MONTEREY, Calif., Feb. 23 /PRNewswire/ — The weak economy has not stalled the demand for language services that help businesses and organizations communicate with their limited-English speaking customers, according to a recent report by Language Line Services. 2009 year-end results from Language Line(R) LanguageTrak, the company’s proprietary service which provides real-time demographic information on language trends, revealed triple-digit spikes in language interpreter requests for 20 major U.S. cities, and a thousand percent year-to-year increase in demand for emerging languages such as Nepali, Kirundi and Cantonese.

GEOGRAPHY MATTERS

While New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston continue to lead the country in overall demand for interpretation services, according to LanguageTrak, Baltimore experienced the greatest increase (3,025 percent) in demand for foreign language interpretation in 2009 over the previous year.  Other American cities that showed substantial increases in demand over the same period were Fort Worth, Memphis, Detroit, Jacksonville, San Antonio, Austin and Indianapolis (http://www.languageline.com/top20).

LANGUAGE TRENDS

The United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates demand will remain strong for translators in Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish, Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages, and the principal Asian languages – Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

In addition to these, LanguageTrak data reveals greater than a thousand percent year-to-year increase in demand for Cantonese, Nepali, and Kirundi within certain cities. Other languages with significant demand increases include Arabic, Burmese, Vietnamese, Hmong, Karen, Somali, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, Russian, Laotian, Swahili, and Tagalog, among others (http://www.languageline.com/top20).

PROFESSIONAL INTERPRETERS IN DEMAND

This increase in demand for foreign languages also signals a very positive job outlook for professional interpreters and translators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, employment for interpreters and translators is expected to grow by 22 percent over the 2008-18 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is predicted to be driven partly by strong demand in educational and health care settings and work related to homeland security. Additionally, the broadening of international ties and the increase in the number of foreign language speakers in the United States are trends expected to continue and contribute to relatively rapid growth of jobs for language professionals.

FOCUS ON COMMUNICATION – NOT COST-CUTTING

“While most businesses are cutting costs due to the economy, many continue to devote resources to communicating effectively with English speaking, and limited-English speaking customers, alike,” said Louis Provenzano, Language Line Services’ President and Chief Operating Officer.

“Focusing on language services – verbal interpretation and written document translation – has become an increasingly popular way for smart companies to serve current customers, attract new ones, and differentiate themselves from their competitors. These spikes in demand identified by LanguageTrak provide proof that our society and economy are increasingly multilingual. Organizations that recognize these changes, and act on them before others do, will ultimately lead their industries,” Provenzano said.

REAL-TIME, CUSTOMIZED ALERTS

Subscribers to Language Line(R) LanguageTrak, including governmental agencies, hospitals, utilities, banks and other business service providers, will receive alerts whenever the volume of interpretation requests for a specific language shows spikes in their local-coverage areas.

For example, through LanguageTrak alerts, a local community bank learns of two new, emerging languages – Somali and Vietnamese – being spoken in their branch offices’ neighborhoods. With this real-time information, the bank’s management has a jumpstart in arranging for bilingual employees and/or live interpreters of those languages, as well as preparing translated signage, brochures, application forms and other types of support for their new limited-English speaking customers