Free Phone Interpreters Available in NYC

Monterrey, Calif.-based Language Line this week launched Your World. Your Language, a toll-free telephone-based interpreter service that gives limited English speaking residents, foreign business travelers, and tourists throughout New York access to a host of commercial, retail, and entertainment businesses. The service was simultaneously launched in other major U.S. metro areas, including Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, and is expected to be available nationwide later this year.

The service, which is available by calling (888) 855-0811, or (888) TU-LINEA for Spanish speakers, was created by Language Line Services and uses a network powered by AT&T. It resides on an Avaya platform and works with any landline, mobile, or Voice over IP phone.

The system currently supports nine languages: Spanish, Polish, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog (Filipino). Callers are guided through a series of prompts to select their language, geographic area, and type of business or service they would like to contact. An interpreter for the language selected then gets on the line and acts as a translator during the interaction, which typically involves an English-language call center operator.

With the service, recent immigrants can, for example, make arrangements for cable TV or phone service or access vital community services, while tourists can buy Broadway tickets or arrange for shuttle bus service to and from the airport.

"A lot of U.S. companies provide support in Spanish for their own call centers, but don't do a lot for other languages," says Greg Marshall, general markets manager at Language Line. "Our goal is to be the one-stop shop for directory assistance services for people with limited English proficiency."

In a statement, Louis Provenzano, Language Line Services president and chief operating officer, noted that New York has many densely populated immigrant neighborhoods where only limited English is needed to survive. As a result, these consumers have difficulty conducting business outside their neighborhoods and accessing vital community services without the assistance of English-speaking friends and family members.

"Applying for business financing can be challenging for someone speaking in their first language, so its easy to see how this process could be intimidating for a new Chinese immigrant hoping to capitalize on the American dream of business ownership," Provenzano said in the statement.

Businesses affiliated with the service also benefit. "Its a very cost-effective service for a company to tie into from a lead-generation standpoint," Marshall says."On the business side, it enables a company to expand its multilingual options and bring new clients to their services."


47.6 Percent of New York residents who speak a language other than English at home(U.S. Census)
35.9 Percent of foreign born New York residents
176 Total number of languages spoken in the U.S.
75 Percent of limited-English speakers who prefer to speak in their native language (In-Language Preference Census)

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