LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — No matter what profession you work in, being bilingual can help you communicate with more people— but learning another language can sometimes be difficult.
That's why the Little Rock Police Department and the University of Arkansas Little Rock have been working to make sure the Spanish language can be mastered by anyone.
Edma Delgado, Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Arkansas Little Rock has seen firsthand how quickly the Hispanic community in the city has been growing.
“I think I remember being in high school in Springdale, Springdale high school, and being, you know, one of 50 students back in the 90s,” said Delgado.
Delgado teaches the university's workplace Spanish certificate program.
“This program was designed to give students and working adults an opportunity to get a credential to test their proficiency in Spanish that they can use in the workplace,” explained Delgado.
Delgado also added that people from different professions have joined the program to help Spanish-speaking residents feel seen.
“We have a lot of medical professionals who come and take our certificate of workplace Spanish, who are already in the field and have decided, oh, we need Spanish,” said Delgado.
A few weeks ago, the Little Rock Police Department created its own class.
“It's a multiple week class, different curriculums, part of it, one of our lieutenants is taking the approach to try to train officers,” said Officer Eric Barnes.
The thing that separates that class from others, is that people from the Hispanic community have gathered there to lend a helping hand.
“Do breakout sessions and have vocabulary, different stuff that is different from the English language and then they do scenarios,” said Barnes.
The police department's Spanish language initiative dates to 2018, and since then, the department has worked to recruit more bilingual officers.
“We have around 19 officers that are currently with our department that are bilingual and obviously there's a recruitment effort with that,” said Barnes.
Since the class was created, it will allow more officers to make sure there are no language barriers when serving the community.
“We have these 15 officers that are going through that may not know any Spanish, now they know a little bit to get by, and that will help if they're on another call with an officer that wasn't in this class,” said Barnes.