How can we overcome language barriers in health care?

This month we published Providing Health Care in the Context of Language Barriers edited by Elizabeth A. Jacobs and Lisa C. Diamond. In this post the editors tell us about the inspiration behind the book and what we can expect from reading it.

Have you ever had to seek health care in a country where you did not speak the language? Have you ever thought about what the experiences of the patient, care provider and, if present, interpreter are?

As immigration continues and grows across the globe, this has become a frequent experience for patients around the world. Many patients and their health care providers have to communicate across a language barrier, often in collaboration with an interpreter, formal or informal. In this situation, patients’ needs may not be understood or met because of lack of adequate communication. The nature and complexity of language barriers in health care vary within and across nations due to the culture and political nature of the nation and/or the linguistic groups seeking health care in those countries. With this diversity of contexts comes a need for diverse approaches to overcoming language barriers in health care. The goal of our book is to provide a collection of chapters describing these different approaches, their advantages and disadvantages, and special issues which need to be considered in particular contexts or linguistic groups.

This edited volume provides an excellent overview of the global challenge health care providers and linguistically diverse patients face when they seek health care in settings where it is delivered in a language other than their own. The contributing authors provide a diverse set of insights into these challenges and means for overcoming them and highlight how the likely best solutions to the problem of language barriers in health care vary depending on where you are in the world, what means of overcoming them are available, how policy shapes or does not shape these solutions, and the culture, language, and language abilities of the patients being served. They also provide a number of practical ideas and recommendations as to how to address these challenges, from how to work effectively with informal interpreters to developing a means for measuring physician language proficiency. These recommendations sometimes conflict, indicating that, while the challenge is consistent and global, the means for addressing language barriers in health care settings are varied and context-dependent.

We hope you find valuable evidence for the diversity of linguistic needs in the health care setting around the world in this book and that it serves you as an important resource for understanding this increasing global challenge, the different means for addressing it, and issues that must be addressed when developing solutions.

Patients worldwide deserve to be heard and understood and we hope this work helps make this happen.

For more information about this book, please visit our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Medical Discourse in Professional, Academic and Popular Settings edited by Pilar Ordóñez-López and Nuria Edo-Marzá and Ideology, Ethics and Policy Development in Public Service Interpreting and Translation edited by Carmen Valero-Garcés and Rebecca Tipton.

The relationship between tourism texts and society

In February, we published Sabrina Francesconi’s book Reading Tourism Texts in our Tourism and Cultural Change series. Here, Sabrina gives us some further background to the book.

After ten years of academic research and teaching in the field of tourism and travel texts, I really felt the necessity of sharing a conceptual and methodological framework for the approach to authentic domain-specific instances.

Reading Tourism TextsTheoretically, I needed to question and challenge simplistic and biased distinctions between travellers and tourists, and, in turn, between tourism texts and travel literature. As revealed in everyday life and communication, their relation is less dichotomic and more fluid than thought.

As for method, I looked for analytical tools enabling to encompass meaning-making strategies beyond verbal code.  Acknowledging multimodality as a pivotal source of expression and semiosis in tourism discourse, Reading Tourism Texts provides methodological tools for the analysis of interconnected visual, the verbal and aural systems.

Authentic tourist pictures, logos, brochures, blogs, radio programmes and commercials, webpages, wikis, videos and postcards are questioned as case studies in their meaning-making dynamics. Instances are taken from the English-speaking world, ranging from England to Malta, through Canada and New Zealand, India and Ireland, Jamaica and South Africa.

I really hope this volume is of interest to students and researchers in Tourism Studies, Communication Studies, Media Studies, Applied Linguistics and ESP and to stakeholders in tourism.

If you’re interested in this book you find out more information about it on our website.