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New Program Teaches English to Hispanic Construction Workers

A new educational resource from Home Builders Institute (HBI), the workforce development arm of NAHB, will help home builders improve their communications with Spanish-speaking workers.

Sed de Saber™ (“Thirst for Knowledge”) — Home Builders Edition is being developed in partnership with Retention Education, LLC, as an English as a Second Language (ESL) learning tool for the residential construction industry. It includes seven self-paced, interactive books that use Leap Frog Enterprise, Inc.™ technology to teach workers 500 vocabulary words and more than 340 phrases commonly used in home building.

“With an estimated 2.4 million Hispanic workers fueling the nation’s home building industry, the Home Builders Edition of Sed de Saber™ represents an enormous opportunity for home builders to recruit and retain skilled workers, fortify business relationships, increase efficiency and employee loyalty and promote job site safety,” said Michael Sivage, a builder/developer from Albuquerque, N.M. and HBI chairman.

"Those employees who don't speak English need something to help them understand basic construction terms," said Tommie Harendt, president of Tommie Harendt Construction Inc. in Abilene, Texas. "Anything that we do that helps break the language barrier is going to benefit our companies, the employees and the home building industry," said Harendt, who is president of the Big County Home Builders Association.

The program takes about 16 weeks to complete and includes an assessment tool to gauge progress at set intervals. Each kit is reusable and can be shared among workers and their families and friends. “This is a breakthrough ESL tool that offers our industry a tailor-made solution to language barriers typically found on residential construction job sites nationwide,” added Sivage.

A team of experts from the home building industry is being consulted to ensure that the material is accurate and relevant to daily activities and interactions on the job site.

Based on proven learning methods developed and supported by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education, the program also teaches language skills to facilitate such everyday activities as parent-teacher conferences, visiting the doctor and finding addresses.

“Retention Education has partnered with HBI to produce the most relevant, effective and specific language learning program available to the home building community,” said Bill Groux, the company’s founder and chief executive officer. “Sed de Saber™ — Home Builders Edition is being created by home builders, for home builders, to foster better communication on the job site and empower users to advance their fluency in English and improve their lives.”

The kit also includes a Quantum Pad™, microphone learning system, data cartridges, headset, power adapter and carrying case.

HBI is now accepting pre-orders for the kits, at $395 each, for delivery in February 2007.

For more information, e-mail Ashley Mills at HBI, or call her at 800-795-7955 x8926.

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