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April 24, 2008

Smith and ULM students conduct Spanish course for local law enforcement

Dr. Ruth E. Smith, head of the ULM Department of Foreign Languages, recently conducted a six-week course in Spanish for the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Department.

The goal of the course was to assist deputies in developing an elementary level in Spanish to help them serve the Spanish-speaking residents of northeast Louisiana. Smith was assisted by four ULM students who served as conversation partners:

Smith said that similar courses are possible in the future, depending on the Sheriff Department’s schedule and needs. “The officers who completed the course seemed to feel that it was helpful. I enjoyed working with them and admired their industry, especially when all of them had worked a full day or would work a full day after the time spent with me. It is very difficult, though not impossible, for hardworking professional people to come back to school to try to develop language skills.”

She mentioned that the students in the class who had taken Spanish at ULM or in high school improved more rapidly. “Developing proficiency takes time, and the sooner or more often we work with the language, the better the skills will be. I congratulate the Sheriff's Department on putting the course together, because when there are emergency situations, people under stress have a lot of trouble communicating in their own language, much less the second one. I hope that this course has helped emergency responders better assist people who are in distress.”

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