STATEHOUSE (Feb. 3, 2016) – The House of Representatives voted 95-1 in support of State Rep. Tony Cook’s (R-Cicero) bill to provide high school students classes in newly created workplace functional Spanish, emphasizing common Spanish vocabulary and acceptable grammar usage. Upon successful completion of the classes, students will qualify for credit and special language notations on their transcripts.
According to the United States Department of Labor, nearly 23 million people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity represented 15 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2011. By 2020, Latinos are expected to comprise 19 percent of the U.S. labor force.
“Statistics show the Spanish-speaking workforce is growing,” Cook said. “Being fluent in Spanish will help an individual distinguish themselves from other potential job candidates and give them a leg up in the job market.”
Students could start taking elective Workplace Spanish classes that will count for credit and notation on their high school transcript as soon as the 2017-2018 school year. The Indiana Department of Education is charged with the task of providing a course description and outline of acceptable units of study. Cook said the distinction would benefit both high school students and potential employers.
“This is a great opportunity for a high school student who is on the workforce readiness diploma track to show potential employers that they went above and beyond in their studies by becoming vocabulary functional in a language that helps them communicate more efficiently once in the workforce,” Cook said. “This program will also help promote knowledge and diversity and may encourage students to take more language course work.”
Cook’s bill can now be considered by the Senate.
Rep. Cook represents Tipton, Hamilton, Grant, Madison, Delaware, and Howard counties.