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Top 10 in-Demand Languages in Medical Interpretation

Medical interpreting is a professionally rewarding and emotionally comforting task. Knowing you can facilitate communication between doctors and patients and helping people receive proper medical treatment makes you feel you are doing an outstanding job.

The United States has a growing number of immigrants. Thus, more and more people are speaking languages other than English.

This means that an increasingly diverse population seeking medical attention has limited proficiency in the English (LEP) language. You can already visualize the next scenario. There will be a demand for other languages in medical interpretation.

Language access program in healthcare

In the past, many cases of medical mistranslation and misinterpretation have caused serious damages, physically and financially. The absence of regulations allowed a bilingual person, and families and friends of patients to act as their translator and interpreter. More often than not, their translation or interpreting act was not correct, causing the healthcare provider to make the wrong diagnosis.

A wrong diagnosis can have a snowball effect. So instead of curing the patient, it can worsen the patient’s condition.

Medical terms are difficult. It takes a person with experience in the field, specific training, and fluency in a language pair to be a professional medical interpreter.

With the difficulty in communication, discrimination ensued. The increasing incidence of miscommunication between LEPs and healthcare providers prompted the government to create specific laws to protect their rights. The government wants everyone to have equal access to services.

The creation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires medical organizations, facilities, and medical providers that receive federal funding to provide a language access program. Aside from access to basic services, the law prohibits specific organizations to discriminate based on national origin, the national language, color, or race.

Executive Order 13166 covers Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency. This order clarifies the provision to ensure LEPs must have meaningful access to basic services. Meaningful access means that the facility should provide language help services, including interpreting and translation services.

The law also requires organizations and healthcare providers to identify the 15 most spoken languages in the communities they serve. Patients can access medical interpretation and translation services in these languages.

Top 10 in-demand languages in medical interpretation

The law requires hospitals, healthcare facilities, and healthcare providers that receive federal funding must provide language access programs. They must choose the 15 most commonly spoken languages. Each state has a varied mix of immigrants, which means the top 15 languages vary as well.

Looking at the list for each state, you’ll find some common languages. These languages are the most in-demand for medical interpretation services, considering the number of speakers in each state.

The list includes:

  1. Spanish
  2. Chinese
  3. Vietnamese
  4. Filipino
  5. Korean
  6. Persian
  7. Russian
  8. Japanese
  9. Arabic
  10. Thai
  11. German
  12. Portuguese
  13. Polish
  14. French
  15. Urdu

The global need for language services

The world is more interconnected today, which increases the demand for language services. People are more familiar with translation and interpreting services. But now more companies are into localization and transcreation. Creators of online content and a variety of digital platforms need language services.

Linguistic diversity exists in many parts of the world. For example, Europe accounts for nearly half of the world’s language services industry. The Latin American market is quite huge, as Spanish is one of the topmost spoken languages worldwide.

Businesses operate internationally, spurring the need for proper communication between global partners that do not share the same language. Organizations and people need language services to resolve the language gap.

Looking back: The importance of language access

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Language professionals worldwide felt the fallout. While some could continue their operations remotely, some declared they will only come to work when the pandemic is over. This was the scenario during the first few months of the pandemic.

Other language professionals were not so lucky. In Italy, for example, the Italian members of the International Federation of Translators appealed for support for 5,000 professional translators and interpreters who lost $11.1 million in one month.

The experiences of language professionals vary depending on their location and the type of language services they do. Translators were luckier because most of them are working remotely. They could get work despite the pandemic.

It was a different matter for interpreters since their job often involved face-to-face work. Since organizations curtailed events and conferences around the world, the situation looked bleak for them. Many clients who made early booking tried to use the force majeure argument to avoid paying the cancellation fees.

It was better for the remote interpreters. Since on-site interpreters were told to stay at home, translation companies with remote interpreting services gained an advantage.  Healthcare facilities with over-the-phone interpreting and video remote interpreting services setups continued their services.

Several large language services providers advised their clients to consider remote interpreting services before deciding to cancel their bookings. The service providers showed resoluteness by developing strategies and quick mobilization of remote interpreting solutions to prevent their interpreters from losing work and income.

The future of language interpreters

The job outlook for interpreters and translators is still good. Globalization, the availability of vaccines for Covid-19 and the increasing number of non-English speakers in the United States and elsewhere make the industry viable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment will continue and grow by 20% until 2029.

We serve the critical need for interpreting services

eTranslation Services is ready to serve the interpreting needs of many organizations, companies, and businesses, including healthcare services to bridge the communication gap. We can quickly connect you to our native-speaking interpreters living in-country, whenever you need experienced and highly trained interpreters for any type of business. Please email through [email protected] or call us at (800) 882-6058.


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