Monday, October 26, 2015

Utah: A Multi-lingual Jackpot

In one of our first big waves of hiring in Utah in 2011 we set a goal to have 25% of the new recruits speak Spanish or Brazilian Portuguese fluently. We easily met that goal. We now have people who speak over a dozen languages as either their first language (with English as the second) or as a fluent second language. I don't have the stats, but we also have a lot of people who speak three languages fluently! I'm delinquent with only two (English and Spanish).

Bi-lingual & Tri-lingual Skills in Utah? Huh? 

People unfamiliar with Utah are often surprised to find out about the language skills available here. There are 4 reasons for this phenomenon:
I speak Spanish and a few words of Basque

  1. Public schools
  2. Mormon church
  3. Local universities
  4. Low cost of living & high quality of life

Public Schools

My 3 youngest children are all in a Mandarin Chinese immersion program offered by their local schools. Their teachers are from mainland China or Taiwan. They speak nothing but Mandarin a full half of every day at school. It is amazing. Other language immersion programs include French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. Kudos to local government and the public school system for building on the strong foundation that was created by #2 . . .

Mormon Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons) has a Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Utah which employs over 1,000 instructors teaching approximately 50 different languages to tens of thousands of church missionaries every year. The National Security Agency (NSA) took note of this impressive operation and located one of their language processing centers in the state as a result. Many of the bi-lingual missionaries trained in the MTC return to Utah to study and work after their missions.

Local Universities

80% of Brigham Young University's student body speaks a second language. The University of Utah offers studies in 17 different world language courses and over 180 languages are spoken by their students. Utah Valley University also boasts a large and diverse student body (+33,000).

Low Cost of Living & High Quality of Life

The Silicon Slopes are an attractive places for Silicon Valley refugees, not to mention people from other parts of the country and world. We have relocated people with language skills from China, India, Egypt, Brazil, just to name a few. Many of them purchased their first single family home here and have brought friends and family along with them.

Check out the recent KSL news article on this topic. 

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