Scranton 1 of 4 Jesuit Universities Without Language Requirement

 Scranton 1 of 4 Jesuit Universities Without Language Requirement

by Jordan Toohey | Staff Writer

SCRANTON – The University of Scranton’s World Languages and Cultures Department houses numerous language programs and courses, none of which are a requirement for students.

The department is located in O’Hara Hall and offers programs in Hispanic Studies, French and Francophone Studies, International Language-Business, Italian, and Classical Studies. It also includes five majors as well as 10 minors in languages including Russian, Japanese, and Arabic.

The department said it also sponsors faculty-led study abroad opportunities to Italy, Mexico, Spain, and Peru to allow students to improve their proficiency in a world language.

Laura Freedman, World Language Center graduate assistant, explained that learning a new language provides numerous opportunities for personal and social growth.

“You never know when you are going to use it, who you are going to meet and what experience you’ll have,” Freedman said.

Department Chair of the World Languages and Cultures Department, Yamile Silva, Ph.D., associate professor, noted that English is not the only language on the earth.

“To pretend that English is the only language that is spoken around the world is a linguistic provincialization,” Silva said.

Silva discussed the department’s commitment to service. She stated that the department teaches a class entitled “Service and Hispanic Communication,” a class designed to prepare students to volunteer as interpreters at the Leahy Clinic and other local charities.

“We think that language and social justice aren’t separate.” Silva said. “If you want to talk about social justice, you need to speak the language.”

Silva said she and the department are taking steps to bring about social change in the Scranton community.

Until the rule was revoked in 1970, a foreign language class was a graduation requirement for all students at the University. Junior Casey Welby, classical language major, said she wishes foreign language credits were more encouraged at the University, although not necessarily required like in the past.

“You can really learn so much, and not just about the language. You also learn about the culture of the country in which it’s spoken. However, if you have to force students into doing something, maybe they wouldn’t appreciate it as much as if they chose it on their own,” Welby said.

Neither Welby nor Freedman were in favor of reinstating the language requirement at the University. Silva said re-establishing a language general education requirement is a goal of hers.

“Out of 24 Jesuit institutions around the country, only four of them don’t have a language requirement,” Silva said. “Scranton is one of them.”

While she is not in favor of reimplementing a language requirement at the University, Freedman spoke highly of the department, its faculty members, and its resources. Some of these include drop in tutoring and drop-in conversation hours.

“It’s really interesting learning a new language,” Freedman said. “You’re learning the language, but you’re also learning things about your own language, learning perspectives people may have, and realizing just how difficult learning another language is. I have a new appreciation for people who go out on a limb, try to learn a new language, and try to speak it.”

For more information about the World Languages and Cultures Department, contact Yamile Silva at yamile.silva@scranton.edu.