Businesses break language barriers, offer classes
Spanish speaking employees saturate the workforce throughout Park City resorts and hotels. As a result, language barriers often exist among employees and between employees and guests. In an effort to alleviate these communication difficulties, many businesses now hire bilingual staff, offer language classes and workshops and print all paperwork in both English and Spanish. Chandra Cartwright, housekeeping manager at the Marriott Summit Watch, said all 20 of her housekeeping associates speak Spanish as their primary language. She said the Marriott offers on-site English as a Second Language (ESL) classes twice a week for her employees. Cartwright said the classes help the associates learn housekeeping vocabulary and everyday language in English, which enables them to communicate with guests and other hotel staff members. "Even if they make a mistake or they think they sound silly, they are taking the risk to try it," Cartwright said. Housekeeping associates who spoke very little English six-months to one-year ago now field telephone calls and answer guests’ questions, and a couple associates were promoted to supervisor or front desk positions after learning English, she said. "Housekeeping is hard work and they probably don’t want to do it for the rest of their lives," Cartwright said. "It’s going to provide them with job opportunities in the future." In an effort to communicate better with employees, Cartwright enrolled in two eight-week Spanish classes through the Park City School District Community Education Leisure Learning Program. She said the classes taught her basic Spanish phrases that help her get points across to her staff. Connie Jauregui, front office manager at The Yarrow hotel, said Spanish speaking employees are encouraged to take ESL classes through the Park City School District. She said The Yarrow will pay the $15 enrollment fee and will give its employees the time off to take the course. She said The Yarrow also holds a once-a-year conversational Spanish workshop for English speaking employees. "It helps them at least have some kind of communication," she said. Jauregui said all hotel manuals are printed in both Spanish and English and three managers are bilingual. Kim Mayhew, human resources director at Deer Valley Resort, said Deer Valley began offering a weekly ‘Spanish lunch’ for employees in October. "It’s a way to break down some of those cultural barriers," Mayhew said, "and language is the thing that can keep you from crossing those lines." She said employees who want to work on their Spanish as well as those who would like to learn some English meet every Friday where they review themed vocabulary in both languages. "Our hope is that people will walk away from that meeting with a new phrase or a new word," she said. Mayhew said all Deer Valley handbook and general materials are printed in both languages and ESL class information through the Park City School District is posted in the resort. She said Deer Valley Resort also offers entry and advanced-level Spanish classes in the winter taught by a fellow employee who works at the University of Utah in the off-season. Robin Netland, human resources director for Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley, said most supervisors are proficient in both English and Spanish and employee documents, including newsletters, are printed in both languages. "Most of the things that go to employees, whether we have flu shots or if we are part of a blood drive, we will translate it in Spanish," she said. Katie Eldridge, director of communication for The Canyons, said human resources documents such as the yearly staff guide books, the 401k retirement plan program descriptions and medical insurance forms and elective insurance descriptions, such as long-term disability and additional life/accidental death insurance are offered in both Spanish and English. She said The Canyons has two full-time employees in the Human Resources office who are bilingual, and they are scheduled to work so that someone is always there to communicate with the Spanish-speaking staff. Jill Pierpont, benefits manager at The Canyons, said employees who participate in ESL classes through the Park City School district are reimbursed for the enrollment fee. Judy Tukuafu, director of community education for the Park City School District, said ongoing adult ESL classes for residents are offered in the Park City Learning Center at 2400 Kearns Boulevard, next to McPolin Elementary School, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. She said five teachers teach five different level courses and there are approximately 125 participants registered so far this year. Tukuafu said local landscapers, painters, construction workers, housekeepers, resort employees, nannies, cashiers, chefs and other food service employees attend the classes.
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