Although outsiders may think the population of Michigan is homogenous, that’s not the case. Michigan is a diverse state, ethnically, racially and linguistically speaking. Michigan’s population topped 10 million in the 2020 census, numbering 10,077,331 inhabitants. Michigan’s diversity is measured in thousands.
Since its population has been approaching 10 million residents for years, Michigan is one of the larger states in the U.S. by population. Large slices of the population have diverse backgrounds. A Michigander can look and speak in a variety of ways. The most popular countries of origin for foreign-born residents were: Mexico, India, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. Out of every 100 Michigan residents, six were born outside the U.S.
According to the 2020 Census, those with Hispanic or Latino ethnicity made up 5.6% of Michigan’s population. People who had some Asian ancestry comprised 4.1% of the population. Almost 5% of the population identified as having some other race besides African American, Asian and Pacific Islander.
Linguistic Diversity in Michigan
The most common language besides English is Spanish, spoken by 2.9% of the population. Almost 165,000 people speak Arabic in Michigan. Between Mandarin and Cantonese, over 46,000 people speak Chinese. Reaching speakers of these languages isn’t as difficult as it seems. However, a common mistake in trying to reach them can prove costly.
While the pool of bilingual employees with field-specific vocabularies, like for medical or emergency services, may be large in very diverse places like New York, Texas, California or D.C., that is not always the case in Michigan. Relying on bilingual employees for languages like Spanish is a commonly thought of quick fix. However, the line of thinking that bilingual employees are a wiser and cheaper choice than hiring language services is not always the reality. The fact that someone is bilingual doesn’t make them qualified to interpret or translate. They may not have the linguistic skill or vocabulary in both languages. Likewise, they might lack the cultural foundation or knowledge of ethical considerations to properly convert language in high-risk or specialty fields.
For fields containing specific terminology and jargon, like medical, legal or finance, the risks of potential errors are high and costly. Language-access services can ensure an organization is prepared to field those whose first language is not English and the deaf or hard-of-hearing. With a little proactivity on the organization’s part, they can receive the same treatment as an English speaker. It’s important to contract language services, even for common languages like Spanish.
Industries Benefiting from Language Services in Michigan
Many organizations and businesses in Michigan are preparing for a globalizing future by supporting Limited-English Proficient (LEP) and non-English-speaking residents with language services. Interpretation and Translation are the means by which businesses, healthcare entities and government agencies can expand their reach.
Language Services for Students
According to MI School Data, 6.38% of Michigan students are learning English as a foreign language. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, students must have an opportunity to learn, regardless of their first language. To avoid discrimination based on background in Michigan public schools, language services can be used to guarantee access to education for students and their families. They can also facilitate LEP students’ transitions in private schools in the same manner.
It’s true that children can often pick up a new language in school faster than adults in the community. That’s mostly because children are constantly learning anyway and bring less ego to the endeavor. Language services are still vital for schools to have in order to conduct parent-teacher conferences and resolve other situations.
Language services can be accessed on-demand for sudden or emergent situations in Michigan’s schools or to reach a child’s family at home. Also convenient is the fact that language services are not a blanket expenditure. Schools can be billed only for the time that teachers and staff use language services. Language services don’t need to involve a retainer fee or a monthly minimum. Sensitive billing (in increments of seconds) can conserve precious funds for school budgets.
Although Michigan ranks in the top 25% (17th) in terms of access to healthcare, issues still exist in other aspects of healthcare. Ranking 42nd in terms of healthcare quality, and 39th in a measure of the overall health of the population, Michigan can target efforts to improve the quality of healthcare in one area: communication. It’s a seldom-explored facet of healthcare that can make a big difference in the overall health of the population.
A surprising portion of healthcare quality is determined by the quality of communication. When considering that an average clinician may have 150,000 discussions with patients during their career, the surprise fades. Governmental recognition of the importance of communication quality is evidenced by the HCAHPS survey of hospital admission quality. The survey captures communication quality. Hospitals’ reimbursement rates are calculated based on HCAHPS survey results. Preventable hospital admissions and hospital quality factor in.
Overall, who doesn’t want clear and consistent communication with their healthcare provider? Those who would prefer to speak their first language while receiving healthcare should have a right to do so. Language services that can be accessed on-demand accommodate the busy schedules of healthcare environments like hospitals, urgent care centers and pharmacies. On-demand services avoid booking hassles in less hectic but still dynamic settings such as outpatient clinics, general practices and allied health like physical therapy.
Emergency services are one specialty that benefits immensely from fast and precise language interpretations. Unfortunately, some criminals target LEP individuals because they perceive them as lacking in ability to react to hardships or attacks. All Michigan residents stay safer when anyone can report a crime, regardless of their language. Dynamic interpretations are indispensable to saving lives and thwarting crime. No one should perish or suffer additional hardship because of their linguistic heritage.
The over-the-phone (telephonic) mode of interpretation is particularly effective in quickly resolving emergencies. An interpreter skilled in language conversation and trained in emergent interpretation can be on the line in seconds to facilitate, deescalate and hopefully save the hour. When emergent services are fast and thorough, only the hour may need saved, not the whole day.
Michigan industries and businesses that are best prepared for a globalizing present and future will reap the benefits. Beyond manufacturing and natural resource-related commerce, service-based industries like tourism can benefit from increasing the agility of their services. With on-demand-language providers, developing international or multi-lingual services can expand your client base. That’s not to say that new services are necessary; development can take the form of delivering your normal offerings in speakers’ preferred language.
One advantage of pushing through to reach these clients is the expansive reach of a few connections. LEP individuals often remain in tight-knit families and communities. Some LEP individuals do not look up businesses in English, so one effort in the form of advertising or networking in their native language can go a long way. Word-of-mouth referrals matter more. Serving clients and customers who speak another language is easy once your business sets up a relationship with a language service provider.
Governments & Public Organizations
A map of Michigan may showcase over 40,000 square miles of water area, but that isn’t all that stands out. County lines carve out a whopping 83 counties. These are precise sections to be governed locally. Outside of Detroit, Lansing and Ann Arbor, and apart from areas where LEP populations are already concentrated, governments and public organizations should be prepared to serve diverse constituents. By establishing a plan and making connections for language services, constituents are better served. As a nation founded by immigrants that thrives on innovation and modernization, procuring fast, thorough and comprehensive language services is a logical step in the 21st century.
Language Services for the 21st Century
With agile modes of interpretation, proprietary software developed with decades of wisdom, and fast answer times, it’s no wonder companies are switching to Telelanguage. Proactive companies are choosing Telelanguage right out of the gate.
Spoken interpretation is available in different modes. This service is our forté. With over 6,000 interpreters, We don’t consider languages “rare.” We are the company best equipped to handle high-volume demand for the most common languages in Michigan. On a daily basis, Telelanguage provides interpretation services in the two most spoken languages: Arabic, and two types of Chinese: Mandarin and Cantonese. Many companies scramble to find such linguists, even with advanced notice. Others cannot handle these languages in high volumes.
Telephonic Interpretation – Lightening fast connections to telephonic interpreters make it a great on-demand option. The interpretation quality is still stellar. A telephone interpreter can navigate the conversations so seamlessly that they seem like an organization’s in-house interpreter. Telephonic interpretation shines in emergency situations and in rural Michigan.
Video Remote Interpretation – Nowadays, video remote interpretation offers a middle ground between telephonic and in-person interpretation. With video, facial expressions and gestures can be relayed along with spoken language. Telelanguage interpreters can also join a meeting hosted by a government or public organization, as an additional participant.
Translation is a written conversion of language, which is needed in many sectors in Michigan. Premium translations don’t need to carry exorbitant price tags. By choosing a robust company that operates in high volumes, customers enjoy reasonable pricing.
Cultural Awareness Training
By training employees, whether in a school, business, healthcare or governmental entity, you prepare for a globalizing future. Cultural awareness training helps employees navigate the communication and customs of LEP students, patients or clients. A small investment in cultural awareness training can help the entire organization better serve not just the cultures covered. Expanded cultural awareness enables people to be sensitive to elements of language, behavior and customs that can vary between cultures.
Director of Interpreter Service
Kaz has been in the language industry since 2005. An interpreter himself, he oversees all operations of the Virtual Interpretation Division (OPI/VRI) for Telelanguage Inc. His responsibilities include Recruitment, Staffing and Coverage Coordination, Quality Assurance, and supervision of over 6,000 contracted/employed interpreters. Additionally, he leads our interpreter certification program. Kaz matches the interpreters’ unique skill-sets to specific organizations and customers. He develops and implements recruitment strategies as well as talent retention plans to ensure access to the most qualified interpreters in over 350 languages.