Hispanic Community Services, Inc. Breaking Language Barriers

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-- Despite being the second most spoken language in the United States, barriers still exist between those who speak Spanish and those who don't, but Claudia Eckert is trying to change that.

"I enjoy teaching them not only the language, but I enjoy teaching them the culture," Eckert.

Claudia teaches Spanish at the Hispanic Community Center in downtown Jonesboro.  The center's director, Gina Gomez,  says it's a service growing in popularity and demand.....considering the problems language barriers present.

"When you are not able to communicate, when you are not able to make a doctors appointment, when you are not able to go out and fill out an application for work, or when you don't understand what the teacher of your children is saying to you," said Gomez.

Gomez estimates there are around 6000 Spanish speaking individuals in Jonesboro alone.      She says many are trying to learn English, but it's very time consuming, especially when their top priority is finding work.

Gomez says learning basic Spanish can help bridge the language gap.

"You hear sometimes people they criticize, why don't they learn English fast if they are here in the United States?  It's not as easy as sometimes people may think," said Gomez.

Beth Guest is a nurse at the health department. She's hoping Monday night's class will help her better serve patients.

"We do have an interpretor, but if she's not there, or she's busy we can't talk to them or help them with their problems, I mean it comes to a standstill," said Guest.

The classes range from basic Spanish to conversational Spanish. While a second language won't be learned overnight, teacher Claudia Eckert says with these classes, the language barriers are made a little less complicated one word at a time.

Hispanic Community Services, Inc. is starting its first series of Spanish classes for 2009. There will be three levels of classes for adults:

  • Basic 1 will be on Mondays from 6 to 8 pm beginning January 12th through March 2nd.
  • Basic 2 will be on Tuesdays from 6 to 8 pm beginning January 13th through March 3rd.
  • Conversational will be on Thursdays from 6 to 8 pm beginning January 15th through March 5th.

The cost of the adult classes is $60 for 8 weeks. These classes will lay the foundation for speaking spanish in everyday life. There will also be classes for children on Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30 beginning January 22nd through February 26th. The cost is $35 for 6 weeks. For more information or to register for classes call (870) 931-1884 or visit 311 W. Huntington Avenue in downtown Jonesboro.