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Posted on 07.26.2011

Communicating Your Message to Non-English Speakers

The number of Spanish-speaking people in this country continues to increase. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 34 million U.S. residents speak Spanish, making it our nation’s second language. But, Spanish isn’t the only language on the rise. The Census noted that more than 10 million U.S. residents speak Indo-European languages other than Spanish, and more than eight million residents speak Asian and Pacific Island languages. I have taken seven years of Spanish classes, and I am very passionate about the language and the culture.  However, at times I still find it difficult to adequately communicate with Spanish speakers as well as those who speak other languages. Part of my job in public relations is to help people communicate effectively. Since there is no doubt that the number of people who speak languages other than English in the United States will continue to rise, I thought I would share a few devices and tips that have helped me communicate with non-English speakers. Since a live translator will not always be available when you need to communicate with a non-English speaker, investing in a digital translator isn’t a bad idea. There are a variety of digital translators on the market; you can find several at Amazon.com, such as the Nyrius LT12 12- Language Speaking Global Translator, or you can download a translator like Google Translate for iPhone to your Smartphone or tablet. I would recommend purchasing a digital translator or a digital translator application for your Smartphone or tablet instead of using a free translator on a website, because digital translators tend to be more accurate. If you do not communicate with non-English speakers often enough to purchase a digital translator or Smartphone application, learning even a few key words in another language may be beneficial for yourself and those around you. Paying attention to body language is another way to communicate with those who may not speak your native tongue. Emotions and intentions can often be picked up through body language. In order to communicate effectively, it is also helpful to remember that communicating with someone who speaks a different language requires patience. And, a smile is universal. Have you had any experiences communicating with someone who speaks another language? What devices or tricks did you find helpful to effectively communicate with non-English speakers?  

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