Spanish is the world’s fourth-most-spoken language and the U.S’s second-most-spoken language. To ensure this community’s needs are met, Northern Arizona University created a new website, NAU en Español, a fully Spanish experience for prospective students and their families. NAU is the first university in the state to have a Spanish site built from the ground up.
As a federally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) with more than 25 percent Hispanic enrollment, NAU recognizes the importance of reaching out to Spanish speakers, both within our community and beyond.
This new site provides comprehensive information about enrollment, degree programs, tuition and financial aid, campus life and more. It is not a mere machine translation of NAU’s English website. The HSI team, led by University Marketing, worked with partners throughout campus to curate content that provides information about the university in Spanish and creates a sense of pride and ownership of what it means to be a ‘leñador.’
“Building a website entirely in Spanish, from the ground up, means NAU is communicating directly and clearly with Spanish-speaking families,” said Luis Fernandez, HSI co-advisor to the provost and chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “This is better than machine translation, which often is awkward and full of errors. Rather, a team of Spanish-speakers at NAU built a page with reliable content that students and families can find easily. This is key to one of NAU’s central mission: accessibility for all.”
This optimizes the university’s searchability and invites parents and family members who are more comfortable speaking Spanish into the process. More than 45 percent of NAU’s students are first-generation students, meaning they are blazing their own trail in the university ecosystem.
“Sometimes, students who are already navigating an intimidating college application process must take an extra step to translate complicated pieces of the university system like financial aid, admissions, housing and dining, for their families who don’t speak English,” said Claudia Rodas, HSI co-advisor to the provost. “This website gives families first-hand access to information about the university in their native tongue, taking pressure off the students to translate.”
NAU has already taken steps to better include Spanish-speaking families in the university landscape through The Lumberjack Family Hub. Established specifically for families, the hub connects them to resources, newsletters and events to enable families to better support their prospective and current students on the journey to college and while at NAU, with an option for a fully Spanish experience. Together, these initiatives will evolve to keep serving-ness at the forefront of NAU’s HSI initiatives.