Professional Studies to expand programming in Spanish

Students complete the Child Care Credentials Spanish program.

University of Wisconsin-Platteville Division of Professional Studies is in the design phase of expanding programs to be offered in Spanish. Currently, professional studies has five child care credential programs being offered in both English and Spanish.

“We want to provide a pathway where a person can learn a subject within their own language,” said Dr. Craig Wilson, dean of the Division of Professional Studies. “As they acclimate to the way things are done in the U.S. and gain mastery of a particular topic, an important next step would be to help these students increase their English language proficiency to introduce them to even more opportunities.”

“Throughout our region, our populations are becoming much more diversified,” said Kerie Wedige, director of the UW-Platteville Continuing Education Institute. “Children are so important to serve and be that educational entity across the region that can support both languages. It’s our mission of the university to support everyone no matter what language they speak.”

The child care program initially started in Spanish due to the request of community members, according to Education and Training Program Manager Chenoa Ruecking. Since the launch of the program, enrollment has continually grown.

“It’s been approximately 8% per year,” Ruecking said. “We’ve been offering them for more than five years. There is an increase demand for the courses; it’s been successful and we want to continue to build on a successful program.”

To meet the driving force for more Spanish-speaking courses, the division is working with local Hispanic groups to discuss the initiative. The response has been positive.

“We know we are meeting a need. We know the individuals are enjoying the courses because they are coming back to take additional credentials,” said Wedige.

Some of the students enrolled in the courses have already earned their master’s and doctorate degrees. “One of the ways we can help bring them into their profession again is through English as a Second Language classes and help that transition,” said Ruecking. “There are a lot of underemployed people right now in Wisconsin. Their talents aren’t being fully utilized.”

The Division of Professional Studies is also in the planning process of building a Spanish language website. Ideas for the website include having a specific set of pages in Spanish that are connected with specific programs.

“It sends a message to our community that we are very inclusive and sensitive to their needs. We want to do what we can to help them along their educational journey,” Wilson said. “[The website] would have an English and a Spanish version. The reader will have the option in picking the one they would prefer to read the content in.”

The timeline to unveil the Spanish-speaking courses and the website is in 2020. “We are working with our colleagues throughout campus so we can make this a successful launch,” Wilson said. “As we roll this out, we will need to make adjustments to make it more impactful for our intended audience.”