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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Texas A&M’s language course selections lacking

 
 

When Zhun Fang Zhao moved to College Station in August to teach the first Chinese language class offered at Texas A&M in several years, she was concerned the class might not take.
Upon arriving at the University, however, she discovered the class was full, and there was a demand for more Chinese classes. Chinese language classes are the result of a $178,000 grant from the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program, given in July of 2005.
“I was surprised to see that 24 seats had already been taken and there were students that e-mailed me to see if they can get forced into that class,” Zhao said.
A&M offers fewer foreign language courses than other Texas universities, and some students worry this harms the University.
The University offers degrees in four languages – Russian, German, French and Spanish, said Pamela Matthews, associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts. The University of Texas offers degrees in 18 languages and Texas Tech offers degrees in three, according to the universities’ Web sites.
In the past year, A&M has added Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese to its course listings, and Arabic will be offered in fall 2006.
The University must introduce a wider course range to encourage diversity, said Whitney Stevenson, a sophomore history major taking Beginning Chinese II.
“If A&M wants their students to continue to be an influence in the global world, they’re going to have to offer languages, such as Chinese and Arabic,” Stevenson said.
A&M will likely increase the amount of foreign language courses offered, Matthews said.
“Even though there aren’t specific plans to add other languages, I feel certain that they will be added as budgets allow and as space allows,” she said.
Finding professors to teach the courses is not a hindrance to expanding the University’s languages programs, but there can be problems when students’ degree plans do not incorporate such classes, Matthews said.
“A&M does pretty well hiring any professors,” Matthews said. “I think the trick is where do you fit it in? The curicula is already so tight.”
In 2004, the language department was divided into the Department of Hispanic Studies and the Department of European Classical Languages and Culture. Another department is planned to accommodate the growth of the most recently begun language classes.
“What will happen eventually, as we get these languages developed, is that Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, any other languages that we have that are not Hispanic and not European, will be put into a separate unit,” Matthews said.
But Zhao is concerned that, for now, listing Chinese under Modern Languages in the University’s course schedule may prevent some students from taking the class.
“They put Chinese under the MODL, which makes it kind of hard for students to find,” Zhao said, “I already made some posters with the Japanese teacher, and we just want to make more students know about this kind of course offering.”

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