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Spanish Course for Professional Development also Empowers Guatemalan Women


Professionals earn Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) for self-paced, occupational Spanish courses and develop conversational skills with Spanish tutors in Guatemala.

PORTLAND, Ore., Jun. 26 /CSRwire/ - Rhonda Orazio became a registered nurse out of a desire to help people. Working in the Health Services Center, Rhonda helped many people, but sometimes language barriers got in the way. So, Rhonda studied Spanish at the local community college. The classes helped, and she found she wanted to take her Spanish-speaking skills to the next level.  Rhonda got that chance when she met Spanish teacher Claritza Morales.

Claritza lives in Guatemala, one of the poorest countries in South America but also world renown for its Spanish language immersion programs.  People from all over the world travel to Guatemala to study Spanish because of the culture and because many of the Guatemalan Spanish teachers are college educated and highly experienced instructors.  

While the quality of instruction is very high, the work is seasonal and low paying, making it difficult to make a living as a Spanish teacher.  This was the case for Claritza who had started teaching fifteen years ago. Then in 2008, things changed for Claritza when she started teaching Spanish by videoconferencing with students online. 

Rhonda and Claritza met when Rhonda enrolled in a new 8-week online course. Rhonda would study medical vocabulary and phrases then meet with Claritza, via Skype, to practice what she’d studied. Claritza created personalized lesson plans for Rhonda depending on what she had studied.  In addition, Clartiza would play the role of a patient giving Rhonda scenarios for using her Spanish to diagnose symptoms. “This course helped me feel more comfortable initiating conversations with Spanish-speaking patients,” says Rhonda, “and the convenience of studying online and being able to reserve the conversation sessions to fit my schedule made a huge difference for me.”  

This innovative Spanish course for professional development was created by Tara Williams, a Spanish teacher, who founded Pronto Spanish,  Pronto Spanish created Spanish courses for 16 different professions, such as Spanish for Educators, Spanish for Law Enforcement, and Spanish for Health Care, which are offered online in community colleges and universities across the United States. Each course offers at least 2.4, or 24 hours, of Continuing Education Credits (CEUs). Tara had heard from her students that they loved the online courses, but they wanted the opportunity to practice what they had been studying. Tara approached Speak Shop,, whose Guatemalan Spanish tutors had taught more than 30,000 Spanish lessons online via Skype, about providing conversation sessions to the Pronto Spanish courses.  “I am thrilled about these new courses,” said Clay Cooper, co-founder of Speak Shop, “because they help working Americans connect people across cultures and provide better livelihoods for Spanish tutors in Guatemala.”

For Rhonda, the Spanish course has made her more effective at identifying and addressing patients’ needs and wants. As Rhonda has gained professional skills and fulfillment, so has Claritza who took her Spanish teaching online as a way to provide a better life for herself and her five children. “Even as a teacher it is very difficult to make a living in Guatemala,” says Claritza, “teaching online has been life-changing.”

Interested students can enroll at

Pronto Spanish, is a leader in offering online, occupational Spanish courses for a variety of industries.  Founded in 2002, Pronto Spanish now offers their online courses in over 2000 community colleges and universities in the United States.  In 2010, Pronto Spanish was accredited as an Authorized Provider to administer IACET CEUs (International Association for Continuing Education and Training Continuing Education Units). Pronto Spanish also publishes occupational and conversational Spanish workbooks, designed specifically for adult and continuing education students, for an interactive, student-centered classroom learning experience.

Speak Shop, Speak Shop was founded in 2004 to make it easy for everyone to take face-to-face personalized cross-cultural Spanish classes and to generate economic opportunity for professional Spanish teachers in Guatemala. People around the world use Speak Shop to learn Spanish online via Skype.