(Originally published Jan. 30, 2009.)
About 31 million U.S. residents age 5 and older speak Spanish at home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. SMU community members can reap the benefits of speaking and understanding the language through the University’s award-winning Spanish for the Workplace program, offered by Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE).
The class is designed as a refresher for those who have studied Spanish or for beginners who have never had any Spanish-language training, says Amy Heitzman, CAPE executive director in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. It also includes components on Latin American and Hispanic cultural norms, business customs and etiquette.
The 10-session course teaches not only grammar and vocabulary but a conversational approach, Heitzman says. Instructors focus on oral proficiency by getting students to speak Spanish in the classroom early and often.
“Students are often held back in learning a foreign language by their fear of making mistakes,” Heitzman says. “Speaking it is the best way to help them overcome that fear.”
Additionally, course materials including audio CDs and Internet tutorials allow for self-study at home or the office.
In creating the course, CAPE was responding to feedback as well as filling a need. “We have heard again and again that a class like this should be mandatory for everyone on campus,” Heitzman says.
“Spanish classes in general are some of our highest enrollments, and our students were looking for more and different class experiences,” she adds. “We want to make others welcome, and we want to be able to speak to each other as well as prospective students in their own language.”
The class has also become an effective resource for business and nonprofit organizations throughout the Metroplex. A Spanish for the Workplace onsite program created in partnership with international law firm Thompson & Knight, LLP, won a 2007 “Your Honor Award” from the Legal Marketing Association. The honor recognizes “creativity, execution, achievement and overall excellence in legal marketing” and is the only award of its kind in the industry.
The next Spanish for the Workplace session begins Mar. 16, 2009 on SMU’s main campus. All materials are included in the $215 course fee. Register online or contact Continuing and Professional Education at 214-768-2273 (214-SMU-CAPE).