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Language Barriers in Health Care  

This guide provides accurate and reliable resources for nurses and health care professionals to use when encountering situations with non-English speaking patients and how to expand that communication barrier.
Last Updated: Jan 6, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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US Department of Health and Human Services

The US Department of Health and Human Services has this website that includes documents pertaining to persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).  



A LEP individual will benefit from an interpreter who will translate to and from the person’s primary language. The LEP person may also need English written documents translated into his or her primary language so that person can understand important documents related to health and human services.

Language Websites

These free online resources offer visitors a variety of languages to practice!

BBC LanguageProduced by the BBC. Phrase dictionary covers 36 languages. Has a variety of free interactive lessons including audio & video. Also has links to commercial classes, products, etc.

Polyglot: This resource is dedicated to helping members learn foreign languages by providing them a way to memorize words and their meanings. 

Spanish Medical Language Websites

Medical Spanish Dialogs: Actual medical dialogs that you might have with your Spanish speaking patients. This resource also includes audio.

Spanish DictionaryConsidered the world's largest Spanish language learning and reference website. They offer the best English to Spanish translation from the top Spanish translators and English to Spanish to English dictionaries. We include more than 5,000 video Spanish translations. Interested in learning Spanish? We have over 60 professionally-produced, fun videos so you can study and learn Spanish

The National Network of Libraries of MedicineCourse materials for '¿No Comprende? Spanish Health Information Resources for English Speaking Librarians', a 4 hour, hands-on course developed by NN/LM for learning basic medical and Internet Spanish vocabulary. You will also learn to evaluate and identify health websites in Spanish to which you can direct your patrons.

Polish Medical Language Websites

American Student Government: Covers basic introductory phrases and pronounciations for Polish-English and English-Polish translations. Being able to say hello and goodbye in a patient's native tongue (even with the translator present in the room) will help the patient feel welcome and more at ease in your presence! This website offers Polish-English and English-Polish translations services, which also includes editing and proofreading translated texts for medical, pharmaceutical and chemical texts.

Translation Cloud: Offers translation services and free single word and phrase translation from Polish-English and English-Polish. This resource can also translate Polish into over 100 other languages.


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