by Eva Gudbergsdottir

CLS staff and grower's staff in the fields
Spanish instructor Irma Astier (second from left) working with
Steinbeck Country Produce staff in the field.

Chris Huntington is helping to grow more than lettuce, cau­liflower, broccoli, celery, and strawberries on the ranchos of the Salinas Valley. Through the Institute’s Custom Language Ser­vices (CLS), the CEO of Steinbeck Country Produce is cultivating intercultural communication among his employees.

As a graduate of the CLS program, Chris saw firsthand the value of his Spanish-language skills when interacting with Stein­beck employees. Based on his experience he decided to provide language training for other staff to improve communication throughout the organization.

CLS Spanish Instructor Irma Astier applies a con­tent-based instruction approach, bringing authenticity to the language program by connecting classroom learning with re­al-world applications. At Steinbeck, she spent time with the field foremen, learning the process of preparing the soil, caring for the plants, and then cutting, cleaning, and packing the vegeta­bles. She used that knowledge to prepare relevant materials for the classroom. She also facilitates excursions to el rancho, where learners practice their skills on the job with native Spanish speakers, bridging the traditional divide between corporate and field employees.

This customized inter-language experience paves the way for better communication and intercultural understanding with­in the company, which Chris sees ultimately as key to better serving his customers.

For More Information

Eva Gudbergsdottir
evag@middlebury.edu
831-647-6606