Colombian police officers take language course on campus

group of people standing in two rows in a classroom before a whiteboard
Lisa Wooning, front row center, and other ELS Language Center staff members stand with a group of police officers from Colombia.
Image credit - Bernadine Carey-Tucker
group of people standing and sitting in a classroom
Colombian police officers meet with a Spanish class taught by Sandra Fernandez-Tardani.
Image credit - courtesy photo

Fifteen police officers from Colombia concluded a month-long course at Grand Valley's ELS Language Center December 7, studying English to help them improve their policing skills in their country.

Lisa Wooning, center director, said in addition to language classes, arrangements were made for the group to visit the Ottawa County jail and a Grand Rapids fire station, and spend time at Grand Rapids Police Department and Grand Valley Police Department. 

It was the first time a group of professionals arranged to take a course through the ELS Language Center. Wooning said the condensed course included time for conversational English with a criminal justice class and work with a Spanish class.

Juan Barrera said he and the other officers were selected for the program by the Colombian National Police. All officers have high ranks and at least 14 years of experience.

Wooning and ELS staff members worked to create a curriculum for the officers before they arrived, including creating policing vocabulary lessons for half the day. With that curriculum in place, she hopes to bring other law enforcement groups to the center for language courses.

ELS Language Centers have partnerships with more than 600 U.S. universities. The center at Grand Valley is located in Au Sable Hall on the Allendale Campus.


Sign up and receive the latest Grand Valley headlines delivered to your email inbox each morning.