Integrating Academia and the Multi-Cultural Community: Walking the Talk
In the United States, there is a largely-unanswered but constant call from the business, law, medical and volunteer communities for translators, interpreters, and generally-bilingual workers of all sorts. Both anecdotally and via studies, this is a national phenomenon, especially notable in Houston. Job opportunities and pay scale can have much to do with language capabilities due to the enormous populations which are, if not monolingual and not in English, at least uncomfortable with English in formal, serious (read medical or business or government) situations. Job applicants with job-related skills sometimes have some heritage oral language skills, but not formal training in using the language. Job applicants with formal language-use training frequently do not have the job-related skills. Named one of 27 "cutting-edge" departments in the U.S. in 2001 for the program, the department of Modern and Classical Languages of the University of St. Thomas/Houston is aggressively addressing both the job crises of the multi-cultural community (and the population crisis of the Department itself) via a series of innovative programs combining language acquisition with professional applications.
Keywords: Language Education, Bilingual Education, Practical Applications of Language
Dr. Debra Diane Andrist
Cullen Professor of Spanish, Modern and Classical Languages, University of St. Thomas