Department speaks new languages

By Meg Dowell

Starting this fall, a new sequence of elementary language courses will be added to the department of English and Modern Languages, with potentially more to follow.

“We’d like to add [more] languages at the elementary level,” said Dr. Sue Williams, department chair. “In today’s world, we know people are interested in learning languages … [and] we want to do more to help.”

The department is also considering an adjunct to teach a course or two in Chinese, and an Arabic class may also be available in the future. The number of language courses offered throughout a single academic year, however, depends on how many languages it can sustain.

This past fall semester, a pilot language and culture course in Korean was offered within the department. Partnering with Korean Nazarene University, Olivet offered the knowledge through distance learning and online instruction. Fifteen students ended up finishing the course.

“Whenever you add a new course, it always depends on population,” Williams said. “If it stays in the mix of courses, it’s because students have signed up to take it.”

Along with a course revolving around the culture and language of Korea, students will also have the option of earning their foreign language credit by taking two consecutive courses in Portuguese, which is currently the fastest growing European language in the world, according to the Portuguese Language Guide. A professor fluent in the language has been hired to assist in the expansion of students’ linguistic and cultural knowledge.

“We want students to be prepared for going out into the world,” Williams said. “We want to prepare them to be … good stewards [and] good servants for the Kingdom.”

Though a small population of private university students can only spread itself so thin, Dr. Williams is confident that “the more we’re exposed to languages, the better.”

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