THE EDITOR: TT is centrally located in close proximity to most of the Latin American countries in the Western Hemisphere. This location provides an advantage in the global economy now being enjoyed by many nations across the world.
I see TT as a bilingual Spanish and English speaking country and a more important player through initiatives by both government and private corporations. The expectation is that our Latin Americans partners will participate and support the endeavours to make the effort a win-win situation for all involved.
Extensive planning to develop and improve bilingual communication with a select number of countries will be required. This step will ensure that all the benchmarks are included and met as progress is made.
An exchange programme for teachers with bilingual capability to teach in a Latin country for a period of at least two years could be instituted with a focus on fluency. A similar exchange programme can be developed in the Latin American country to have teachers with similar capabilities come to TT with the same focus and time frames.
Government ministries should develop a similar approach by hiring Spanish bilingual employees to work in critical areas. These areas should include immigration, police and coast guard. There are other positions in the various ministries that should be considered for bilingual placement. In all the government offices, the objective should be to develop and maintain bilingual capability.
The private sector in TT should also be encouraged to participate in bilingual development. All parties will benefit and Latin American countries would be encouraged to do business with those organisations in TT since there will not be a language barrier. Obviously, people prefer to do business with those whom they like and understand.
Be reminded that Spanish is the most widely spoken language in the Western Hemisphere with a population in excess of 500,000,000 people. The US has a population of 325,000,000 with approximately 19 million being of Latin heritage and speaking the language. I might add that many documents today are in bilingual form.
The time is now to make that move; a move that will make TT bilingual and more prepared to compete in the global economy.
CYRIL M VALDEZ via e-mail