As a rising number of careers now prefer, and often require, the ability to speak multiple languages, more community colleges are integrating career-based language programs for students. These programs are designed to teach students the necessary skills and abilities to communicate and compete in the global workforce after graduation.
Community Colleges: Foreign Language Programs and Career Preparation
The Focus of Foreign Language Studies
Foreign language studies incorporate a variety of elements, skills, and disciplines of various modes of communication. As Yakima Valley Community College, located in Washington, supports, “all courses emphasize oral language acquisition. The primary goals are to have students speak and understand the spoken language.”
Most community colleges, such as Yakima, additionally include courses in conversational practices, as well as a diverse mix of academic classes with various focus topics. In addition to teaching students the language, Yakima also teaches students about a language’s cultural history and social background. As students embark on the cultural studies of their language, opportunities for internships, studying abroad, and other interactive programs are highly rated and recommended.
Located in Durham, North Carolina, Durham Technical Community College is another institution providing students with extensive foreign language courses to provide support for potential careers. Durham offers courses in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Arapahoe Community College, located in Littleton Colorado, is one of the many community colleges offering a wide variety of language courses to prepare students for potential career avenues. Currently, Arapahoe offers courses in American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Latin and Spanish.
Arapahoe’s foreign language courses are designed with the global market in mind: “The Purpose of the Foreign Language Department is to provide a learning centered environment where students can acquire or pursue successfully their foreign language education and […] to evaluate their ability to communicate in authentic situations for real-world communication within an international environment.”
Potential Career Demands for Community College Students
Spanish-English Bilingual Employees
According to statistics from the US Bureau of the Census, there is a steady rise in the number of bilingual and Spanish speaking individuals across the country.
Tampa Bay Florida, for example, is one of the many cities in the US that is facing a high demand for Spanish-English speaking workers. As the Tampa News reveals, “In 2000, of the 23 percent of Tampa residents who speak a language other than English in the home, 18 percent speak Spanish.” Of those surveyed, over 23,000 residents admitted to not being able to speak English very well. As a result, Tampa and a large number of cities across the country are in high need of Spanish and English speaking employees to help alleviate any potential communication and language barriers in the community.
As the Tampa Bay News further explains, “job applicants who are bilingual are very much in demand […] the ability to fluently speak both English and Spanish is certainly an advantage for most job applicants.”
Departments, such as a nearby Sheriff’s Office and local hospital, are two particular sectors that constantly require Spanish-speaking staff members. As Detective Rick Lewis of the greater Tampa Bay area states: “‘We are continually looking for bilingual employees […] It is very important for us to have sworn personnel who are bilingual, but also we have numerous civilian personnel with the sheriff's office where we benefit greatly if the employees are bilingual.’”
Considering that community colleges excel in healthcare and public safety programs, also strengthening your language skills can truly open career doors upon graduation.
Japanese-English Bilingual Employees
As Japanese-based companies, such as Nissan and Honda, are growing in popularity in the United States, the global job market is expanding. Today, individuals who are able to speak both Japanese and English are considered to be desirable candidates for a number of secure and high paying jobs. Potential jobs in careers that require both Japanese and English include working as a translator, sales, telecommunications officer, assistant, and company representative.
Currently, an organization known as “The Coast Community College District,” based out of California, hosts a summer study abroad opportunity for students to visit Japan. With this 2 to 4 week program, students are able to tour Tokyo and Japan while practicing communication skills, learning more of the culture, and applying classroom knowledge to real-world experiences.
The continued globalization of today’s economy prompts more community college students to consider studying a second language. By having bilingual skills, along with your degree from community college, you can significantly increase your professional opportunities and value in the job marketplace.
Arapahoe Community College, available at
Ashland University, available at https://www.ashland.edu/
Coast Community College District, available at http://www.cccd.edu
Hall, Kenneth. “Rise in Spanish Speaking Residents,” Tampa Bay News, October 17, 2006, available at http://www.tampabay.com/news/spanish-heard-more-and-more-in-tampa-bay-according-to-us-census/2259673