Many nations are represented in the Steele Creek community. While a mixed chorus of languages makes beautiful music, it is confusing when people cannot address each other in a common tongue.
Language barriers make it difficult for parents to talk to their children’s teacher, or to tell a doctor about a medical need, or to interview for a job. Traffic signs and common directions are in English.
Children pick up language quickly but it is tough to get started in school when they show up on day one not speaking English. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools enrolls 17,000 students for whom English is not their first language.
This language barrier also presents opportunity.
Today many companies need bi-lingual employees. It is an advantage for a potential employee to speak more than English, or more than Spanish or any of the three dozen native languages of Steele Creek area residents. There is now evidence that long-term, single language employees are being replaced in favor of bi-lingual speakers.
The Foundation already supports English as a Second Language classes and basic Spanish classes, and will start a language academy. Led by trained teachers and native speakers, the academy will help students acquire not only proficiency in language, but vocabulary specific to their career plans, whether in banking, service industry, medical field, insurance, sales or other. Being bi-lingual will greatly enhance employment options.
The HopePlex will provide classroom space for language labs and funding from the Foundation will supply computers, language learning software and native speakers to lead classes.
While the Language Academy classrooms will be in the HopePlex, the Foundation can work with businesses to provide training at a work site to enable current employees to communicate effectively with the changing population.