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Language barriers exist everywhere.
No business, big or small, is free of them.
No government, either.

A small trip down memory lane through U.S. history will recall the time President Jimmy Carter spoke to a Poland-speaking audience in 1976. He began his speech with “When I left the United States this morning…”
What did the audience hear via an interpreter?
“When I abandoned the United States…”


Such snafus can easily be avoided by businesses (and governments) across the globe thanks to the increasing use of video remote interpretation services. There are nearly seven thousand languages spoken the world over.
Do you know which languages your company should prioritize?
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
Read on for the 10 top languages that interpretation services can anticipate to be in high demand (especially for video remote interpretation services).

  1. Arabic

Did you know that arabic is actually the U.S.’ fastest growing language? It’s true!
Additionally, there are more than 400 million Arabic speakers worldwide. And for many, Arabic is the only language they speak. In the U.S., two-thirds of the Arabic speaking population is concentrated in 10 states, according to the Arab American Institute. However, one-third of the total population of that group is actually only located in three states: Michigan, New York and California. The rest of that majority can be found in Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas and New Jersey.

  1. Chinese Mandarin

Chinese is also among the top interpretation languages with a growing need.
At more than a billion native speakers, Chinese is undoubtedly the most spoken language.
Across the U.S., the need for Chinese language support services is growing along with its use.
As China has solidified itself as a global economic superpower, it has become one of the most in-demand interpretation languages. This is, in part, due to the fact that a number of Chinese speakers who have relocated to the U.S. don’t have a strong grasp of English. This is why when it comes to business, health and many other professions, Chinese Mandarin interpretation services can be quite lucrative. Though English is currently the established language of the Internet, some experts predict Chinese may surpass English in the future. While there are Mandarin Chinese speaking communities across the U.S., the highest populations are in New York and California. Additionally, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and New Jersey have large need for interpretation services for Mandarin. In 2018, Tencent’s simultaneous translation system made a less-than-stellar debut at a high-profile forum in Asia known as Davos. Rather than interpreting what was being said during the event, the AI responded with nonsense that included random characters, repeated words and broken Chinese. Definitely not the outcome you want at any major event you may need to be interpreted at, but especially not if you’re revealing this kind of technology to the world.
Interpretation services for the win.

  1. Spanish

Another of the top 10 languages for interpreting worldwide is Spanish, with around 400 million speakers. It’s also one of the U.S.’ fastest growing languages. At nearly 40 million Spanish speakers in the U.S., there are more Spanish speakers in the United States than in Spain! Additionally, that number is expected to double over the next 30 years. In all but four U.S. states, Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language. This is why it’s always a good idea to offer Spanish interpreting services.
Mistaken interpretation had terrible consequences for one two-year-old girl. She was brought to the hospital by her family with a clavicle fracture. In the absence of a qualified interpreter, her family told a medical resident who spoke some Spanish, “se pegó.” The medical resident interpreted it as “someone hit her.” However, they were saying “she hit herself” when she fell off her tricycle. This mistaken interpretation lead to the young girl being wrongly placed into child protective services.

  1. Urdu

After Chinese and English, Urdu is the third most widely spoken language across the globe. It’s also one of the faster growing languages in the U.S. Though the population of Urdu speakers in the U.S. sits at 400,000 now, that number is expected to significantly rise over the next 20-30 years.
The largest concentration of Urdu speakers can be found on the East Coast in New York and New Jersey. However, there are also burgeoning communities in Texas and Virginia.

  1. French

French, the language of love and romance, is an important language when it comes to international business and commerce and has more than 220 million speakers worldwide. Large French speaking populations exist in New York, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Texas and is the second most common language in Vermont and Maine. To further understand the importance of a good French interpreter, look no further than the phrase “tu es bonne.” While you may have simply wanted to congratulate a new female business partner, the phrase is sometimes interpreted as “you are good … in bed.”

It’s easy to see why interpretation services are the better option than whatever problems that mishap would cause.

  1. Portuguese

There are more than 215 million (and growing) Portuguese speakers worldwide  and it’s the predominant language in Portugal, Brazil and handful of countries in Africa. In the U.S., the East Coast sees the majority of Portuguese speakers. In Massachusetts alone there are nearly 100,000 speakers. New Jersey, Florida and Connecticut also have growing populations.

  1. Russian

There are about 150 million native Russian speakers worldwide and it is spoken across Central and Eastern Europe and obviously Russia. The numbers show that there is a growth potential for interpreting services in Russia. There are Russian speakers across the U.S., with large populations in New Jersey, Washington, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Like many languages, the largest communities exist in New York and California. There are 200,00 Russian speakers combined between the two.

  1. Hindi

There are more than 260 million native Hindi speakers, found mostly in India and the Indian subcontinent. There is no doubt a need for video remote interpretation services for the Hindi speaking population with a high demand for these services in the U.S. The majority can be found in California, with large communities in Texas, New Jersey and Illinois.

  1. Hmong

You will find Hmong being spoken by the people of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and some parts of China, especially in the Guangxi and Sichuan regions.  Hmong is spoken by 2.7 million people worldwide and one-third of those speakers are Hmong Americans. Like many others in this list of the top 10 languages in demand of video remote interpretation services, the Hmong speaking population is one of the fastest growing in the U.SThere are nearly 35,000 Hmong speakers in California, with large groups in Wisconsin and Minnesota as well. It’s important to consider the life-altering mistakes that can come from poor interpretation. 
Lia Lee was a young Hmong girl in California whose parents had limited English speaking skills.  Her parents had difficulty communicating that their daughter was epileptic and tried to inform doctors of the traditional care she was receiving at home in accordance to their cultural customs. The doctors diagnosed her with pneumonia, rather than identifying the problem. Due to her parents not grasping the issue at hand, they failed to properly treat their daughter. This resulted in Lia having a grand mal seizure just before her fifth birthday that left her in a vegetative state for the rest of her life.

  1. Japanese

Rounding out the top 10 interpretation languages is Japanese. There are 500,000 Japanese speakers in the U.S. The majority of those speakers can be found in California, with thriving communities in Washington and Hawaii as well. Sometimes, poor interpretation can change the world. When the Potsdam Declaration was issued by Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Harry S. Truman in July of 1945, the message was clear. Japan must surrender unconditionally or accept the consequences. The Japanese Prime Minister, on behalf of his Cabinet, responded with “Mokusatsu.” This can is translated as “we are considering it.” However, it can also be interpreted as “we are ignoring it.” An interpreter used the latter in an English interpretation that got back to the Allies, who responded in kind by dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The stakes are likely not so high for your business, but this example is probably the biggest ever interpretation error.


Supporting 10 Top Languages for Interpreting

We’ve seen that poor interpretation can have some funny outcomes, but also some very serious ones. It’s easy to see why businesses wouldn’t want to gamble with their interpretation needs.

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of 10 top interpretation languages that are in a high demand for video remote interpretation services, and what areas of the country they are needed in, you can make a more educated plan in regards to your career.

Do you have a funny interpretation story you want to tell us? Share them in the comments below!

We live in a global economy thanks to the Internet age. With that can come challenges, such as a language barrier.
Why would a business let a language barrier keep them from a big sale or opportunity?
A professional interpretation service provider can help businesses overcome such obstacles.
Hiring the right interpretation service provider can be a secret weapon to a sales team when it comes to international business relations.
If you’re a language service company looking to diversify your interpretation offers of even an interpreter looking for an industry to focus on, here a some industries that are worth your time and energy when it’s time for a new sales or marketing campaign:

  1. The Biggest Need Is in Healthcare

In healthcare, the ability to understand a patient might not just affect the bottom line. It could also be a matter of life and death. In 1980, the family of 18-year-old Willie Ramirez brought him into the hospital in a coma.His family told a bilingual staff member that he was “intoxicado.” The staff member translated this as intoxicated, when in reality the definition is more along the lines of ingesting something that made you ill.  They believed he had food poisoning. They treated him as if he had suffered an intentional drug overdose, when in reality he was experiencing an intracerebral hemorrhage. The delay in properly treating him left the 18-year-old baseball player quadraplegic. He received a $71 million malpractice settlement. A proper interpretation service could have saved that boy.

Did you know that U.S. healthcare law states that care providers must advise a patient of their rights?

In the case that a patient not speak English, they must seek an interpreter to guarantee proper communication.
In the U.S., almost 65 million people are not speaking English in their homes. Of that group, 26 million say they don’t have a comfortable grasp of English.
In a medical emergency, like with the case of Willie Ramirez or any of those other 26 million Americans, quick access to an interpreter (or the lack thereof) can have drastic implications on someone’s life or livelihood. Health care professionals need to quickly act and must have accurate information when it comes to symptoms, medical history, allergies or more. Additionally, rural area hospitals are particularly vulnerable. As of this writing, there is one certified medical interpreter in the entire state of California for the Hmong language. However, there are almost 35,000 Hmong that may struggle with English. Hospitals all over the country struggle to hire qualified bilingual staff to assist with translations in addition to their main responsibilities. This is why there is a great demand for medical interpreters.
You must gain specialization in this area to success as a medical interpreter. It’s a must to have a grasp of medical jargon in order to properly communicate the symptoms, conditions, medications and allergies of a patient.

  1. The Legal Profession Needs Language Services

There is a growing demand in the legal and judicial professions for interpretations services.
Did you know that there are more than 350 non-English languages spoken in American homes, according the the 2015 CensusIn the majority of major metropolitan areas, there are at minimum 125 various non-English languages spoken in the home. Much like the healthcare field, courts are required by law to offer languages services for those who may struggle with the English language. There is such a massive shortage of qualified interpreters that cases wind up being tossed, or reviews wind up being significantly delayed. There are more than 7 million individuals in California who don’t speak English well. To service that population, there are a mere 2,000 court interpreters.
This is only one example of why there is a large need for qualified and specialized interpreters to overcome language barriers in the legal field.

  1. Entertainment, In Your Own Language

Entertainment can and should be accessible to all thanks to interpretation services. In fact, sign language interpreters are now a mainstay at concerts. Some have even developed their own following! Sign language interpreters at hip hop shows are never not fun. There are more than 15,000 live entertainment venues across the nation who host events year-round. Every performance should be made accessible to more people with the addition of a sign language interpreter. Concerts, theater, magic shows and more. The opportunities don’t end there. In the global world of today, interpretation services may be needed for broadcast interviews, a CEO in the U.S. might be making remote presentations or hosting Q&As with far away lands or an scientist in Israel may need to present their findings to the world. Conferences and conventions are another part of this segment. In 2018, 250+ million individuals attended conferences in the U.S, and that number is expected to grow. Many of those attendees need an interpretation service to maximize the benefits of the conferences.

  1. Business, Finance, and Banking Depend on Communication

As we’ve mentioned, we live in a global economy. It’s inescapable in the business world. Negotiations that cross borders and languages are commonplace. Language services can benefit these situations, whether it be in-person, by video or via teleconference. Like other fields, the world of business requires interpreters with a particular set of skills (you might say businesses would be taken with such a skill set).

For example, Cyprus, a small country in the Mediterranean Sea, must handle oil and natural gas exploration negotiations in six languages (Greek, Turkish, English, Russian, Hebrew and Korean). Those interpreters with the specialization to thrive in the world of banking and capital markets may find bigger opportunities in tax havens such as Switzerland. While we’re on the topic of banking and translations, in 2009 HSBC Bank had to undergo a $10 million rebrand thanks to a translation fail. Their tagline “Assume Nothing” was mistranslated to “Do Nothing” in several countries.

  1. Interpretation Services for the Travel Industry

The travel and tourism industry has been incredible growth in recent years. Additionally, one in 10 jobs across the globe are in this sector. A number that is expected to grow. That number pales in comparison to the travelers they are servicing. In 2015, more than one billion travelers ventured outside their home country. That number is projected to grow 4-5% year over year. These numbers are hard to ignore. Interpretation services will be required for travelers to book reservations and traverse a foreign land.

  1. Communication Is Compulsory for Government Services and Public Schools

In 2017 as Hurricane Irma neared, emergency officials in Manatee County, Florida hired a lifeguard as a sign language interpreter to provide evacuation warnings to the deaf community. This caused confusion in the community as he signed warnings for “bears,” “monsters” and “pizza.” This may sound silly, but there are essential communications and interactions that a local government or community may need to have with their people. In these cases, professional interpreter services are vital to ensure everyone can comprehend what is going on. There are laws at every level of government that dictate an interpreter be provided for certain communications. Additionally, there is a need in public schools for classes to met the needs of students and parents who speak non-English languages or who are deaf. The U.S. faces an incredible shortage of qualified ASL interpreters, despite programs to recruit and train in this area. 
Once again, if you’re qualified for these roles, you’re sure to find plenty of work in this space.

  1. The Insurance Industry is critically dependent upon linguistic accuracy

The number of individuals who need insurance is not equal to those who need insurance that speak English. There are interpretation service jobs to be filled in the insurance industry. Whether it be for health, home, auto, workers’ compensation or more, accuracy is essential. For tasks such as risk analysis, insurance agents may conduct in-person interviews to access the situation. Accurate information is critical to to a company’s bottom line. Also, for instances such as accident claims or property theft, an interpreter service must be able to navigate the detailed fact-finding process and even non-English speaking witness interviews.
Like every sector, an interpretation service with specialization in this field will find ample opportunities.

It’s not just in our largest cities that you’ll hear multiple languages being spoken as you move about your day. Whether it’s in the world of health care, entertainment or business, interpretation services deliver connection, collaboration and accessibility to all involved. The need for interpreters is only going to increase. Seeking a specialization in one of the many sectors in need will benefit you and that industry. 


Is there an industry that you feel we didn’t properly represent? Make your case in the comments below!

Hi all!

Boostlingo will join the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the Association of Language Companies (ALC) on August 8, 2018 in Washington DC for the ALC DC Leaders Forum.
The forum was created to bring leaders in the language industry to Washington, D.C. to:

  • Learn about federal policy and regulatory issues facing the industry and what is being done to address them.
  • Meet with members of Congress and Executive Branch agencies with jurisdiction over relevant issues.
  • Network with fellow industry leaders to strategize solutions to shared concerns.

One of the main issues to be addressed is the Independent Contractor Classification issue which has a profound effect on our industry. The language industry has traditionally relied on a professional workforce that is comprised of both freelance contractors and regular employees. The Leaders Forum hopes to raise awareness with policymakers of the important issues surrounding reclassification and its direct impact on the language industry. The Leaders Forum hopes to successfully advocate for sensible and informed legislation around this rapidly developing issue.

Boostlingo Co-Founder and VP of Marketing and Business Development, Dieter Runge will be travelling to DC to join in the conversation.

If you are a language services agency, language technology company or freelance interpreter and would like to share your insight or opinion on this particular issue or other concerns, please email Dieter directly who will be happy to take the message forward to Washington.
Please email him at [email protected]