Sanford teams with Concordia Language Villages to teach employees English

Sanford is working with Concordia Language Villages to help health care workers learn English, on Sanford's dime and time.

Anne Walker of Concordia College teaches English to Sanford employees.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY-TV

MOORHEAD — Usually, we just walk by them: janitors and housekeeping staff doing their jobs.

But on Tuesday, April 5, the two men who were washing windows and cleaning floors at Sanford are part of a pilot project. Sanford and Concordia Language Villages are teaming up to teach an intensive, six-week English course.

Tuesday was also graduation day.

Halima Barre is from Somalia. On Tuesday, she joined other coworkers who came to Fargo-Moorhead from around the world. They are proud housekeepers and cleaners who were unsung heroes during the pandemic. Now they are learning English so they can do their jobs even better.

"Now I'm talking English. Oh my God, I'm very happy," Halima Barre, said.


"(T)his can give them the boost and the confidence that's needed to really succeed in the workplace, and also bridge those gaps between language and culture," said Mary Maus Kosir, executive director for Concordia Language Villages.

The English Language Learner program focuses on those working in the environmental services department. Nurses who are recruited from other countries arrive here already knowing the language.

This comes at a critical time for Sanford Fargo. There are hundreds of job openings. This class is one effort to keep workers by investing in them. Sanford pays for the class, drives them here and teaches during the employee's work day.

"We absolutely hope that we build their confidence to the point where they would want to take on a leadership role, and then after that, maybe they even move into a different department. (...) We have ladders of success within a health care setting like that," said Lisa Gibson, senior director Support Services for Sanford Health.

Another big reason for the classes is that these housekeepers and environmental service workers are around chemicals and other potential hazards. Mastering the language keeps them and others safe.

Sanford is also hosting a job fair at Delta Hotels Fargo on April 27 beginning at 10 a.m.

For more information on the job fair, visit:

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
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