NVCC Program Helps Staffers Learn Spanish


(Friday, March 2, 2007 9:58 AM EST)

Habla español? Full-time employees, faculty and support staff at Northern Virginia Community College soon will be able to answer, “Sí!”

Recognizing the large population of Spanish-speakers in Northern Virginia, the college's human resources department is set to offer a free, functional Spanish course for its full-time faculty and staff.

Those who sign up will meet once a week for eight weeks at the Annandale campus, and will learn basic Spanish communication skills and culture.

“We are a large community college, and we have a very diverse student body,” said director of human resources Myrtho Blanchard. “We try to make sure that our faculty and staff reflect the student body and its needs.”

The class is the brainchild of Spanish professor Dr. Alicia María de la Torre Falzon, who has taught at the community college for 14 years. After conversations with her colleagues, she realized that there was a need for a course of this nature and taught the first session last winter.

Falzon uses a textbook, as well as her own materials, to teach the course. During the eight weeks, students enrich their Spanish vocabulary (especially words used in an academic setting) and learn basic verbs, simple commands and greetings.

Falzon also teaches students elements of Latino culture.

“I always teach to make sure that culture is a reflection of the language, and language is the reflection of the culture,” she said.

Although many students take the class simply to enhance their communication with the Spanish-speaking community at the college, others have different reasons for learning the language.

Some learn Spanish for family relationships, a few want to retire in Spanish-speaking countries and some want to do volunteer work in the Hispanic community.

“Whether they're traveling or continuing in their professional careers, it's just about being able to communicate with people,” Falzon said.

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