Thursday, April 4, 2013

Language Programs at Wesleyan

Recently the students at my school learned that it was possible that some of the language courses could be cut in the future. One of my friends, Katie, took action and went to talk to faculty to figure out more of the details of what was happening. After gathering all her information we had a meeting with many interested students to discuss the issue and think of possible solutions that we as students could implement. Here are the details. 

The big concern for most students are the Asian languages, Japanese and Chinese, offered on campus. However, other classes such as Greek, Russian and German are also a concern. Japanese class is less of a problem than Chinese since Japanese has a full time professor and the faculty that started the program in the 1980's had strong ties with Japan. However, most students drop the class after they fulfill the Gen Ed requirement. As for Chinese, there is not a full time professor and the teachers from China only stay for 2 years. The current professor is going back to China after the end of this year. Therefore, Chinese 101 will not be offered next year due to restructuring in the department. The students who are in Chinese 102 currently will be able to finish their 3 semesters since the University has gotten a professor from Hartland Community College to teach them specifically. The other language courses are less of a concern since they mostly all have tenured professors, but they could still use more students!

The main issue that we as students can address is the issue of enrollment and interest in the programs. Students need to show interest in the programs for them to keep being offered. The main issue for the University is money, so if we increase enrollment in classes there will be no more problems. Many ideas were put forward to increase interest, the main ones were:

  • Foreign Language Fair: similar to a study abroad fair there would be booths for all the languages offered at Wesleyan. Students could go from booth to booth and learn more about the languages, countries it is spoken in, uses for it in our world and much more. 
  • Workshops with International Students: students in a language course or just developing an interest could go practice the language, learn about culture, and just have fun with students native to the particular countries.
  • Establish a community: instead of the students in a language class simply being classmates the professors and students could foster an environment of friendship. That way people coming into the language could see how much fun all the students are having and how good of friends you can become with your fellow classmates. They will also know that if they ever have a problem there will always be someone they can go to for help.
  • More promotion: right now the only promotion for language classes are some small posters around campus. Language classes could utilize more campus resources by running ads in the Argus, doing a video promo for Titan TV, or running an ad on the school radio station WESN.
  • Actively recruit students: when potential students are on campus advertise all the unique languages that we offer. Make sure they know that if they want to keep learning Spanish or French they can, but if they want to try something different, like Japanese or Russian, those are also offered on campus.
  • Target First Years: During Turning Titan week we could have an event where First Years learn all about the different language courses they are able to take. This way they know about the classes before they register.
This is obviously a complex problem that affects many people. However, the people that are most affected are us, the students. Chinese only started to be offered on this campus because in 2007 students started a petition that eventually had more that 300 signatures on it saying that they wanted Chinese to be offered, and the faculty listened. If we all put in an effort to make our voices heard, not just complaining but working towards a solution, the faculty will make an effort to work with us. This is not an issue that only one person can solve. So if this is of any interest to you make your voice heard! If you have any ideas of what can be done to help this problem here are some people you can contact:

Faculty: Jim Matthews, Chair of the Modern Language Department
Students: Me! I love learning languages so I would love to work with more people to make awareness of the classes more well known! So send me a message on Facebook, email me, or if you have my phone number send me a text! 

P.S. Tonight I enjoyed a nice big mug of Passion tea while writing this (^^)


  1. Very well written. I'm proud of you <3


    1. Thank you! Good job tonight, you were awesome!