Health Literacy for
Non-Native English Speakers
It is well-documented that
non-native English speakers have
lower levels of health literacy,
which in turn puts them at greater
risk of serious health problems.
This not only creates health
disparities but can also place a
financial burden on society.
Populations with low health
literacy experience more hospital
visits, longer hospital stays, and
higher health care costs.
Those with limited English proficiency
are less likely to visit health care
facilities for treatment or
They are more likely to be
non-compliant with medications
and are more frequently
dissatisfied in their relationship
with healthcare providers.
As expected, they have
difficulty understanding information
from health education campaigns
and programs intended
for the general public.
While limited language proficiency
is a major factor in poor health literacy,
there are other variables that can
compromise this knowledge.
Language and communication skills
can clearly influence health literacy,
but so can socioeconomic status,
cultural background and biases,
and past experienced with
health care providers and systems.
Since communication, cultural norms
and health are closely linked, providing
a health literacy program for limited
English speakers using English as a
Second Language (ESL) approach is an
effective method of increasing
health literacy while improving
English proficiency, understanding
cultural differences and gaining
How TEACH is Helping
TEACH is currently developing a
health literacy program that
classroom experience with one-on-one
tutoringto focus on each student’s
unique health issuesand those
of their families.
In addition, native English
speakers would be available to accompany
learners to health care appointments
not to translate but to ensure that
information is communicatedin a way
and at a language level appropriate
to the learner.