New Intensive Language Program Offered
The program, "Language Intensives in L.A.," will feature classes in seven tongues: Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Amharic, Catalan, Swahili, and Yoruba.
This article was first published in the Daily Bruin.
By Charlotte Hsu, Daily Bruin senior staff
UCLA will offer a new intensive language program this summer that will use Los Angeles' language-rich community in teaching students to speak, read and write.
The program, "Language Intensives in L.A.," will feature classes in seven tongues: Spanish, Arabic and Russian, along with Amharic, spoken in Ethiopia, Catalan, spoken around Barcelona in Spain, and Swahili and Yoruba, spoken in Tanzania and Nigeria, respectively.
Students will take field trips around the city to explore cultures that correspond with the language they are learning. Guest speakers from Los Angeles who use languages taught in the program will visit campus to chat with classes.
The idea is to create an interactive learning experience to bring the region's diversity into the classroom, said Olga Kagan, director of the Center for World Languages, which is organizing the intensives with UCLA Summer Sessions.
"L.A. has about 200 languages spoken," Kagan said. "So we sit right in the middle of it, but at the same time, we teach the language in the classrooms as though there were nothing around us."
"We teach it as though it's ... a dead language," she added. "This language is not (dead) – this is living language."
Each course will count for 12 or 15 credits, about equal to the number students earn in three quarters of language learning. Classes will last several hours each day for six to eight weeks starting in June.
Possible class activities range from cooking traditional foods to visiting a retirement center that houses native speakers of the language being taught, said Lyn Repath-Martos, assistant director for academic advising and student affairs at the Center for World Languages.
Social situations like cooking and eating catalyze language learning because students are more relaxed and less focused on the fear of making a mistake in grammar or pronunciation, she said.
The program will offer full and partial scholarships to some participants, contingent upon merit and need. Enrollment is not limited to UCLA students, and coordinators are hoping to attract high schoolers, Repath-Martos said.
The incentives for taking languages like Amharic and Swahili vary by student, she said. Some need to fill a requirement. Others may have learned the language once and forgotten it, or want to connect with a grandparent who is a native speaker.
Kagan said language learners may simply be adventurous or have an interest in the literature or politics of a culture. Students of less commonly taught languages stand out among peers because they possess unique knowledge, she added.
Six of the courses offered in the program are new; in the past, only Spanish has been taught with an emphasis on connecting with Los Angeles.
Several new languages will likely be added to offerings next summer, including the Baltic tongues Estonian and Lithuanian, said Kathryn Paul, assistant director for program development and administration at the Center for World Languages.
This summer's program is the pilot for what staff hope will grow into a larger project in coming years, Repath-Martos said. "L.A.: What richer place to do it?"
Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2006