Yale University Center for Language Study

Language Centers Colloquium

March 25-26, 2000, Yale University


List of Language Center Directors

Elizabeth Bernhardt, Stanford University
Stephane Charitos, Columbia University
Nina Garrett, Yale University
Maria-Regina Kecht, Rice University
Claire Kramsch, Mark Kaiser, University of California-Berkeley
Melvin Luthy, Brigham Young University
Frank Ryan, Brown University
Harold Schiffman, University of Pennsylvania


Contact Information for Language Centers

Background Information on the implementation of the Center for Language Study at Yale


Questions discussed on this site

How large is your institution?

For how many languages is university staffing available?

Who teaches languages?

When was your center established?

What are the center's principal mandates, and what problems is it intended to address?

What staff do you have in your center?

What kind of appointment do you as director have?



Director Responses to Survey Questions


Question 1) How large is your institution?

31,000 students

29,000 students


21,000 students*



12,000 students

11,000 students

*Columbia is a diverse institution with many different schools which interact in arcane ways. Columbia College has 3,884 students and all of them are full-time. General Studies has 1,085 undergraduates and about half of them are part-time. Engineering has about 1,200 undergraduates. Columbia thus has a total of 6,169 undergraduate students.


Question 2) For how many languages is university staffing available? -- i.e., How many languages are on the books? How many are routinely offered in any given semester? In how many languages can students major? What is the departmental organization -- i.e., How many departments, area studies programs, etc., teach languages?

The General Catalog lists 39 living and 16 'literary' languages, i.e., languages either no longer spoken or taught only as literary languages (e.g., Latin, Manchu). In reference to how many languages are taught routinely in a given semester: in Fall 99 UC Berkeley offered 38 living languages and 11 'literary languages'. Students can major in the following languages:

  • Majors with 4+ years of language courses offered: 11 living, 2 'literary': Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew; Latin, Greek
  • Languages with "Area Studies major" and 2-3 years of language offered: 8 living: Scandinavian, Dutch, Turkish, Persian, Hindi/Urdu, Tamil, Indonesian, Celtic

Languages at Berkeley are taught in 11 departments in the Division of the Arts and Humanities of the College of Letters and Sciences. A small number of languages are taught outside the Division: Linguistics (Division of the Social Sciences) teaches Swahili and Yoruba and a few languages are taught in the Title VI Centers (not included in the list of languages above).

University of Pennsylvania
Number of languages taught: hard to say at any one time; There are departments of: Romance Languages., Germanics (Slavic now administered by German); Asian & Middle Eastern (AMES), and South Asian (SARS). People major in Spanish, French, (Italian?), German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian; people tend to double-major a lot in all languages., esp. in South Asian (where there are no non-double majors) Area Studies programs: East Asia, South Asia, African Studies (federally funded; Middle East was once federally funded, now seeking it again). ALL Languages not taught in departments (e.g. African languages) are taught through the Penn Language Center (PLC).

Please see the PLC site for a detailed listing of both major languages and LCTLs taught at the center.

Brigham Young
In any given semester we will use university staffing to teach classes in about 25 languages We have the capability of teaching at least 15 additional languages if there is sufficient interest, and if we can hire qualified adjunct faculty. We offer majors in nine languages. We have four language departments within the College of Humanities: Asian and Near Eastern Languages, French and Italian, Germanic and Slavic, and Spanish and Portuguese. The Linguistics Department has also offered courses in less commonly taught languages. Our David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, in cooperation with other departments, offers an increasing number of area studies minors.


  • We offer the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, and Tibetan (16).
  • Students can major in the following language/culture areas: Asian Studies, Classics, French Studies, German Studies, Hispanic Studies, and Slavic Studies.
  • The following university entities offer languages: CSL, French Dept., German and Slavic Dept., Hispanic and Classical Studies Dept., Dept. of Linguistics, and Dept. of Religious Studies.

Brown university regularly offers courses in the following:

  • Modern languages: American Sign Language, Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi/Urdu, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Greek, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.
  • Ancient languages, including Ancient and Middle Egyptian, Old English, Classical Greek, Biblical Hebrew, Latin, Old Church Slavonic, and Sanskrit, are also regularly taught, while others such as Old Icelandic and Old Irish are offered as demand arises.

In general, Brown University will not offer a language unless 4-6 semesters of language study, which may or may not lead to the study of literature, will be offered, Most departments and centers offer a minimum of 6 semesters of language study. LCTLs and many ancient languages are offered for 4 semesters. Double concentrations (majors) are allowed at Brown and it is possible for students to concentrate in two languages.

Modern and ancient languages are offered in the following departments, centers and programs:

  • Classics: Ancient Greek, Modern Greek, Latin, Sanskrit
  • Comparative Literature: Arabic
  • East Asian Studies: Chinese, Korean, Japanese
  • Egyptology: Ancient and Middle Egyptian
  • English: Old English, Old Irish
  • French
  • German Studies: German, Old Icelandic, Swedish
  • Hispanic Studies: Catalan, Spanish
  • Italian
  • Program in Judaic Studies: Biblical Hebrew, Modern Hebrew
  • Center for Language Studies: American Sign Language, English for International Teaching Assistants (not for credit), Hindi-Urdu
  • Portuguese and Brazilian Studies: Portuguese
  • Slavic Languages: Czech, Old Church Slavonic, Russian


  • 70 languages are on the books.
  • 20 are routinely offered in a given semester.
  • Students can major in 15 different languages.
  • 6 official language departments and the Language Center which houses the Special Languages Program teach languages.


  • There are over 40 languages on the books with an additional 10-15 offered periodically. Of these anywhere from 35-40 are routinely offered every year.
  • There are 8 Language departments at Columbia (Classics, East Asian, French, Germanic Languages, Italian, Middle Eastern, Slavic, Spanish and Portuguese).
  • Students can major in 14 languages.
  • There are a number of area studies programs that teach some language courses independently of the language departments. Most prominently the East European, South Asian, African, and East Asian Institutes offer some language courses either on a permanent (African Languages) or semi-permanent basis depending on Title VI funding.

Yale has 53 languages on the books, and most of them are offered regularly. 

Students can major in the following languages:

  • East Asian Languages: Chinese, Japanese (offers courses in Indonesian, Vietnamese, Korean)
  • Classical Languages: Greek, Latin, Greek and Latin
  • French
  • Germanic Languages
  • Italian
  • Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (offers courses in Hebrew, Arabic, Egyptology, Coptic, and Syriac)
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish

Languages are offered

  • through eight language/literature departments (Classical Languages, East Asian, French, German, Italian, Near Eastern, Slavic, and Spanish /Portuguese),
  • through Linguistics (currently offers Hindi),
  • and through two area studies councils within the Yale Center for International and Area Studies (African Studies: offers courses in Kiswahili, Yoruba, and Zulu and Russian and East European Studies: offers courses in Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, and Hungarian).


Question 3) Who teaches languages? (university rank, status) How many faculty members are primarily or exclusively language teachers -- full-time, part-time?

Languages are taught by ladder-rank faculty, lecturers (approximately 55), and graduate students under the supervision of lecturers. Nearly all lower division language courses are taught by lecturers and graduate students. In upper division literature courses most instruction is carried out by ladder rank faculty; upper division language courses are usually taught by lecturers, but sometimes in the less commonly taught languages the courses are taught by ladder-rank faculty.

University of Pennsylvania
Languages are taught mostly by Lecturers and TA's, many part-timers (especially in the PLC). There are some full-time faculty (tenure-line, or "standing" faculty) but this is rare.

Brigham Young
Overall, we have 77 full-time professorial faculty teaching foreign languages. Forty-one have literature emphases and thirty-six have language/methodology emphases. Occasionally, a qualified faculty member from a non foreign language department will also teach a foreign language class. We have sixteen part-time faculty and sixty-four MA candidates who teach beginning courses. By language, the following:

  • German: First-year German classes are generally taught by six language acquisition MA candidates. Second-year German classes are taught by four to five full-time professorial faculty and one MA student. Third- and fourth-year German classes are taught by ten full-time professorial faculty. Our ten German professors are divided equally (five and five) in their emphases between literature and language/methodology.
  • Russian: Seven full-time professorial faculty members rotate in language-teaching assignments. Four consider their emphases to be in literature. Three others (and one MA student) identify with linguistics and methodology.
  • Spanish: Twenty-six full-time professorial faculty. Eleven with literature emphasis. Fifteen with linguistic/pedagogy interest. Thirteen part-time faculty, and thirty-four MA candidates teach beginning courses.
  • Portuguese: Four full-time professorial faculty. Three with literature emphasis. One part-time teacher and four MA candidates teach beginning courses.
  • French: Fourteen full-time professorial faculty. Ten with literature emphasis; four with language emphasis. Seven part-time instructors. Fourteen MA candidates teach classes (five in language acquisition and nine in literature).
  • Italian: Four full-time professorial faculty in literature. One part-time faculty member in language. One language acquisition MA candidate and seven part-time instructors teach beginning classes.
  • Chinese: Four full-time, professorial faculty. Three with language emphasis. Four part-time faculty and three MA candidates in language acquisition teach beginning courses.
  • Japanese: Six full-time, professorial faculty, evenly divided (3 and 3) between language and literature emphases. Also five part-time faculty. No MA candidates teaching at this time.
  • Korean: Three full-time, professorial faculty. Two with language emphasis. Also, one MA candidate in language acquisition teaching beginning courses.

This is a complicated question since the correct answer depends on the language and/or department where the particular language is offered. In general, though, it is accurate to state that most language courses are offered by lecturers and not by faculty members. In German, however, all faculty members are involved in the entire curriculum, from first year to fourth year. In Spanish, more than 70% of the students are taught by lecturers, who teach courses at the 100-, 200-, and 300-levels. Tenure-track Spanish faculty teach some of the 200- and 300-level language courses. In French, most of the first-year sequence is taught by lecturers, but one tenure-track faculty member who is a linguistics expert regularly teaches one of the first-year courses as well; other tenure-track French faculty, though not all, teach a section of the intermediate 200- and 300-level language courses.

It should be stressed here that most of our lecturers (many hold PhDs) are full-time (four or five courses per year) in that they receive full benefits (health insurance and retirement), are eligible for multiyear contracts, and are entitled to professional development sponsored by Rice University. Lecturers have their own office space (generally 2 lecturers per office), phone access, computer equipment, and technology support. Lecturers usually receive stipends for doing any work beyond the classroom teaching assignments.

Faculty at all ranks may teach language courses depending on background and interest. In traditionally high enrollment languages, most, but not all language courses are taught by senior lecturers, lecturers and advanced graduate students who have been trained in language teaching. In traditionally lower enrollment languages and in all East Asian languages regardless of enrollments, language courses are taught by faculty of all ranks.

Sixteen faculty members are full time language teachers. Most of these, except in East Asian languages, are lecturers and senior lecturers.

All language faculty are full-time and permanent. Except in rare cases of emergency or in start-up programs, Brown University does not employ part-time or temporary adjunct language faculty.


  • 85% of language classes are taught by lecturers and senior lecturers;
  • 5% by tenure line/tenured faculty;
  • TAs teach the remainder (university rank, status).
  • Only 4 faculty members are primarily or exclusively language teachers at this time.

Most of the language teaching is done by lecturers (full-time and part-time), adjuncts (full-time and part-time), and graduate students. Some language courses are taught by tenure-track professors but it is the exception, not the rule.

The vast majority of language teachers are lectors and senior lectors, i.e., not tenured or tenure-track.  The total number is about 95, with the majority of these being full-time.  (Yale is moving to consolidate more of its part-time language teaching appointments in the larger-enrollment languages into full-time ones.)


Question 4) When was your center established?









* (Columbia) The LRC was initially funded for a 30 month period in January 1998. It is currently seeking funding for a new 4-year cycle.
* (Rice) A twelve-member committee that had been charged with a thorough evaluation of the language departments at Rice developed the so-called Plan 2000, in which the founding of a Language Center was the foremost recommendation. The University adopted the Plan 2000, immediately funded two new faculty budget lines (for director and associate director), a new staff line (for program coordinator), space, and operating budget. The University also promised to create new positions for applied linguists in the depts. of French, German, and Spanish.


Question 5) What are the center's principal mandates, and what problems is it intended to address?

The mandate of the Berkeley Language Center is to "professionalize" language teachers and language instruction on campus, i.e., to strengthen the intellectual foundation of language instruction on the Berkeley campus and to create a language teaching community outside their respective departments. This is accomplished through

a) lecture series;
b) newsletter;
c) Fellowship Program (one semester one course release to pursue research or course development);
d) travel support to conferences;
e) seminars for faculty on specific topics (e.g., teaching portfolios, heritage speakers, etc.).

The BLC plays no role in hiring, promotion, or retention of language instructors, except on an ad hoc, consultative basis.

The BLC includes the Language Media Center and administers the faculty computer resource center for the Division of the Humanities.

University of Pennsylvania
The mission of the Penn Language Center is threefold:

  • To provide language instruction in areas such as languages for special purposes, the less-commonly-taught-languages, and for other short-term or special needs.
  • To provide an environment where research on language pedagogy, methodology, and teaching with technology can be carried on.
  • To provide services, information, and training to language teachers and language programs, especially in the area of teaching with technology, methodology, and coordination.

Main "problem" it intended to address was how to offer instruction in the LCTL's.

More details can be found at

Brigham Young
Our student body is unique in that a significant portion of our students have lived abroad for two years as missionaries for their church. Large numbers of them have learned less commonly taught languages and would like to continue study in those languages and in related area studies.

  • A major focus of the Center is to provide advanced courses in LCTLs during the summer term and to offer some of them during the academic year. *
  • The Center is responsible for recruiting qualified instructors in these languages. To the degree that an existing department teaches any of these languages, the Center defers to that department for approval of faculty and course content.
  • The Center is responsible for teacher training for the summer courses. In future years we plan to expand our offerings in LCTLs and perhaps offer refresher courses for persons who intend to travel or live abroad in humanitarian service, particularly in developing countries.
  • The Center also encourages cooperation in research and materials development among the departments and holds weekly colloquia to showcase work being done.
  • Finally, the Center coordinates the interdepartmental Language Acquisition MA program

CSL (initially consisting of a director, an associate director, and a program coordinator) was given a list of particular tasks to be carried out over a period of four years:

a) Enhance introductory language instruction through

  • creating a Language Coordination Committee (SLA experts);
  • hiring four new Language Coordinators (three tenure track, one lecturer);
  • providing training for language instructors, including graduate students; and
  • introducing proficiency testing.

b) Organize a Foreign Language Across the Curriculum Program

c) Institute an electronic Language Technology Laboratory

d) Present colloquia, workshops, and seminars

e) Conduct research in second language learning and teaching

f) Raise funds

Other recommendations were to implement five-day-a-week introductory language courses and to create a professional lecturer rank.

The primary mission of the Center for Language Studies is the continuing development of excellence in language learning through excellence in language teaching. Our primary activity is in the continuing professional development of faculty in language teaching and the initial development of graduate students in language teaching.

Our secondary missions are the development of improved language courses and programs and the development of traditional and technology-enhanced learning materials.

CLS was established to provide a primary intellectual center in which all faculty and graduate students with interest in language teaching have the opportunity to interact with each other. Most members have primary appointments in national literature departments, area or cultural centers and would be intellectually separated from other language faculty without the Center for Language Studies.


The Language Center's charge stated in University Senate legislation is

  • to guarantee that Stanford language programs are of the highest quality;
  • to develop and administer achievement and proficiency tests needed to implement and enforce the language requirement;
  • to coordinate and assess formal language instruction;
  • to provide technical assistance and support to the graduate students, lecturers and faculty who deliver Stanford's language instruction;
  • to encourage efforts to promote language study across the curriculum; and
  • to take the lead in developing new techniques and technologies for language learning.


  • The Center houses the University's language laboratory.
  • The Center contributes to the enhancement of language instruction at Columbia University by exploring alternative models of instruction.
  • The Center helps foster a dialogue between the various local constituencies who seek to provide viable solutions to the major issues confronting language instruction in general and language instruction in LCTLs in particular.
  • The Center takes a leading and active role in developing collaborative relationships with other institutional, regional, national, and international partners.
  • The Center serves as the administrative unit for a number of LCTLs.
  • The Center provides space and equipment for faculty and graduate student development.
  • The Center organizes and offers noncredit conversation courses and tutorials in a number of languages.
  • The Center serves as the locus of interaction between the School of Arts and Sciences and Columbia University's professional schools with an aim of determining the schools current and future needs in terms of language instruction and formulating the appropriate strategies to meet these needs.

The principal mandate of the CLS, in the words of Yale's president, Richard Levin, is to see to it that language teaching and language teachers are as excellent and as respected as any other discipline and teachers on campus.  It is intended to support, strengthen, coordinate and equalize, make more efficient, evaluate, develop administrative policies relating to, provide resources for, build up the use of technology in, integrate into the overall curriculum, and save money on, the learning of languages (including those which Yale cannot staff) at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional-school levels.  

It was established to address the long-standing fragmentation of language learning and teaching and the fact that no one at Yale had either the big picture as to how the general enterprise worked across all the different departments and programs or the professional expertise in language education to advise the Provosts and the Deans about it.  There is a growing recognition that a truly international curriculum and the goals of today's students pose new challenges to language programs and departments which call for the participation of academic administrators with professional experience and broad national experience in these areas.  However, it is explicitly not the purpose of the CLS to separate language programs from their cultural context in traditional departments or area studies councils but rather to strengthen existing relationships while validating the language part of the discipline. 

* (BYU) In the summer of 2000 we will offer courses in Romanian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, Hungarian, Tagalog, Ukranian, Vietnamese, Finnish, and Cebuano. We will also offer intensive courses in Arabic, French, and Spanish.


Question 6) What staff do you have in your center? (functions, percentage of time)


  • Director (faculty position, .5 FTE; long-term planning, coordination with language departments and Dean's office, BLC lecture series; BLC Fellows)
  • Associate Director (academic coordinator, 1.0 FTE; day-to-day operations, budget, personnel, long term planning, multimedia project development)
  • Academic Coordinator (UC Berkeley lecturer, .33 FTE; duties vary)
  • Programmers (2.5 FTE; multimedia development and system administration)
  • Recording Engineer (.85 FTE; sound recording)
  • Administrative Assistants (3.5 FTE; media duplication, classroom and tape circulation, front office)
  • Electronic Technician (.5 FTE; machinery repair)

University of Pennsylvania

  • Director,
  • Assistant Director for Administration (full-time),
  • Administrative Assistant (full-time),
  • Manager of Language Resource and Research Center (full-time),
  • and then on our budget are 50% African languages coordinator, and full-time, Korean Coordinator.

All teachers are part-timers, and can come from full-time faculty (moonlighting) or other people with other full-time jobs, etc.

Brigham Young
At the present time, our Center staff consists of a

  • director, and
  • a part-time secretary.

Other offices such as the Office of Admissions and Records, Foreign Language Residence program, Humanities Research Center, and the College of Humanities function in close cooperation.


  • Director, tenured in a language department; on a six-year appointment; rotating appointment-100%
  • Associate Director, tenure-track or tenured in a language department-50%
  • Staff Coordinator-100%
  • Technology Consultant, professional staff line- 100%
  • Director of Language Resource Center, professional staff line-100%
  • System Administrator, professional staff line- 100%
  • Program Staff Coordinator in the LRC-50%
  • Lecturers: twenty-one, in different languages; full-time and part-time
  • Student Assistants: primarily in the LRC, part-time


  • The Directorship of the Center for Language Studies is a part-time position. The director is chosen from among the members and has an appointment in another University unit.
  • The Associate Director of the Center is full time and is responsible for administering and managing all Center activities. He/she also works with members in the development of grant proposals. He or she may teach one course.
  • The Administrative Assistant has primary responsibilities in office management.
  • The Coordinator of English for International Teaching Assistants designs, administers and participates in: the evaluation and placement of incoming students, course and course material development, teaching, and hiring and supervision of additional teaching faculty and undergraduate teaching assistant.
  • The Faculty in Hindi-Urdu design and teach all courses in Hindi-Urdu, design course materials, advise students with interests in South Asian languages and advise students with study abroad interests in South Asia.

The Language Resource Center (LRC) is a sub-unit of the Center for Language Studies.

  • The Director of the LRC, in collaboration with faculty with primary responsibilities in language teaching, establishes policies on the use of LRC resources, on the design of learning facilities and the purchase of appropriate equipment and media resources. He/she collaborates with language faculty in the development of grant proposals and supervises the staff of the LRC.
  • The Manager of Technical Services selects and purchases all new computer and media hardware, supervises the installation and maintenance of hardware and the maintenance of all software through the supervision of undergraduate lab assistants.. He/she collaborates with faculty in the development of computer and multimedia learning resources. He/she is the primary liaison with Brown University's Center for Information Technology.
  • The Coordinator of the Language Resource Center manages and supervises the daily operations of the LRC. He or she schedules class and individual use of the LRC facilities, purchases media software recommended by the faculty and manages undergraduate assistants who edit, duplicate and circulate resources to students.

The Language Center functions with a

  • Faculty Director,
  • Assistant Director and Data Manager, and
  • an Administrative Assistant.

The load on this staff of three is significant.

The Director has responsibility for all dimensions of the first- and second-year programs (85% if the enrollment throughout the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages). This responsibility entails curricular oversight, all budgeting details, the hiring and evaluating of staff, monitoring the development of teaching assistants, as well as playing the role of liaison with the campus community. The Director also teaches one undergraduate and one graduate course per year.

The Assistant Director is charged with maintaining all records regarding placement and testing involving the language requirement; with collating and reporting all preliminary and final enrollment data; with coordinating all credit transfers; and with compiling all teaching evaluation data. The Assistant Director also has responsibility for coordinating all dimensions of placement testing during Freshmen Orientation.

In addition to handling all administrative details (such as maintaining all professional development accounts for 47 lecturers; keeping the Director's calendar; arranging all meetings, gatherings, and special events for the Language Center), the Administrative Assistant schedules all language courses for the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. This charge entails interacting regularly with the full-time teaching staff and monitoring more than 300 language sections per year.


Difficult to say what the staff of the LRC will be since we are in the process of creating it. Currently the Humanities Media Center which will be replaced with the LRC is staffed by a

  • Director,
  • Associate Director,
  • three full time staff members (with minimal analog technology knowledge),
  • and 20+ work-study and casual employees hires on a seasonal basis.

  At its inception the CLS was a separate unit from the Language Lab, which has been in place since 1962, but as of July 1999 the Language Lab has become a unit of the CLS;  right now we occupy separate facilities, but gradually over the next two years we will consolidate functionalities and move into contiguous spaces. 

  • The CLS has a full-time Director and is now conducting a search for a newf ull-time
  • Director of Language Technology Resources who will be simultaneously Deputy Director of the CLS.   (The Language Lab previously had a half-time directorship held jointly with a half-time language teaching appointment.)
  • The CLS has a full-time Administrative Coordinator, who oversees the work of
  • two Administrative Assistants, one for the CLS and one for the Language Lab. 
  • The CLS also has a full-time Assistant Director for Technology and a full-time position (jointly funded by the CLS and Academic Media & Technology) designated to create full computing support and documentation for all Yale's languages on faculty desk-tops, student computing clusters, the campus network, and the Language Lab, for word-processing, printing, e-mail, and web browsing. 
  • In August 2000 the CLS will have a half-time senior lector to direct the new program in Directed Independent Language Study.  
  • The Language Lab also has a half-time appointment (of a senior lector in a language) as a Multimedia Materials and Systems Developer, one full-time and one half-time technician, and student staff.


Question 7) What kind of appointment do you as director have? -- i.e., faculty? administrative? departmental affiliation?

The director is a .5 faculty appointment, with the other .5 in a 'home' department.

University of Pennsylvania
I as director am standing faculty, appointed in South Asia Regional Studies (SARS), where I am "Professor of Dravidian Linguistics and Culture." I was also "Luce Professor of Language Learning" for 5 years, but the Luce grant was not renewed. I work 25% time for the PLC, 75% teaching load. (Actually I work more than 25% time, but that's not what the record shows.)*

Brigham Young
I currently occupy the positions of Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Director of the Center for Language Studies. I also teach one graduate linguistics course each semester. My departmental affiliation is in linguistics. I anticipate that when my term as Associate Dean ends, the director will have department head status.

I am a tenured faculty member in the German department and was appointed as the first director of the Rice CSL, which is a primarily administrative function. I teach one course per semester, usually a graduate course on Methodology (also required of all new lecturers) and an undergraduate course in the German curriculum. My appointment expires in 2003. It is my understanding that the newly hired applied linguists in French, German, or Spanish will take over the leadership of CSL on a rotating basis.

The Directorship of the Center for Language Studies rotates among all CLS members, both those with primary appointments in the Center and affiliated members with primary appointments in other departments. His or her appointment status depends on the primary appointment.

I have a faculty appointment at the full professor level.

I have an administrative appointment.

 I have a full-time administrative appointment (initial appointment five years, renewable), and am also Adjunct Professor of Linguistics. 

Background Information

"Battling Babel"
By Mark Alden Branch

© 1998, the Yale Alumni Magazine (April issue)

As the language needs of Yale students change with the times, the University prepares to better coordinate foreign-language instruction.

On any given day, in rooms across the Yale campus, students and teachers are speaking in Spanish, chatting in Chinese, pontificating in Polish, yakking in Yoruba, and otherwise making themselves heard in as many as 48 languages. The sound of foreign tongues at Yale, of course, is nothing new. But the languages that are studied-and the reasons for doing so-are constantly shifting.

Scholars still learn Greek, Latin, French, and German as a base for literary studies, but they are joined increasingly by those whose interests lie in the social sciences or other areas. And as "globalization" makes language study ever more critical, Yale is launching a Center for Language Study that will bring together language teachers from nine language and literature departments, the linguistics department, and the graduate and professional schools, to share common concerns and resources.

"The existing state of language study at Yale is like the world after the Tower of Babel," says Yale College dean Richard Brodhead. "Everything is restricted by departments. The people teaching Spanish in the medical school have had no contact with the Spanish department."

The new center, funded in part by a $1.3-million grant from the Mellon Foundation, should improve the situation. When a director is hired later this spring, he or she will coordinate the allocation of resources and head up efforts both to improve language-teaching technology and promote communication among language instructors about pedagogy.

The director will find at Yale a community of language learners that differs sharply from that of 50 years ago, when the study of great literature was virtually the only reason to teach languages in a university setting. But now, with Yale's global emphasis growing, language study has taken on a new importance as a means of understanding nations and cultures.

"The number of forms of study that require foreign languages is huge," says Brodhead. "It includes literature, politics and international relations, history, law, management, and environmental studies. The educated person is under more obligation than ever to know foreign languages."

Some of the most important new initiatives in language instruction, in fact, have emerged not from the University's language and literature departments but from the Center for International and Area Studies and its area-studies councils. The center has helped establish new programs to aid scholars with international interests and less-common language needs. For example, the Southeast Asian Studies Committee, which includes representatives from the anthropology, political science, and history departments, was the driving force behind the reintroduction of Indonesian courses at Yale in 1989. The Committee funded the courses during a start-up phase until the department of East Asian languages and literatures took over. Similarly, the East Asian Studies Council funds tutorials for students needing instruction in specific dialects, and the Russian and East European Studies Council helped fund the introduction of Polish courses in 1988. Such assistance is crucial to programs in languages that do not have a large academic or literary following in this country.

The constituency for such languages includes graduate students and, increasingly, professional students as well. "There was always a smattering of interest in languages in the professional schools, but now it's really growing," says YCIAS assistant director Helen Ruther, who is on the committee that will help shape the new center. The School of Medicine has been offering its own classes in Spanish so that doctors will be able to communicate in what is rapidly becoming an important second American language. And the increasingly global interests of students in the Schools of Management, Law, and Forestry and Environmental Studies has created a demand for all kinds of specialized language instruction.

While these developments represent a shift, they are not entirely without precedent. Yale emphasized pragmatic language teaching in the 19th century when it was training missionaries for work overseas, and World War II and its aftermath brought a new interest in languages for defense.

Other new language customers are looking not necessarily to where they are going, but to where they came from. The growing diversity of the Yale student body has resulted in a demand by undergraduates for instruction in the languages of their ethnic backgrounds. It was through the efforts of Jewish students, for example, that courses in modern Hebrew were added to the curriculum in the 1970s. While ancient or biblical Hebrew-studied mostly as part of a Christian education-has been part of Yale's curriculum since the 1700s, the modern language had until recently been offered only briefly at the turn of the 20th century. "Hebrew is our success story," says Near East Languages chair Benjamin Foster. "It's really owing to the undergraduates 100 percent that we have this program." Students often take the courses to prepare for travel or study in Israel.

More recently, students of Korean and Indian heritage have called for instruction in their nations' languages. "The Korean student body helped to bring back Korean," says East Asian Languages and Literatures chair Edward Kamens, who also chairs the committee for the new Center for Language Study, "both because it is their heritage language and because it is a new economic power." Introduced in 1990, the program in Korean has expanded to a three-year sequence, with over 100 students enrolled. But Kamens says the program, which is offered in the East Asian Languages and Literatures department, is difficult to sustain without related literature or cultural studies courses. There is only one full-time faculty member teaching Korean, and since there is no graduate program, the department must find language instructors among Korean graduate students in other programs.

Members of Yale's undergraduate South Asian Society (SAS) have been lobbying the University in recent years to provide courses in Hindi, the third most common language in the world. But the group has not yet been able to raise the $30,000 needed for a two-year sequence of instruction, which is the minimum needed for the courses to fulfill Yale's language requirement. In the meantime, a small band of students-about two-thirds of them of Indian descent-arranged for an independent study course last fall through the linguistics department. The course was taught by a researcher from the School of Medicine who volunteered his time. But SAS leaders say they will continue to press the University to provide formal instruction in Hindi.

Even with established languages such as Chinese, Spanish, and Italian, there is an increasing number of students signing up to learn the languages of their parents or grandparents. "Americans of Italian descent are rediscovering their heritage," says Italian chairman Paolo Valesio. "Their families may not have spoken Italian growing up, or they have spoken a zone dialect. Italians are very sensitive to accent and class, like the British, and many immigrants didn't want to teach zone dialects to their children." Now those children are turning to Valesio's department when they want to explore their culture.

There are even special introductory courses in Chinese, Russian, and Spanish for students who grew up hearing and speaking those languages at home but whose formal education has been in English. After they become proficient in reading and writing, they join students who have had more conventional introductions for advanced courses.

But while ethnic pride and globalization have undoubtedly had an impact on language enrollment, the biggest boon for language departments has been the institution of an undergraduate language requirement beginning with the Class of 1987. Total registrations in language courses have risen by 20 percent since the requirement was put in place. While enrollment in many languages shot up initially as a result of the requirement, the most lasting and dramatic growth has been in Spanish, where course registrations have doubled since 1983.

 The most obvious reason for such a rush to Spanish is its increasing usefulness in the United States. But Spanish department chair Maria Rosa Menocal thinks that's only part of the picture. "I believe that a Yale undergraduate who chooses to take Spanish is not taking it for purely pragmatic reasons," says Menocal. "A very high percentage of those students are doing so because of a very important shift in the prestige of the Spanish literary tradition." She cites Yale's reputation as a powerhouse in Latin-American literature and the explosion of literary interest in such authors as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The other program that has sustained dramatic growth in the last several years is Chinese. Enrollment in Chinese hovered in the 200s until 1994-95, when it started a rapid climb to 403 course registrations last year. The reasons are not entirely clear, but the combination of Chinese-American students interested in their heritage and students looking to business opportunities in China has surely played a part. Japanese enjoyed a similarly sharp rise in the 1980s, when Japan's economy was strong, but enrollment has since declined slowly.

The gains in Spanish and Chinese (and, to a lesser extent, Italian) have occurred alongside a slide in enrollments in French and German, the modern languages closest to the traditional academic's heart. (In 1989, Spanish overtook French as the most subscribed language.) French chair Christopher Miller says that his department's enrollment is "lower than 20 years ago. It's no longer the case that French is implicitly required for every person of culture." But in contrast to national statistics, which show French in sharp decline, Yale's numbers have stabilized at around 1,000 course registrations.

 "We've been having small increases in the last few years," says Miller. "We feel we're in good shape." He attributes the department's relative good health to its strong reputation and to the growth of interest in Francophone literature from Africa and the Caribbean.

The German department began seeing its numbers drop after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, from a high of 724 course registrations in 1990-91 to 437 last year. Similarly, enrollment in Russian classes, which peaked at 501 toward the Cold War's end in 1986-87, fell to 294 by last year. In both cases, world events seem to have affected demand-students no longer imagined doing battle with the Soviet Bloc in foreign service or intelligence careers.

 So what does a language department do when faced with such declines? "It meant we had to restructure ourselves and focus on why Russian culture is worthy of study," says Slavic Languages chairman Harvey Goldblatt. "It forced us to think about ways to attract more students. Our numbers are now on the increase, and we have increased enrollments, particularly in the larger survey courses taught in English."

 Such courses as the interdisciplinary "Russian Culture: The Modern Age" amount to a repositioning of the department as a source not just of language instruction and literary study, but more generally of Slavic culture, including history, politics, and sociology.

The department that has gone furthest in this area is German, which under former chair Cyrus Hamlin developed a new undergraduate major called German Studies. The major includes an introductory course on "German culture and thought," required courses in German language and literature, and a choice of related courses from other departments such as history, linguistics, music, philosophy, and sociology.

 "The older model was no longer viable," says Hamlin. "This is a way of getting students who are committed to the German language but whose academic interests are not in literature to be able to make a major of it."

 New chair Brigitte Peucker says the German Studies major was developed not because of falling enrollments but in response to the growing influence of cultural studies in universities across the nation. "The junior faculty we've been hiring are ideally suited for German Studies, because it's what's being taught in universities now."

 To some extent, German Studies resembles the Classics department's Classical Civilization major-a 30-year-old interdisciplinary course of study that combines Greek and Roman history, philosophy, and literature. Former Classics chair Heinrich Von Staden says that the Classical Civilization major helped save classics when students were beginning to bow out of the Classics major because of its stiff language requirements. Today, Classical Civilization includes a number of tremendously popular lecture courses, such as "The Age of Pericles" and Jerome Pollitt's "Introduction to Greek Art."

"The popular courses taught in English draw in a lot of students, and many of them find they want to take Latin or Greek as a result," says Von Staden. But unlike Classical Civilization, German Studies has language requirements every bit as stringent as the traditional German major.

Other departments are keeping an eye on German Studies and considering developing interdisciplinary courses of study that will interest students who aren't drawn in by the promise of reading Goethe, Proust, or Dante in the original tongues.

"We are seriously discussing an Italian Studies major," says Paolo Valesio, "and we are looking at German Studies as a model. It would likely include courses in history, political science, and the history of art." As alternatives to conventional literature courses, Valesio has already introduced a course in short story writing in Italian and a series of culturally-based courses on Italian cities.

French's Christopher Miller is less convinced. "We've gone a certain distance toward an interdisciplinary major, but our main focus is still literature," he says. "We've made adjustments, but we have enough students. We don't want to fix something that isn't broken."

What does need fixing, department heads and administrators agree, is the lack of communication and coordination among the University's many language instruction programs. Those who teach languages occupy a curious place both in their departments and in the University community. Usually, they are junior faculty or, more often, graduate students or "lectors" who are not part of the "ladder faculty" structure and are sometimes left out of decision-making. Moreover, says Edward Kamens, "language teaching and learning is often treated in departments as a secondary activity of lesser importance than the teaching of literature and training of graduate students."

The Center for Language Study is intended to help remedy that situation by creating what committee member Maria Rosa Menocal calls "a second community for language teachers.

"Departments can become very vertical, talking only to each other," explains Menocal. "The language-teaching core is boxed into this vertical shaft. The role of the language director would be to make it possible for people across language communities to talk to each other. It would say that language instruction was a different but equally valuable part of a department."

The Center will accomplish this part of its mission by sponsoring seminars and colloquia where instructors can share ideas and methods that might be applicable to other languages. Or, as the proposal for the Mellon Foundation grant put it: "The Center will create a place where language-acquisition issues are the important issues, not menial prologues to what is 'really interesting.'"

Another important role of the Center and its director will be to consider what languages are being taught and which ones might be added. "Right now, there is no structure in place to decide the criteria for offering courses in languages that are not presently part of the curriculum-considering cost, threshold number, whether there are sufficient courses in related subjects," says Kamens. "Nobody can carefully work through these questions and make decisions that create lasting solutions."

Benjamin Foster puts it more bluntly. "There needs to be a place where these things are discussed free of money and turf issues," he says. It is hoped that the new director of foreign language instruction, who will report to the provost, will be able to make informed decisions about the allocation of language resources and identify opportunities for greater efficiency.

Among those opportunities, unquestionably, is technology. The information revolution offers an array of new ways to learn languages beyond the reel-to-reel drill tapes of the language lab of yore. CD-ROMs and videos hold great promise as tools for improving language skills, and educators are looking to the Internet as a possible means of linking universities for collaborative efforts at teaching languages with small demand.

Brodhead and Kamens both stress that the Center should not be perceived as a threat to the sovereignty of language and literature departments, a reasonable concern in a time when some universities-including Cornell-have removed language-instruction courses from their parent departments and put them into new "modern language" departments. "Yale does not believe in breaking elementary language instruction off from the higher uses that such instruction leads toward," said Brodhead when the Mellon Foundation grant was announced. "On the other hand… the new approach will improve our ability to address common issues of language study while also strengthening preparation for more advanced programs."

In other words, if things go according to plan, the new Center will insure that in the future, instructors who teach over 40 different tongues are, on some level, speaking the same language.


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