Ali Semeraro is an Accounting/Administrative Assistant for Hubbell Galvanizing who has been in charge of creating and implementing the English as a Second Language Pilot Program at Hubbell Galvanizing. Here she gives an account of how she helped start the program as well as how it is going.
Hubbell Galvanizing, Inc. has approximately thirty-one employees originally from countries including Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia, among others. Hubbell is committed to maintaining a safe working environment for all of its employees. One way that we have done so is by reinforcing industry specific words and phrases for employees where English is their second language.
As a native English speaking individual myself, this became a learning experience for me as well. Since I do not speak Burmese we had to get creative with our tutoring methods. With the help of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, we were able to get accurate translations of words such as danger, crane, forklift, zinc, burn, and other words to help employees communicate and maintain safety in the workplace. I made flashcards that included pictures, the English word, and the respective translation to communicate with and teach the employees. We meet once a week for about thirty minutes when it is convenient with the production schedule. I found myself learning how to say some of the words in Burmese, getting to know the employees, and learning more about galvanizing in the process.
Several of the employees involved in the program have been with the company for ten or more years and helped me break down some language barriers. As a whole, the feedback from the employees was very positive and they are enjoying their time in the class.
As a long term goal we will be prepared to help new hires learn in this way in the future. I am very happy to have been involved in this process and look forward to working more with the employees.
Pictured Left to Right: Ruby Shwe (Burmese), Kyaw M. Oo (Burmese), Maung Thet Oo (Burmese), Ja Mar (Burmese), Pichai Keawpinna (Thai), Emmite White (Supervisor). Hubbell Galvanizing Plant Employees.
Burmese Flash Card Example: