woman gazing into a screen filled with images of people

Community leaders are utilizing language proficiency to engage larger audiences in today’s connected world.

Since its inception in 1992, Language Testing International (LTI) has become a leader in administering language proficiency tests in more than 120 languages and in over 60 countries. While LTI has understood the importance of language proficiency skills since day one, over the past nearly-three decades, we have seen the “power” of language grow exponentially.

Think about it this way: 1992 pre-dates public access to the World Wide Web, mass use of email, the dot com bubble, social media, and the globally connected society we now live in today. The services LTI offers didn’t just adapt to fulfill the language testing needs caused by these shifts—they have become increasingly more valuable.

In a recent episode of LTI’s “Language Is Your Superpower” podcast, guest Marcos Vilar, the Executive Director of the non-profit ALIANZA organization, shared, “the world is becoming smaller, in the sense that we have the opportunity to travel, to engage, and, since the Internet, you really don’t have to travel to engage,” Vilar stated, “sometimes you can use these artificial intelligence translators … technology to translate what you’re saying. But there’s nothing like sitting in front of a person, or even screen-to-screen, and being able to engage in their language.”

Marcos Vilar, a native of Puerto Rico, moved to the mainland United States at the age of 14. He has worked in Washington, D.C. in government, labor, and non-profit settings. In Chicago, Illinois he worked as a high school teacher, and in Florida as a consultant for several organizations in the non-profit and electoral sectors. Today, he also runs his own business, Vilar Strategies, a public relations consulting practice in Orlando, FL. His clients rely on his linguistic and cultural competencies to plan strategies, create legislative and advocacy campaigns, formulate issue campaigns and electoral campaigns, as well as conduct not-for-profit organizational development and management. Their goals are to activate Latino civic engagement at a national and local level and create a coalition of organizations that work together to increase Latino civic participation in key states. And Marcos is just the person to help accomplish these goals.

While some people may associate having a noticeable accent with negative connotations, Vilar explained how that is an outdated way of thinking in today’s globally connected world, and how an accent is merely a sign of aperson’s “language superpower.” “My accent is my asset, not my liability,” Vilar said. “It means I speak two languages, or three, or four. That means that you can speak to and relate to more people than a person who only speaks one language. It means that I don’t have to force people to come to me in my language. I can share my thoughts, and my ideas, and my knowledge to you in either language.”

Marcos knows first-hand that “the byproduct of having two [languages] is that you talk a little bit funny or your talk a little bit different.” However, his experience has taught him that his accent is “just a byproduct of something that is huge, and is powerful, and is valuable when it comes to communications, because the name of the game today is communication; being able to get your message and get your thoughts out to as many people as possible.” To put it simply, he explains, “if you can do it in two languages, you’re going to be that much more successful. You’re just going to have a bigger audience—more people that you can reach.”

That is why, now, nearly thirty years after we first opened our doors here at LTI, the importance of language has remained a constant, but the power of language keeps getting stronger. This leaves us with just one question for you: Are you utilizing your language superpower as a community or business leader?

Want to know more about Marcos Vilar’s story? Tune into our most recent podcast.

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