Learning a New Language

Students utilize the Language Learning Laboratory and Research Center, located in Room 19 of the Classical and Modern Languages and Literature building, for a foreign language class. Global Readiness Through Languages and Culture will help students, such as these, learn about the importance of a second language.

The Texas Tech Center for Global Communication awarded an internal grant of $40,000 to the Tech Classical and Modern Languages and Literature department for this school year. The grant will be used to enhance global communications education for undergraduates through different programs and activities.

Alec Cattell, assistant professor of practice of humanities and applied linguistics and German, said the grant money will go towards bringing guest speakers to Tech, providing scholarship opportunities to students and providing training for language instructors to get certified to administer the Intercultural Development Inventory assessment on campus.

Global Readiness Through Languages and Culture is a two-year interdisciplinary initiative Cattell said is aimed at helping educate students learn about the utility and necessity of learning a foreign language in today’s globalized world.

“It’s really just about making explicit what we’ve always done, but it just seems that the outside world doesn’t know it,” Cattell said.

The initiative will also be emphasizing other ways in which enrolling in a language can benefit students.

Associate Chair of CMLL Charles A. Grair said students in language courses learn a lot of skills, such as critical thinking and culture and communication skills, not just language proficiency. He said Global Readiness Through Language and Culture can help students become aware of these skills.

“We don’t always make them as aware as we should of the skills they’re acquiring,” Grair said. “You can’t get a license for critical thinking, but that’s what we specialize in. You’re not just learning how to order food in a French restaurant, but acquiring a host of other skills as well.”

Cattell said the initiative will try to achieve its goal in two main ways: bringing in guest speakers to talk about the utility of languages in their careers and in life and requiring a project from every student that will push them to demonstrate their knowledge on a particular subject related to the language they study.

This project will also provide students with an opportunity to create an e-portfolio on Blackboard, Cattell said. Every semester, students will do a new project that is centered around global challenges related to population, resources, technology, information, economics, conflict and governance. 

In addition to the e-portfolio, Cattell said this project will be used to measure the success of the Global Readiness Through Language and Culture Initiative by quantifying the other skills that come with taking language courses.

Some students may already be excited and to see how useful the Global Readiness Through Language and Culture Project can be for them in the future.

Gabby Perez, a junior biology major from Victoria, said the e-portfolio will be useful, as grades are not the only thing that separates students.

“Any kind of extra skill that you can kind of brag about and write about on an application will help you,” she said.

Regarding her future career, Perez, who is minoring in Russian and taking part in Tech Army Reserve Officer Training Corps, said an e-portfolio could help with getting into medical school and in her future career as an army officer.

She said ROTC sends students abroad on diplomatic-type missions, and a cadet is more likely to be selected to go if they have some experience abroad or knowledge of the area and culture.

“If you have a background knowledge of different cultures or a desire to learn about these cultures, you’ll be more likely to go on to do diplomatic missions to different countries to build relations for the U.S.,” Perez said. “I think it’ll be something that my competitors won’t have on their applications.”

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