UA Little Rock certificate program in workplace Spanish helps meet demand for bilingual workers

Hola! Arkansas

Little Rock, AR

 

With a growing need for bilingual workers in the workforce, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has a certificate in workplace Spanish that enables workers to gain the language skills needed to engage Spanish speakers on the job.

“We developed the certificate with students from other disciplines in mind so that the certificate would help students in whatever profession they decide to pursue,” said Dr. Andrew Deiser, interim chair of the Department of World Languages. “It’s also for people in the community who want to gain an intermediate level of Spanish to use in their workplaces. They can have the certificate to show their employer that they have gained these language skills.”

The certificate, which began in 2016, is designed for working professionals who are looking to build a strong foundation in the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures, but may not have enough time to complete a degree. The certificate program is also a good fit for UA Little Rock students in academic programs that do not have enough flexible hours to complete a second major or minor in Spanish.

“It’s attractive to students from a variety of disciplines. They can complete the certificate in just 15 hours, rather than a minor that is 18-21 hours,” Deiser said. “It’s attractive to professionals who may not want to earn a whole degree or even a minor, but who can come out with an intermediate level of Spanish-speaking ability to use in their careers. Not only are students gaining proficiency in Spanish, but we are also teaching them about Hispanic culture. Students are acquiring language skills as well as cultural competence.”

The 15-hour certificate in the Department of World Languages can be taken completely online. Traditional face-to-face classes are also available. Students who can demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency in Spanish can enter the certificate program without taking Intermediate Spanish 1 and 2.

The certificate program is a popular choice among healthcare professionals, remarked Deiser, who recalled that many nurses are entering the program so they can better communicate with Spanish-speaking patients. Students and professionals working in law, business, and criminal justice fields also find the certificate helpful.

Research published in March 2017 by “New American Economy” shows that the demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled, with about 240,000 job postings aimed at bilingual workers in 2010 increasing to 630,000 postings in 2015.

Lucee Lugo, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, is joining the certificate program in the fall to gain greater proficiency in the Spanish language.

“I work as a patient care technician at Baptist Health, so speaking Spanish well is an asset. Having experience dealing with a second language is something that employers look for and can put you over the top when applying for a job. Since it’s only 15 credit hours, it’s a great chance to go ahead and get a certificate that will be of great value in the future.”

Lugo, whose father is from Puerto Rico, said learning more Spanish will also help her connect with her Hispanic roots and the Hispanic community in her hometown of De Queen, Arkansas.

“My dad is a pastor of a Hispanic church, and De Queen has a large Hispanic population,” she said. “Growing up, the Hispanic culture is something I really love. My dad is fluent, but I did not grow up speaking Spanish, so it gives me a chance to learn about my own culture.”

For more information about the certificate in workplace Spanish, contact Dr. Deiser at 501-569-8158 or ajdeiser@ualr.edu.

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