For Southern California Nurses


I dont know if this has been posted yet....

As a nurse im sure you are presented with people from all races and cultural backgrounds, and sometimes language barriers exist.

I am fluent in both english and spanish but i would definitely like to pick up another language. so i wanted some feedback in choosing a third language.

Got any ideas? thanks

I was leaning towards a language from asian countries of maybe tagalog.

I ask socal nurses because that is were i plan to work...

Specializes in Emergency, Trauma, Critical Care. Has 14 years experience.

Spanish will definitely be your most useful second language. As far as learning a third, it really varies by region even in southern California. Where I live spanish would be your main language to know, however, only half an hour west of where I live korean would probably be a good choice. I hope other nurses chime in.

allnurses Guide


7,058 Posts

Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty. Has 47 years experience.

Ya, alot does depend on your local community. Korean, Armenian, Russian and Tagalog would all be useful. Tagalog might be easiest with a Spanish background. The others you will have to learn characters and/or a different alphabet.

Best wishes!! You are ahead with 2 languages. I'm still working on my Spanish fluency.:)


38,333 Posts

And in some areas around LA, Armenian would be a good choice. It really depends.


87 Posts

That is a very hard question. Because you know the two main languages of this part of the region. Tagalog is good to know, but with so many filipina nurses you will have an interpreter everywhere and very few Filipinos that don't know English. One of my jobs I have two Russian patients and on Chinese patient, none of them know English. I think you really don't need to spend too much time learning the other languages for this region. I myself was born in Mexico and lived the majority of my life in the U.S. Spanish is helpful.

Rabid Response

309 Posts

Specializes in ICU/CCU. Has 5 years experience.

I wouldn't learn Tagalog, only because there is always a nurse around who speaks it. I think that half of the nurses on night shift in my hospital are from the Philippines. I would study Cantonese if I had to pick a language to learn for work. In CA there are a lot of Cantonese speaking patients, but it seems as if most of our Chinese nurses and even MDs speak Mandarin. I have an iPhone ap with Cantonese medical phrases, and I sometimes use it in a pinch.


13 Posts

Specializes in Women's Health.

I live in San Diego and we have a large Middle Eastern Community in our area. I have had to call the Arabic translator many times to get assistance. In addition to the learning a new language, I think it would be neat to learn cultures and customs from that country too. There are so many little things that we can do as nurses to uplift the patient experience by providin culturally competent care.


408 Posts

Yea... I agree. Arabic language is a PLUS! If the nursing thing doesn't work out -- then you can always go work for the FBI or CIA. They want people who can speak Arabic. The thing is, the language itself is harder to learn and the writing, compared to other languages. Still, it's kinda cool to carry a gun and have a license to shoot people! (This is why I like CSI and cop shows lol) and having a title ---> "Agent" right next to your name is just as cool, eh? lol.


221 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Home Health, Hospice. Has 16 years experience.

As the other posters are saying, Depending on where you wish to work will depend on the language you should learn. In addition to learning the language you need to become familiar with their customs and become familiar with Religious Customs. Some, no meat, no red meat, no pork, no blood transfusions....

just from my experience! good luck. Happy learning.


21 Posts

If you are planning to live in san diego, arabic would be a very good second language to learn...


63 Posts

For LA, Farsi would be good. However, most who speak Farsi also speak English. Better in central LA. Korean or Armenian would be my second choice. I lived in LA several years, and these were the languages, aside from Spanish everyone seemed to speak.


17 Posts

i agree with freeflowchi, Farsi is dominant in Los angeles. In everly hills they make the persian new year "nowrooz" a holiday. in school the calendar states "national holiday". there is a very large farsi speaking group in LA from what ive found out.