinois, Arizona, and New Mexico before coming to Alabama, where for the last ten years, he has resided in Fairhope, Alabama and assists FLS mainly in South Alabama.

Ray is a world-wide traveler, and his language skills expand beyond Spanish and English. He is also conversational in Portuguese and can speak a little French, Italian, German, and Latin. And to add to his language skills, Ray enjoys music and plays the guitar, saxophone, and auxiliary percussion.

It is such a pleasure to work with Ray!

On April 6th, 2018, Foreign Language Services was pleased to host its Spring interpreter orientation, Well-being and Safety of the Interpreter, for contract interpreters and in-house staff.  The role of the interpreter is important, but often results in vicarious trauma to him/her, and, if this goes unrecognized or ignored, may cause harm. The orientation, designed and delivered by Maria Boyette, CMI, provided many useful tools that interpreters could take away and practice outside the classroom setting.

Ten freelancers participated in the orientation; many of them traveled from different areas of the state, giving up work hours to be part of the event.  They shared their own experiences, while following HIPAA regulations of privacy, and, by doing so, received affirmation from other interpreters in similar situations.

Interpreters left with several types of stress relievers such as breathing therapy exercises, stress balls, chocolate, and essential oils. The feedback FLS received from the contract interpreters who attended was positive. It was even more affirming when FLS staff attended the ITAA conference the following weekend and enjoyed a very similar vicarious trauma session!  This reinforced our belief of the importance of interpreters taking care of their health in the workplace.  We hope to repeat this orientation in the future.

War Eagle!  Caroline Myers, President of FLS, was invited to her Alma Mater, Auburn University, to speak at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature Awards Ceremony last Friday, April 13th.  What an honor to be back at Auburn to speak to many young language scholars, family members, and friends who traveled to Auburn to celebrate these awards. Dr. Giovanna Summerfield, Professor and Associate Dean for Educational Affairs, College of Liberal Arts, Dr. Traci O’Brien, Chair of AU’s Foreign Language Department and Dr. Julia Pittman, Professor and Chair of the Scholarship Committee welcomed the attendees and presided over the Awards Ceremony.

Pictured left to right: Dr. Pittman, Dr. O’Brien, Caroline Myers, and Dr. Summerfield

“I entitled my talk “Tiger Walk – AU to FLS”.  An Auburn fan ever since her family moved there in 1949, this seemed an apt description of her story. I began learning French in the Classe de Quatrième in Nice, France, majored in French at Auburn and spent her junior year at the Université de Dijon. “The Auburn administration was 100% behind me, even though at the time, the University did not offer a specific Junior Year Study Abroad program.  My story went on to describe FLS’s founding, i.e. why the co-founders…herself and Judith Smith…came up with such a bold idea, considering their backgrounds were in Liberal Arts and teaching French in Huntsville’s public schools.  Judy and I founded FLS in 1979.  “Today, I continue as FLS’s President and, with the help of five fantastic employees and over 75 contractors, continue FLS’s mission and vision to provide technical language services to our clients in over 80 languages.”

“As I was reflecting on my story, I realized that Judy and I must have had what business Author and Psychologist Angela Duckworth calls “Grit”…neither of us were talented translators or interpreters, but we knew there was a need in Huntsville for a professional firm who would be accountable to our customers. We would find appropriately trained and technical linguists to fulfill our mission.”

“I applied this idea of Grit to what students of foreign languages must have to study intensely and learn a language!  They must practice, practice, practice!  They must read, read, read to expand their vocabularies in both their native and prospective language.  The students receiving awards and named scholarships are challenged daily…many heads nodded affirmatively when they heard me say “Would you agree that learning to speak a foreign language is FLAT-OUT DIFFICULT?!”


Professor Gutierrez with students Taylor Mackowski and Peyton Camp

It was a pleasure for Caroline to meet one of the department’s professors, Jana Francesca Gutierrez, who teaches a translation class, and two award-winning students, Ms. Taylor Mackowski, winner of an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and Ms. Peyton Camp, This is Research Student Symposium Award, among many others who attended the ceremony.”

Caroline also was pleased to meet another Auburn professor, Rachel Perry, who had provided Italian interpreting services for FLS!  What a small world!”

Attendees and their families

Amanda Darnell (Germany) and Sarah Pitts (Columbia) received Fulbright Scholarships; Amanda Darnell was also awarded the Eugene Current-Garcia Phi Kappa Phi Scholar’s Award; Bradley Bayuga received the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) honor and Elizabeth Farrar the RISE – DAAD (Germany) award.

Zac Jones received the Escarpanter Memorial Endowed Scholarship and the Mary and Michael O’Neil Scholarship.  In addition, two students, Amelia Grace Hill (Spanish) and Daniel Lane (French) were named Castanoli Young Scholars.  Gregory Crook, Amanda Harmon, Natalie Hester, Green Karp, Angela Lotito, Erin McDyer and Lexi Smith were recognized as Castanoli Abroad scholars.

Michelle Adcock, Madison Adlich, Rayna Burkard, Emily Coxwell, Amanda Darnell, Daniel Hance, Elisabeth Hess, Nicole Hogue, Matt Hulstrand, Jesse Jordan, Abby Knowling, Rebecca Leo, Meg McCalley, Audrey Olson and Calista Rogers all received the Wiatt Achievement Award.

Many students were inducted into the German, French and Hispanic Honor Societies.


German Honor Society



After the ceremonies, we all enjoyed refreshments.  It was especially enjoyable meeting many students and their families!  I am proud to be an Auburn grad!  War Eagle!

When it comes to the Korean language, Steven Bammel is no stranger. His skill has been a great asset to FLS as a contract translator. In his words: “learning the language (Korean) has been my passion for the last 25 years.” However, growing up in the Dallas, Texas area with his family, there was a strong focus on the Latin American/Spanish culture, part in due to his parents’ involvement serving in the Peace Corps in Chile in the 60s. In the 80s, he and his family spent a few years on short-term missionary trips to Colombia. Despite being surrounded by the heavy Hispanic influence it was the Indian culture that drew Steven’s interest!

While studying at the University of Texas at Arlington, (graduating in 1993 with a B.B.A. in Economics), Steven spent his 1989-90-year backpacking through India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Unsurprisingly, upon graduation, the thought of a 9 to 5 job was not quite as appealing as he had hoped. His journey of the Korean language began when he accepted a position to teach English.

Steven’s career as a Korean linguist began at LG International Corporation in Seoul, Korea, as an English editor. He then moved into translation, handling the company newsletter, website, and other public corporate materials, and less editing. In 1998, Steven received his first contracting job as a freelance translator. He started his freelancing career with multiple Korean translation agencies. By the year 2000, he was translating for US agencies.

Steven likes being a contract translator.  When asked what he enjoys most about this, he said: “It’s taken me a long time to realize just how much translation is what I was born to do. I enjoy analyzing a source text and figuring out how to render it into the target text. I also find working alone in my home office to be a comfortable way to earn a living. It’s nice that I can do most of it without phone calls, and instead interact with clients and other associates over email, which doesn’t require as much spontaneity. I don’t like to think on my feet, and translation lets me take the time I need to work on things at my pace and in ways I feel comfortable. I enjoy leveraging technology and learning about different topics.”   From our point of view, we have supplied him with plenty of topics…our records show he has translated over 300 jobs!

Steven Bammel plans to leave the hustle and bustle of the States and settle down indefinitely in Korea. He had a brief hiatus from Korea when he and his family came back to the United States in the early 2000s. Then, in early 2008, he moved back to Korea, with his family, to study at Hanyang University, the business graduate school. He received his M.S. in Management Strategy in 2011, and shortly thereafter entered the Ph.D. program. Working full time as a contract translator has slowed his progress of attaining his Ph.D.; however, he expects to finish his dissertation on self-employment in the Korean service sector in a couple of years. The Bammels live in the States now so that their children can graduate from high school in America. But with their son about to graduate and a daughter who is already in college, the plan to move to Deokjeok island, an island off the west coast of Korea, is becoming more of a reality. Steven is eager to have the experience of living on an island. But even with his indefinite move to Korea, he expects to have internet and plenty of work to occupy his time.

It is such a pleasure to work with Steven, and to leverage his knowledge of the Korean language and culture!


FLS shares the following excerpt, written by Stephanie Wiley, a certified Spanish medical interpreter and Education Manager at ALTA Language Service because it says so much about what interpreters face daily. It emphasizes why FLS believes fully in ongoing education and orientation for the interpreters whom we call upon. In Stephanie’s words:

“As our field develops and becomes more professionalized, we’re making incremental progress. People are beginning to understand why interpreters are necessary, and there are more and more training requirements for people who provide interpretation services. But many people in healthcare still don’t understand our role, and it’s still common to encounter interpreters who are working with no training. In many cases, we’re still equated with a bilingual family member instead of being seen as a professional part of the medical team. Which is why we hear things like, “Oh can you walk her to the pharmacy,” or “Do you mind just telling her what this surgical consent form says,” or “Would you just sit with her for 4 hours on a psych ward without a provider present.”

Here’s the thing: I think we are (at least in part) responsible for educating people about the role we play. Part of me really believes that interpreters will only be seen as professionals when we collectively insist on acting within our professional boundaries. We teach people how to treat us. When we break our ethics, the people we work with never learn what we’re actually there to do, and they grow to expect all interpreters to do the same.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the field of translation and interpretation is projected to grow by 18% by 2026, which is must faster than average. It’s my hope that as this field grows, the understanding of how interpreters form part of this equation will grow as well. This is just something that is going to take time, persistent education on all sides (interpreters, providers and patients), and a collective and deliberate commitment to holding ourselves to a higher standard. Let’s do it together.”

-Stephanie Wiley, Alta Language Services

This excerpt comes from a blog post sent to us by one of FLS’s contract medical certified interpreters, Mila Baker. The post in its entirety provides an insight into what interpreter’s face on a daily basis in the medical profession. As the interpreter, the role he/she plays is vital for conducting a successful appointment between the healthcare professional and patient. As the interpreting profession, especially in the medical field, grows, the need to understand the role the interpreter plays is crucial. Interpreters should be viewed as a professional and helpful resource and should not be viewed on the same plane as a “bilingual family member” with no formal interpreting training.

Mila said it accurately, we think, to paraphrase her words: “Sometimes (the interpreter) is the only one who can educate providers, not by lecturing them, but by doing our job well and acting according to the ethical principles of our profession.”

If you would like to read the entire blog post that was posted by ALTA, a language company in Atlanta, GA, you can follow the link below. I hope you enjoy this read as much as we did.


In February 2018, FLS hosted a Basics of Interpreting Orientation as part of our commitment to our community to provide interpreters with the basic tools needed to become an effective interpreter. The Orientation, which is held periodically, covers the right and wrong ways to interpret. The instructor, an experienced interpreter and Spanish CMI certified, with a pedagogical background, shares her own experiences and uses videos and role-playing to emphasize necessary skills. From dress code to ethics and the role of interpreting, attendees learn appropriate etiquette which is vital to performing the job well.

Ten individuals attended this orientation, which was held at Valley Hill Country Club, Huntsville, AL. These individuals traveled to Huntsville from all over Alabama and among them, spoke seven different languages: Spanish, Acateco, Gujarati, Korean, Hindi, Punjabi, and American Sign Language.  As we get to know these ten individuals and assess their interest in various settings, we will be able to better provide services to the state-wide community. FLS is looking forward to working with each one.

FLS also provides bi-monthly orientations, which relate to specific fields of interpreting. These orientations equip the interpreter with the appropriate vocabulary for their appointments and provide insight and information to aid the interpreter in providing the services to the best of their ability.  These orientations also encourage interaction and sharing of interpreting experiences. Our next orientation is scheduled for Friday, April 6th at Valley Hill Country Club, Huntsville. It will cover two subjects: Well-being and Safety of the Interpreter and Tax Tips for Self-Employed Contractors. This orientation is available to you if you have taken the Basics of Interpreting Orientation.

If you or someone you know has any interest in becoming an interpreter, and they have a native ability in another language or in American Sign Language, please have them contact our Interpreting Practice Manager, Carolina Coates. (CCoates@FLStranslation.com). She will add them to her ever-growing list!  We look forward to seeing you at our next orientation!

Elizabeth joined the FLS team in 2017 and her journey here is nothing short of extraordinary. She made her way to the states from her home in Mar de Plata, Argentina in 1999. Her first stop: New York! She arrived with only fifteen dollars in her pocket. She came to America to care for her dad, who was very ill, and she cared for him until his passing.  From there, she found her way to Miami and in December 2005 moved with her family to Huntsville.

Elizabeth began her career in the language industry as a bilingual Spanish-English interpreter. Her desire to become an interpreter was sparked when caring for her dad in New York. No interpreters were provided to assist them, so her dad had to act as Elizabeth’s interpreter. This left such an impression that she committed then and there to become a medical interpreter so she could assist others in the same situation.

Deciding to stay in the States after her father’s death, she began learning English. Elizabeth acquired the tool set to be an interpreter through intense study, English classes in Miami, and her studies at Calhoun Community College in Huntsville. It did not take her long to reach her goal of passing the National Board Certification for medical interpreters, which she did in April 2017, and is now a CMI-Spanish interpreter.

FLS got to know Elizabeth first as an independent contractor in 2014. She joined FLS as a full-time staff member in January 2017 and became the Lead Medical Interpreter in October. In this role, she schedules appointments with many busy outpatient clinics and freelance interpreters; however, she would say her most significant role is interpreting for patients of all ages in many of these outpatient clinics!

Elizabeth thoroughly enjoys her role as an interpreter, which gives her the opportunity to provide a bridge between two languages. When asked what she likes about FLS, she said: “Besides interpreting for the many doctors, staff and patients, I enjoy working at FLS because of the office environment and the people I work with! We laugh a lot and we enjoy each other!” The feeling is mutual.

Elizabeth lives in Meridianville, AL, with her two sons, Brandon and Gavin, and her three dogs, Daisy, Sandy, and Hatchee! When she needs to decompress, she scrapbooks or takes the latest Coursera courses.

Eva jokes that although she was born in California, she was made in Mexico. Growing up, Eva’s dad took her and her 4 siblings to Mexico every summer to immerse them in the Spanish language and maintain their Mexican heritage.

Eva has been interpreting from an early age, far before she knew what it meant to be an interpreter. She assisted her father’s landscaping business as a “secretary”, helping his clients and staff communicate. Later on, Eva was introduced to legal interpreting while working at an attorney’s office in California.

The attorney’s office often needed a court interpreter for their clients and she was struck by the level of professionalism and experience possessed by this interpreter. This experience showed her what it meant to be an interpreter, and although she wasn’t an interpreter by professional standards, she was certain she could become one.

When a church friend invited Eva to come to Anniston, Alabama due to a need for interpreters, Eva jumped at the chance to help. Even though the need was in a state across the country, Eva felt ties to the community through her Hispanic heritage. She wasn’t sure if she knew enough to help, but someone told her, “If I don’t need a certificate to speak English, you don’t need a certificate to speak Spanish.” Eva took the opportunity to help and ran with it.

Eva began working with FLS in 2007 after attending one of FLS’s “Beginning of Interpreting” orientations. She works full-time at her local health department, so most of her FLS assignments are after hours DHR appointments.

Eva is now CCHI (Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters) certified and is co-chair of the Education Committee for ITAA (Interpreters and Translators Association of Alabama).

It is obvious to anyone who speaks with Eva that she is passionate about interpreting. She says interpreting is a passion, not a check and that she would do it for free if she could.

Fun fact: Eva owns an ever-growing collection of dictionaries that she studies each night while catching up on Netflix shows.

FLS is grateful for Eva’s excellent work and her many contributions to our company and our community!

Carolina was born and raised in the bustling metropolis of Mexico City, Mexico. She is the youngest of 6 children and the rest of her family still lives in Mexico. Carolina has always enjoyed pushing herself, so when she realized English was her weakest subject in school, she decided to embrace the challenge of becoming bilingual head on.

In 2002, Carolina enrolled at Shane’s Global Village English Center in Calgary, Canada. After completing her courses in Canada, Carolina briefly returned to Mexico before moving to Florida. While living in Florida, she teamed up with a local YMCA and got her first exposure to informal interpreting. Carolina provided pro bono services for clients in need of legal help; she also provided simultaneous interpreting for her church.

After living in Florida for 5 years, Carolina moved to Virginia, and then, finally, Huntsville, AL. When she first arrived here, she was struck by how happy and warm people are in Huntsville. She and her two kids have lived here for the past six years and have made Huntsville their home.

Carolina came to FLS by way of her church and the connections she made there. Although Carolina’s background is in marketing, she has always enjoyed the challenge of mastering new things. Carolina started as the office administrator for FLS in 2015 and was soon thereafter promoted to Interpreting Practice Manager. She has been instrumental in implementing a new scheduling system for contract interpreters. Her favorite thing about working at FLS is being empowered and seeing her ideas coming to fruition. Fun fact: Carolina also loves salsa dancing and is an excellent pianist!

To learn more about Carolina and the rest of the FLS staff, click here to read their bios!

It is such a pleasure to be part of a business that makes a difference in our world on a daily basis. FLS serves our community, state, and country by facilitating communication to limited or non-English speakers and to our corporate customers by providing translation and interpreting services.

In late 2016, the FLS staff, with the help of our business consultant, made a conscious decision to transform FLS in the way we conduct our business, from our mission and core values to our operations. Were we operating as efficiently as possible? Were our employees in the right roles? What could we do better, faster, and more cost effectively? Which sectors had the most potential for growth? What tools and systems could we put in place to assure this transformation? Did our logo, which depicted pages in a book, accurately represent a language service provider in today’s digital world? As a visual sign of our willingness to ask the tough questions and do everything we can to improve and grow as a company, we’re proud to unveil our new logo:

FLS appreciates our customers for their ongoing loyalty over the years. We highly regard our interpreters and translators who provide our clients phenomenal service time after time. As we look forward to 2018, our goal is to continue to grow and evolve as a company.  Please stay tuned for more exciting changes!


Caroline S. Myers

President and Director

FLS, Inc.