Making the Connection

By Continuing Education

¡Aqui Hablamos Español!

Making the ConnectionAs more and more of us ride the bus, take the train or pedal a bike, it is good to know that Metro Transit is focused on providing us with safe, convenient and reliable rides. And, given the trajectory of their growth, it is clear that they know how to keep things moving in the right direction.

Their success is largely attributed to careful planning, analysis and project management. Metro Transit considers everything from shifting neighborhood demographics to event schedules in order to deliver the best routes and resources to meet variable and increasing demand. While this level of insight and coordination is critical, Metro Transit also looks for opportunities to enhance those "human moments" that make a difference. A recent example of this is seen in the Spanish training program that Normandale facilitated for some of their law enforcement officers.

Safety and Service

Metro Transist Police Department goes the extra mile to bridge the language gapThe safety and security of riders is the top priority for Metro Transit Police, and language barriers can make this more challenging. Lt. Jason Lindner explains that "there is an increasing number of people who only speak Spanish, and whenever people commute, there is going to be some stress. If an officer can quickly respond to everyday questions or concerns, everyone can relax a little. When there is a serious situation, knowing specific words and phrases reduces confusion and establishes an immediate sense of order." He further shares, "our intent for the program was to provide Spanish training that would give our officers the ability to say hello with a smile, communicate the basics and build greater trust with the people we serve."

Occupational Spanish

Lindsay Selby, Community Service Office and Kelly Franco, Patrol OfficerUnder the direction and leadership of Chief John Harrington, Lt. Lindner contacted Normandale to deliver an introductory Spanish program customized for the needs of Metro Transit's law enforcement officers. To accelerate skill development, the college used a learning method that can be described as a building block approach. The course was designed around a core set of high frequency phrases and verbs - those structures that are used commonly in everyday language. The college then met with Lt. Lindner to determine a complementary vocabulary set - specific words and phrases that were considered critical for their officers. In just 18 hours of training, the goal was to help the officers become fairly comfortable with their ability to speak rudimentary Spanish.

Skills and Commitment

LeLeAnn - Spanish InstructorAnn Taylor, the instructor for the program, has worked with Normandale for more than 10 years. "She is terrific" offered Community Service Officer Lindsay Selby. "Some of us were just ending a shift when we headed into class and LeAnn made every session interesting. She helped us to feel more confident as we practiced our Spanish. LeAnn also rides the Green Line every day, so she really understood our work and who we serve."

LeAnn was equally impressed with the dedication of the officers and with Chief Harrington. She shared, "the Chief attended almost every session. That kind of support and commitment is amazing. The officers were really engaged in the learning and challenged each other to learn more and more each week." Lt Lindner also shared that "when I sent out an email asking for who would be interested in participating in the training, the class was filled almost immediately." Lindner said that this training is just the beginning. Metro Transit Police will continue to look for effective ways to connect officers to the people and communities that they serve.

Uno Dos Tres

Becoming more connected to your customers, employees or community is just one of the many reasons to learn a language. If you or your organization is interested in gaining new skills or an appreciation for other cultures, call Normandale at 952-358-8343 to see how learning a language and making meaningful connections can be as easy as Uno Dos Tres!