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Covington offers free Spanish classes so its workers can communicate with a growing Latino population

People sit around a table, learning Spanish.
Ann Thompson
/
WVXU
Fares da Silva, president of Silva Languages, teaches a handful of Covington City employees how to speak Spanish. The classes are free and organized by Covington's Human Resources Department.

The city of Covington is preparing to offer its second free Spanish class to employees after an enthusiastic response to the first one.

Executive Assistant to the City Manager Liz Glass seemed at ease conversing with the President of Silva Languages, Fares da Silva, during class. She signed up after getting an email from the city's human resources department announcing the classes.

“So I thought OK, I’m a little nervous about this. I didn’t do so well in high school. I had no reason, no motivation behind it, other than passing the class back then.” But Glass says now, “It seemed like a very interesting opportunity.”

Glass does deal with the public and realizes knowing Spanish could be an advantage.

The number of Latino residents in Covington more than doubled from 2010 to 2020, according to the latest U.S. Census, to 7.1%.

Human Resources Manager Stacey Hoeter started the class after hearing a city worker and business owner were having trouble communicating.

We need to be able to communicate with our residents and businesses, and it’s a second language here," she says. "It’s incredibly important."

Sheena Switzer works in Parks & Recreation and is taking the class. “The need that they have for Spanish speakers is overwhelming," she says. "So I was very grateful for this opportunity to be able to really help out, not just our community but the whole community."

The next eight-week class starts in January, according to Hoeter. “Our employees that are currently going through the program are actually loving it. They’re thrilled with it.”

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology