Virginia Struggles with Translation Resources

Though over sixty different languages are spoken in Virginia’s Peninsula region, the majority of the population speaks English and Spanish. The Spanish-speaking community members find it difficult to obtain adequate English to Spanish translations for everyday needs.

Because of the region’s high non-English speaking population, the translation services are spread thinly, and schools, courts, and hospitals are feeling the loss most severely.

15 Percent of Virginia Residents Don’t Speak English

Local Virginia police, as well as fire stations, hospitals, and school staff, help the community with its translation issues, but there is a lack of professional translators that can provide official Spanish translation as well as translation for the plethora of different languages across the region. It’s gotten to the point where there are so many different languages being spoken in Virginia that not all of them can be identified by the hospitals, schools, or legal systems in the area.

Many of the frequently used languages have been recorded so that forms can be translated from English, but many people still have trouble identifying some of the lesser spoken languages, like Lothian or Twi. Most of the hospitals, schools, and courts in the area have a list of the 20 most commonly spoken languages, but people also encounter one they can’t identify regularly.

Mostly, places like the local hospitals and school districts use unofficial translators to help out with the day-to-day translation. Local churches and congregations from the region have also been helpful with providing Spanish to English translation for the locals and vice versa. There are several refugee programs in the Peninsula region as well. They provide immersion classes for non-English speakers and also help settle refugees into the community.

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High Refugee Population

The area has such a high number of foreign language speakers for several reasons. One is that the area attracts people for jobs and education, and another is because there is already family settled in the area. Another reason is that the area has such a large number of refugees fleeing from their homelands.

The charities in the area help more than 200 refugees find work and housing every year, in addition to providing language help. The Commonwealth Catholic Charities’ refugee settlement program is the largest group that helps settle refugees, but local churches also partner with the charities.

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