HARRISBURG, S.D. (KELO) — Language barriers can cause significant challenges in the workplace.
Showplace Cabinetry in Harrisburg is working hard to make their Spanish-speaking employees heard in the workplace. That’s why they started offering English classes in partnership with Caminando Juntos, giving employees the tools they need to be able to communicate with others.
Caminando Juntos, sponsored by the Presentation Sisters, is an outreach ministry with the Latino population in the Sioux Falls area.
Whether it’s on the assembly line or outside of the workplace, Showplace Cabinetry is preparing their Spanish-speaking employees, like Mike Fiduero to be able to communicate in English with those around him. Fiduero is originally from Puerto Rico and began working at the Harrisburg business a year ago.
“The English classes are awesome because when I started here, I don’t understand when the people talk, but then with practice and I take a class with Maria and April and it’s helping me,” said Fiduero.
For Maria Puente, helping to organize these classes is a way for her to give others the opportunity her parents never had as Spanish-speaking employees.
“My parents are Mexican, they also had language barriers, which prevented them from getting a higher paying job and also they were never able to advance,” said Puente. “I think if my mom would have had that opportunity, I think she would have thrived at her work as well.”
The classes are one hour long, twice a week, during regular work hours, making it easy for employees to attend.
“It’s important for us to be able to do it with the hours that they are working too, because we know they have busy lives. We want to make sure that we can provide a good work life balance for them,” said Heidi Bowers, HR director.
“My English has improved, now I understand more when my co-workers speak to me,” said Tatiana Rodriduec, employee.
Breaking down barriers to bring communication and community to the workplace.
“They are more involved, they understand more, they get to have higher-paying level jobs as well,” said Puente. “Before they wouldn’t talk a lot or communicate so we would just see them as workers, but now it’s just like they are able to talk to us.”
“Helping for everything because all the time, I need English,” said Fiduero. “The first time, I say I cannot, but now it’s exciting.”
They have had 15 people complete the course so far and have 60 people interested in taking it. They also hope to add higher level classes in the future.