A NEPA first: 100% online college translation/interpretation courses


HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A first-of-its-kind online college curriculum in northeastern and central Pennsylvania is about to become reality. As Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, the goal is to address some of the needs associated with a growing local Hispanic population.

Surfing Lackawanna College’s website, 2nd year student Melanie Tejada zeroed in on her major: criminal justice. “You can do so many things with it. You can be a police officer. You can be a probation officer. You can be a corrections officer. You can be a lawyer.”

All of those professions in and around Hazleton benefit more and more by being able to speak both English and Spanish. Lackawanna College Hazleton Center Director April Harris-Snyder explained, “If you’re bilingual, having that extra layer of being able to translate and interpret is just… it’s invaluable.”

It’s why Lackawanna College Hazleton Center held a roundtable discussion on Wednesday after announcing it will begin offering new translation/interpretation certification programs 100 percent online starting this fall. One of the programs is Spanish Translation and Interpretation which can benefit students in a number of majors. “This could be criminal justice but it could also be, you know, for a medical student who’s an allied health professional, in the business arena or human services,” said Ms. Harris-Snyder. 

The way it will work, Lackawanna College students will take the online courses — two in the fall and two in the spring — then take those 12 credits and apply them toward their degree mandate. The online course is free to current Lackawanna College students fluent in both English and Spanish. Ms. Tejada said, “In a way, when you know two languages you’re worth two people so that can be very helpful.”

It’s helpful to more than just students. “It just gives them another step up and it helps elevate the population in the community,” explained Ms. Harris-Snyder. “It takes down a barrier. Absolutely. 100 percent. And then it helps other people who probably need to be interpreted to feel safe and comfortable.”

Another benefit of becoming proficient in both English and Spanish is the economic boost it can bring to such areas as Hazleton. Society of Hispanic Professionals of Hazleton Area Vice President Fermin Diaz said, “More language is just more clients, more business for our area and that’s what we want to do.”

Lackawanna College Hazleton Center is also offering ESL to Customer Service with Microsoft Office Word certification program. It’s a combination of intense English literacy along with customer service and computer skills instruction. For more information or to apply, contact Lackawanna College Hazleton Center at 570-459-1573 or email hazleton@lackawanna.edu.

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