Limited English proficiency

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Limited English proficiency (LEP) is a term used in the United States that refers to a person who is not fluent in the English language, often because it is not their native language. Both LEP and English-language learner (ELL) are terms used by the Office for Civil Rights, a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Education.

According to data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) data, LEP individuals accounted for 9% of the U.S. population over the age of five.[1]

The definition of "limited English proficiency" varies between states and within state districts.[2]

History[edit]

The term "limited English proficiency"—together with the initialism "LEP"—was first used in 1975 following the U.S. Supreme Court decision Lau v. Nichols. ELL (English Language Learner), used by United States governments and school systems, was created by James Crawford of the Institute for Language and Education Policy in an effort to label learners positively, rather than ascribing a deficiency to them. Recently, some educators have shortened this to EL – English Learner.

On August 11, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13166, "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency." The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with limited English proficiency, and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them.[3]

The Virginia Department of Education has created a guidebook titled, Limited English Proficient Students: Guidelines for Participation in the Virginia Assessment Program.[4] The guidebook is intended to determine how Limited English Proficient (LEP) students should participate in the Standards of Learning testing.

Healthcare consequences[edit]

Limited English proficiency is associated with poorer health outcomes among Latinos, Asian Americans, and other ethnic minorities in the United States.[5]

Studies have found that women with LEP disproportionately fail to follow up on abnormal mammogram results, which may lead to increases in delayed diagnosis.[6]

Medical interpreter[edit]

A physician assistant with the Utah State Medical Command, Utah Army National Guard, speaks to an interpreter while working at a humanitarian civic assistance.

Less than half of non-English speakers who say they need an interpreter during clinical visits report having one. The absence of interpreters during a clinical visit adds to the communication barrier. Furthermore, inability of providers to communicate with limited English proficient patients leads to more diagnostic procedures, more invasive procedures, and over prescribing of medications.[7] Many health-related settings provide interpreter services for their limited English proficient patients. This has been helpful when providers do not speak the same language as the patient. However, there is mounting evidence that patients need to communicate with a language concordant physician (not simply an interpreter) to receive the best medical care, bond with the physician, and be satisfied with the care experience.[8][9] Having patient-physician language discordant pairs (i.e. Spanish-speaking patient with an English-speaking physician) may also lead to greater medical expenditures and thus higher costs to the organization.[10] Additional communication problems result from a decrease or lack of cultural competence by providers. It is important for providers to be cognizant of patients’ health beliefs and practices without being judgmental or reacting. Understanding a patients’ view of health and disease is important for diagnosis and treatment. So providers need to assess patients’ health beliefs and practices to improve quality of care.[11]

Asian Americans[edit]

One-third of the total population of Asian Americans is of limited English proficiency.[12] Many Asian Americans are uncomfortable with communicating with their physician, leading to a gap in healthcare access and reporting. Even persons comfortable with using English may have trouble identifying or describing different symptoms, medications, or diseases.[13] Cultural barriers prevent proper health care access. Many Asian Americans only visit the doctor if there are visible symptoms. In other words, preventive care is not a cultural norm. Also, Asian Americans were more likely than white respondents to say that their doctor did not understand their background and values. White respondents were more likely to agree that doctors listened to everything they had to say, compared with Asian American patients.[14] Lastly, many beliefs bar access to proper medical care. For example, many believe that blood is not replenished, and are therefore reluctant to have their blood drawn.[15]

Education consequences[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Limited English Proficiency Individuals in the United States: Number, Share, Growth, and Linguistic Diversity". Migration Policy Institute. December 2011. 
  2. ^ Abedi, Jamal. "The No Child Left Behind Act and English Language Learners: Assessment and Accountability Issues" (PDF). Oregon Department of Education. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Executive Order 13166. Retrieved on 2008-12-11
  4. ^ "Limited English Proficient Students: Guidelines for Participation in the Virginia Assessment Program" (PDF). Virginia Department of Education. 
  5. ^ Sentell, Tetine; Braun, Kathryn L. (2012). "Low Health Literacy, Limited English Proficiency, and Health Status in Asians, Latinos, and Other Racial/Ethnic Groups in California". Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives. 17 (3). doi:10.1080/10810730.2012.712621. 
  6. ^ Marcus, Erin, et al. "How Do Breast Imaging Centers Communicate Results To Women With Limited English Proficiency And Other Barriers To Care?." Journal Of Immigrant & Minority Health 16.3 (2014): 401-408. Web. 25 July 2014.
  7. ^ Ku, L.; Flores, G. (Mar–Apr 2005). "Pay Now or Pay Later: Providing Interpreter Services in Health Care". health Affair. 24 (2): 435–444. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.24.2.435. 
  8. ^ Fernandez; et al. (Feb 2004). "Physician Language Ability and Cultural Competence". Journal of General Internal Medicine. 19 (2): 167–174. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30266.x. 
  9. ^ Flores; et al. (Jan 2003). "Errors in Medical Interpretation and their Potential Clinical Consequences in Pediatric Encounters". Pediatrics. 111 (1): 6–14. doi:10.1542/peds.111.1.6. 
  10. ^ Hamers; McNulty (Nov 2002). "Professional Interpreters and Bilingual Physicians in a Pediatric Emergency Department". Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 156 (11): 1108–1113. 
  11. ^ Kleinman, A.; Eisenberg, L.; et al. (1978). "Culture, Illness and Care: Clinical Lessons for Anthropologic and Cross Culture Research". Annals of Internal Medicine. 88 (2): 251–258. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-88-2-251. 
  12. ^ Health Inequities in the Asian American Community (PDF). Asian American Justice Center. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  13. ^ Kim W, Keefe RH (May 2010). "Barriers to healthcare among Asian Americans". Soc Work Public Health. 25 (3): 286–95. PMID 20446176. doi:10.1080/19371910903240704. 
  14. ^ Ngo-Metzger, Quyen; Legedza, Anna T. R.; Phillips, Russell S. (2004). "Asian Americans’ reports of their health care experiences". Journal of General Internal Medicine. 19 (2): 111–119. ISSN 0884-8734. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30143.x. 
  15. ^ LaVonne Wieland; Judyann Bigby; American College of Physicians--American Society of Internal Medicine; Barry Grumbiner; Lynn Kuehn (2001). Cross-Cultural Medicine. Philadelphia, Pa: American College of Physicians. ISBN 1-930513-02-X. 

External links[edit]