Health Literacy

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 
preventative care. 
   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 
self-advocacy skills.

How TEACH is Helping 
    TEACH is currently developing a 
health literacy program that 
combines culturally-sensitive 
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.