November 18, 2003

This session was intended to discuss languages and the language requirement. It was noted at the outset, that Macalester has among the stronger language requirements among our comparison schools.   The session also discussed the tight link between the major program of study and the decision to approve a study away program. There was some sense that this link hurts students in the sciences and other majors for whom study away is not a clear part of their major.


DM:Study abroad and languages.   Senior and language requirement experience not good went to Italy could not take Italian. Get people abroad earlier even for three weeks. Large numbers of people in a j-term before sophomore etc before declare language they are going to study.   Interesting to have program that they could

JL: what is the function of study abroad?   Language learning might be an important one. Not the same as junior year where it is attached to major.  

LSS: Very misguided way to look at study abroad. Yesterday’s NYT article about shorter study abroad.

AL: assuming it makes a great deal of pedagogical sense to get people to study away earlier.

ND: Last institution I was at replaced semester abroad with one or two week study away.   2 week experience junior year then combined with semester abroad.

KI: I have seen from intensive Spanish study away students get energized about study away.

GH: when was program…

J-Term.   No teaching credit,

LG: we farmed out teaching to someone else.

GH: need support for this. Essential to get funding. 2 credits.   Support is more important thing.

LG: I don’t agree people with money could always do more things than people without money.

DM: if we gave money we could make it more competitive. Make them work harder,

GH: show some institutional support for this.

LG: Replacing some of this with what they do here.

AL: What I’m hearing is that this is important. Some value to short study away program.

RM: Appreciate committees openness. What is langauage requirement for? Does it support internationalism? Of course, but it also supports multiculturalism.  

AL: Core element of liberal education is access to another culture. Not just a Macalester College value but core to the liberal arts.

DK: Might be worthwhile to look at what other schools do. Oberlin, Carleton Grinnell: Carleton looks like us require a fifth language semester in difficult language. Oberlin does not make the distinction between multicultureal and languages.

Williams has no language requirement. Swarthmore…has…

One thing that troubles me is that language supplants humanities requirement.   Not the same as philosophy.

DI: Does language requirement satisfy humanities?

JL: Is it a worry that science students do not take enough humanities.

DK: no its the other way. Humanities students do not take science. I administer the engineering program and they require more humanities than we require and our graduates need to take more humanities than required level to get into engineering program.

DI: should languages count for humanities?

LG: Why not? There is an unspoken subtext here?

AL: Refocus discussion.   If student is only going to take 2 classes should introductory languages count?

DI: Ive reached this stage in my life where living dangerously makes me feel alive. We hear that a years study of language is not sufficient to learn a language. But not sufficient to study away. I recently took a year of language and while it was very beneficial I don’t think it should count for humanities credit. Case could be made that languages should not count for humanities.

What is it we are hoping to acquire from this? First semester study language is not the same as taking philosophy.   I’m saying that certainly the first year ought not to count for humanities second year language case is not so clear cut.

LSS: I would disagree with this. Language lakes a long time. Hard skill. Even in first week learn different form of address is important humanities skill.

DI does it go to the same level as a humanities skill.

AL: We are likely to have something that looks like a language requirement and something that looks like a humanities requirement but separate them.

KS: I personally would like all requirements to go.

AL: Look at Pomona all those skills look like a form of requirement.

SP: Speaking as someone who has taught introductory language does not look all that different than a humanities course.   Further devalue languages.

DM: Although “Outcomes”, makes sense. It maybe also useful to talk about experiences. Outcomes is too instrumental. Experience to be “other” that is outside your language.   Especially for Americans.   Even if its negative, that is try and fail.   What happens in first year language course is very valuable.

AL: Does it make sense to have a requirement that lumps all humanities requirements together?  

DK: not an issue, but we have this odd overlap in requirements. By making languages required we get languages. Languages are not philosophy. Fact that we have requirement creates this incentive.

Language requirement is a cost. Huge subsidy to the languages. Four course requirement is a huge commitment of resources to the languages. No other requirement is this strong.   We are spending a lot on internationalism, some of the ways students satisfy language requirement. Three satisfied by Russian.   At some point you have to look at what we do in totality and one area that is heavily subsidized is languages.   I ask that you look around and ask how you can do this with maximal efficiency.

LG: Sounds like we get a lot of bang for the buck. Some satisfy languages in languages outside their primary language.

DS: a large percentage of   those taking first year intensive Spanish return for second year.   If counted only second semester.   We could have certificate etc….ways that a lot of things could be more efficient and enhance our experience. We would all enjoy teaching more.  

JL: In Old main humanities some were persuaded that Grinnell model (no requirements) is the way to go. Is that heresy in the languages?   Do people in languages ever say I don’t want a language requirement because I don’t want student who doesn’t want to be there?

GH: Requirements are one way to force students to explore.  

AL: Can be done by advising. Huge investment on part of faculty.

DM:Special thing about languages is inhibitions.   If you have the requirement then people who are intimidated by languages are forced to try.   Language departments are not highest grades in the college.

AK: International students come from a place where all courses are required.  

RM: We are thinking about minimum. We need to think about the maximum.   What are we really trying to do. Advising my first year students no student complaining about taking a course in science etc… How do you maximize this is really the issue.

AL for example when we talk about a writing requirement we also talk about a writing program.

RH:   ?I like requirements. What does this language requirement mean? What are the goals? What do we expect at the end of four semesters?

DS: Students happy about language requirement.

GH: We had intensive program but no enrollments so we stopped. And as we see enrollments count.

DM: It would make sense to have languages a big part of a capital campaign. Americans are way too isolated in the world.  

SD: One thing I havn’t heard is to take it one step further use a language in another class. But have not heard it today.

One more thing we should again consider how study abroad is configured with respect to languages. Study abroad not fully used.

AL: right now study abroad is tied to major. Might make sense to tie to program of study. Probably a good thing to have every student study away.   Many of our students parochial.