Erica Fish, Marketing Communications Specialist
This summer Barron Collier Companies staff participated in the first-time offered Spanish I course, taught by Naples’ Express Languages whose mission is to provide high-quality, interactive language instruction with personalized service designed for students to practice long-term language skills in professional and social environments.
For today’s workplace cultures, improved communication skills continue to increase in importance with the globalization of the business world. “We live in a multilingual and increasingly globalized society where connections are now more important than ever,” said Andrea Emberg, Express Languages Course Administrator. “The advantages are countless. It goes beyond engaging with a wide range of ideas, people and cultures.”
According to the 2019 U.S. Census, an estimated 4.8 million of Florida’s population speak Spanish, and breaking down that number further, the Hispanic/Latino demographic encompasses a great deal in southwest Florida making up 39.72% of Lee and Collier Counties’ populations combined.
With this in mind, CEO Blake Gable and Director of Human Resources Jamie Thompson, initiated the opportunity for staff to learn the state’s second-most spoken language. “Effective communications skills are essential in any social or professional setting, and we want to give our employees every opportunity to expand their language skills to become better communicators,” Gable said.
“While speaking a second language can help team members better connect with colleagues and clients, that’s not the only communication benefit being multilingual has,” Thompson said. Multilingualism improves cognitive performance, attention, mental alertness and problem solving, according to recent studies. “Interestingly, the class learned being taught a second language could improve their fluency, originality and knowledge of their first language,” she said.
The companies’ first class began March 2022 with staff meeting weekly. They virtually visited some of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries, learned about different cultures and customs, studied phrases and conjugations and ensured support during each new lesson. “The class was a very special group of professional, determined individuals striving to be the best versions of themselves,” Emberg said. “After the first day teaching, I understood why Barron Collier Companies is admired. Not only by its history, many awards and impressive projects, but the determination expressed by everyone who represents the level of success this company possesses.”
Ellymae Cutler, BCC Front Desk Receptionist, participated each week and shared she always wanted to speak a second language and after getting the opportunity to learn Spanish, she knew it would benefit her work responsibilities. “The course generated a lot of understanding – lessons were broken down by each syllable and pronunciation, and I appreciate having access to all the class work taught since the course has ended, so I can stay in the know and be prepared for Spanish II.”
Due to demand, plans are in the works for a second class, and Emberg and Express Languages affiliates look forward to teaching the next group.
“Southwest Florida’s exponential growth in recent years has seen an influx of Spanish speaking residents and visitors. As a company, we are committed to pursuing excellence in everything we do including communication skills. We thank Express Languages for helping us do just that,” Gable added.