Being bilingual is advantageous in many situations, and certainly so in the workplace. Not only are you likely to encounter someone whose primary language is not English at just about any job you work at, but being able to effectively communicate with that person will help them feel at ease and elevate your company’s standings in that person’s eyes.

One of the most beneficial languages to learn is Spanish. Health care professionals, human resources managers, law enforcement personnel, real estate agents, restaurant managers and many more occupations can all benefit immensely from Spanish classes. Construction, manufacturing and customer service industries also benefit greatly from having Spanish-speaking employees.

Other workforce development courses
  • Leadership/customer service
  • Computers
  • Heavy equipment operating
  • Electrical coding
  • Limited residential contractor licensing

“Having some base in the Spanish language is invaluable for customer service for a Spanish-speaking customer,” said Daniel Zink, manager of corporate training and continued education at Chattanooga State Community College. “I have found that customers that see a business making the effort to communicate with them are intensely loyal. I have also found this to be true with Spanish-speaking employees.”

An affordable and convenient way to learn conversational Spanish is through continuing education programs at local community colleges. At Chattanooga State Community College, Spanish for the Workforce is a 10-week continuing education course that meets only once a week. It’s one of three Spanish classes offered for either continuing education credits or college credit hours at Chattanooga State.

“We encourage and expect daily practice from the students, as learning and speaking a foreign language is a skill which needs to be practiced,” Zink said. “We employ various tools that make the daily practice fun and pertinent. We also try to have dinner once per week at a Mexican restaurant to practice our skills.”

Many employers will pay for continuing education classes for their employees, as the benefits to their business are obvious. The course costs about $600, which includes the book.

“The course makes an excellent Christmas present for employees if employers are looking to give an educational gift,” Zink said.

Spanish in the Workplace is offered in both the fall and spring terms, usually on Tuesday nights. Zink said that because the class only meets in person once per week, the out-of-class assignments can be intense but are easy to incorporate into daily life.

“For example, one of our assignments is to label your home with the Spanish words for objects,” Zink said. “When you walk by the object, you see the Spanish word and repeat it a few times. In this way, you gain vocabulary without spending any extra time.”

By the end of the course, most can converse in Spanish and get their point across to a Spanish-speaking person, as well as understand what a Spanish-speaking person is saying. Because the course is workforce-centered, the conversational interactions in the classroom promote industry-specific terminology.

“Most people will not become experts after the beginner class, but they will have a solid foundation,” Zink said.

Click here or call 423-697-3100 for further information on Spanish continuing education courses.

Patty Brown is the director of marketing at Chattanooga State Community College.

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