“Marriott International has one of the most diverse workforces in corporate America, and we are deeply committed to developing strategies that equip our employees with the skills and confidence they need to be successful. In this internationally connected world, language skills are obviously a critical component of that success. We are honored to be recognized by the E Pluribus Unum Prizes program and are very proud of the thousands of Marriott employees who take advantage of the opportunities our company provides them to improve their language skills.” - M. Andy Chaves, Corporate Senior Manager for Marriott
Marriott International’s Global Language Learning initiative takes advantage of readily accessible technologies and instructional programs to make language learning available to its U.S. workforce, from employees in entry-level positions to its managerial ranks.
More than 10 percent of Marriott’s 106,000 associates in the United States (who hail from dozens of nations and speak more than 50 languages) have taken advantage of company-sponsored language programs — from immigrant employees who learn the English skills they need in the workplace and their daily lives to Marriott managers who need to communicate with foreign-language speaking staff and guests.
Through the Sed de Saber™ (Spanish for “Thirst for Knowledge”) program that Marriott piloted in 2006, employees who are learning English can access portable electronic learning devices that allow them to learn at their own pace, whenever and wherever it is convenient for them. Employees are permitted to bring the electronic language learning devices home with them, which allows family members to share in the benefits of instruction.
Marriott also provides language learning programs in more than 30 languages to managers and other employees. Marriott’s blended instruction approach includes providing workplace resources such as small learning communities and language coaches in each hotel, plus translation pocket guides and language posters to encourage language appreciation at work.
As language skills become an increasingly important element of business success in the global marketplace, Marriott International has proven itself to be a forward-looking leader in the field of employer-supported language learning. Its Global Language Learning initiative has leveraged available language instruction technologies throughout its 106,000-person workforce to help employees improve their language skills. Workers who participate in the Global Language Learning programs have an 85 percent completion rate.
Marriott’s efforts are a win-win for its immigrant workers, who improve their English, and for the company, which benefits from a multi-lingual workforce. The Marriott program provides a model for how employers can support language learning on a large scale without taking on the roles of an education institution, such as hiring teachers, developing curricula, and organizing traditional classroom instruction.
Their program model also creates new capacity for adult English instruction at a time when adult English classes are oversubscribed in many communities.
M. Andy Chaves, Corporate Senior Manager, has been with Marriott International, Inc. for more than 20 years. He directs Marriott’s Workforce Effectiveness and Diversity initiatives, including language development programs — Global Language Learning, diversity recruitment programs, and retention initiatives.
Mr. Chaves serves on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Task Force for New Americans.
His work on language programs has led to many conference and forum appearances related to immigration issues, and found an audience at the White House where the President sought his counsel regarding English proficiency development programs as an investment in the workforce.
A graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Mr. Chaves has more than 30 years experience in the hospitality industry. He has spent the last 13 years in Human Resources, both in Marriott’s North American lodging division and at corporate headquarters.
As the Head of Youth Strategy at Marriott, Mr. Chaves directs a cadre of advisory board members, mentoring program participants, and curriculum development teams. He is program ambassador to the Hispanic College Fund’s Hispanic Youth Symposiums as well as the Marriott Scholars Program. He contributes to curriculum development at National Academy Foundation and is President of the Montgomery County Career Advisory Board for Hospitality.