Y Offers Language Training for Professional Situations


    By Diana Douglas

    Debbie Jones is living proof that life is not over when a career is cut short.

    “I took life”s lemons and made language lemonade,” said Jones referring to Spanish in a pinch.

    Spanish in a pinch is a progressive way of learning Spanish. Jones created cheat sheets in 25 different industries. These sheets contain words that are used by everyday people in a working environment.

    “We created the cheat sheets so people can be bilingual in a pinch in their profession,” Jones said. “We teach trade specific Spanish and keep it very simple so that people can get jobs done faster, more efficiently and with higher safety.”

    BYU is currently the only school that offers a trade specific Spanish class.

    The faculty of construction management meets and discusses the needs of the students each year. They offer classes tailored to those needs and the latest trends of the industry.

    It came to their attention a couple of years ago that approximately 90 percent of the laborers in construction management were Spanish speaking.

    James Fenn, a professor in the construction management department, developed an entire university course based around Jones” system.

    “We do not teach conversational Spanish. Instead we teach how to get by with Spanish employees,” Fenn said.

    Jones stated how this class is under a lot of scrutiny by the language department. She acknowledges that her system does not teach perfect Spanish but takes a practical approach to learning the language.

    “The class, though not conversational, teaches words that are needed for basic communication in the construction industry. These words can be used to check the quality of the work and to ensure the safety of those working,” said Kevin Miller, associate professor in the School of Technology.

    Jones is teaching the course this semester and hopes to expand her class into other fields within BYU.

    “We want to implement Spanish in a pinch in the nursing, dental and law programs,” Jones said.

    BYU is at an advantage because many students are bilingual. Even though they might not speak Spanish, it is easier for these students to pick up a different language because they already have the necessary language skills, Jones said.

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