The Tool You Need to Get Ahead at Work

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As an urban planner, much of Dorothy Le's job is communicating with the communities she serves. Dorothy, who took Spanish in middle school and high school, is often asked to translate documents and do outreach in Spanish-speaking areas. Says Dorothy, “My Spanish is passable, but I need more than proficiency to get ahead at work and really interact with the communities we serve.”


Dorothy works with Neighborhood Plaza Partnership (NPP) and helps to transform reclaimed streets into vibrant public plazas. The NPP is a program of The Horticultural Society of New York and is responsible for helping maintain and support a number of open spaces across the city, which include public seating, areas to relax, and place to meet with your neighbors. At Dorothy's job, knowing Spanish, along with a host of other languages, is helpful. She also volunteers with an organization that works with delivery cyclists, many of whom speak Spanish as their first language.

Dorothy says she tried to improve her Spanish at first through Meetup groups, but needed the infrastructure of a class to really progress. After researching various language programs, she polled friends to find out the best investment of time and money. A friend had taken classes at both Fluent City and a competitor and offered that Fluent City was hands down “better classes, cooler teachers, and a better price point.”

Since beginning classes, Dorothy says she's more confident to talk to all Spanish-speakers, not only those at work. Her Spanish skills were put to a test last month when tourists approached her for directions on a subway. Says Dorothy, “A few months ago I would have been extremely timid and worried about mixing up right and left. However, I not only gave out directions. I was also able to converse with them about their plans!”


Spanish is not the only language she's studying. Dorothy is now taking Spanish classes for professional reasons on Mondays and has added private Russian lessons for personal reasons on Tuesday nights. Dorothy has a Russian fiancé and hopes to communicate with her future in-laws in their native language. Studying two languages simultaneously has helped Dorothy recognize her progress:

“As I learn Russian, I sometimes think in Spanish when I am trying to find the right foreign word. Starting at the beginning with the Russian alphabet has helped me realize how proficient I am actually getting in Spanish. I plan to continue with both.”


Urban planners are not the only professionals who can get ahead at work by learning a new language. If you work with patients, customers or students who are most comfortable in a language other than English, consider taking a language class to connect better with your clients. You will pick up a skill that makes you more valuable in your current role as well as opening up opportunities for future promotions.

Pick up a second or third language at Fluent City. See all upcoming classes at

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