College to fund new language center

By Sara Jerome

The Division of the Humanities and the College are funding a new $1.7 million Center for the Study of Languages (CSL) on the second floor of Cobb Hall to open in Autumn 2006.

The project aims to consolidate the resources of the Language Labs and Archives, located in the basement of the Social Sciences building, with the Language Faculty Resource Center, located on the second floor of Cobb, according to Steven Clancy, the academic director for the CSL.

The first architectural meeting occurred on Wednesday, and the renovation will begin in the summer. The new area will have a comfortable coffee-shop atmosphere, Clancy said. Some of the University’s language equipment, including certain audio equipment and tapes, will still remain in the Social Sciences building.

Aiming to meet the needs of all graduate and undergraduate language students, the CSL was developed to serve the nine different departments that offer language instruction. In the fall term alone, 49 different languages were offered.

“We’re really working together to create [the CSL],” Clancy said.

The CSL will consolidate the University’s language resources and incorporate new cutting-edge equipment, according to Clancy.

Stephanie Latovski, the associate dean of the College for International and Second Language Education, said the changes will incorporate “the newest technology that meets the needs of today’s students for wireless, remote, and asynchronous learning.”

New technologies may include videoconferencing equipment, providing students with virtual immersion experiences, as well as “satellite TV with video-on-demand through TiVo digital video recorders [which] will replace news-only broadcasts from SCOLA [a nonprofit group which rebroadcasts TV programming in foreign languages],” according to a summary of the new facility.

The summary also said that new services will include a series of workshops on language education with technology, a two- to three-quarter sequence in language education, and two competitive Oral Proficiency Interview training fellowships offered annually by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language.

The new CSL comes in response to a 2004 faculty report that reviewed the University’s current language resources. Some problems with the old facilities included the mismatch between classroom sizes and the number of students in the class, as well as the general need to update the University’s resources.

“To some degree, we’d been behind peer institutions in resources and in the training we could offer graduate students, but in some sense [the creation of the CSL] is just to consolidate the excellent language classes we already have,” Clancy said.

Dean of the College John Boyer, who supported the project along with Dean of the Humanities Danielle Allen, said that this project comes at a time when our language programs are growing and internationally focused education is strongly supported by the University.

“We have made progress in the last several years in graduating hundreds of students from the College with measurable advanced proficiency in foreign languages and knowledge of other cultures,” Latovski said. “The CSL is a positive step by the University to signal the continued importance of solid, innovative, and effective language teaching.”