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FutureSTATE 2015 Progress Reports
ENHANCE STUDENT GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Initiative: Submit a request to receive funding and participate in the National Security Language Initiative by offering language and experiential learning opportunities related to Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi, and Farsi.
Achievements of the past year:
- When I started as Interim Department Head last summer I was not aware of FutureSTATE 2015 or the role the Department of Foreign Languages played in it. I was aware, however, of the need for developing languages - including the ones already established, the "Eurocentric" ones: Spanish, French and German. I soon became aware of a desperate need to expand Chinese and Japanese, two languages we are teaching, but in which we do not have a major. In the former we have a lecturer who just changed from one quarter time to full time, due to the great demand by the students for this language. In Japanese, we have had one Instructor who has been doing an impressive job serving a large group of students who have been taking Japanese for several years, some of whom are nearing graduation.
- I have also been in touch with ROTC, principally through Lt. Col. Terry Dickensheet. As Lt. Col Dickensheet has pointed out, we are losing potential students in ROTC because we do not offer majors in Chinese, Russian, Japanese, etc. I asked our search committee to be looking for someone who also had any of these languages along with the languages for which searches had been approved (in Spanish and French). Unfortunately, this did not produce any "lagniappes" (Cajun for something extra for nothing) in any of the other languages. I have also asked Xiangshan Chi ("Sunshine"), our Chinese lecturer, to pursue the possibility of developing our own Chinese Language Flagship program. She has been in touch with the Director of China Initiatives at Jackson State University and is working with her in a joint initiative to receive funding for funding from the Language Flagship program and the Institute of International Education, and, for the time being, we are planning to send students to a summer program in China already developed by Jackson State.
- I have also asked Oksana Gilbo, currently a Master's student in French, but who is also a native Russian speaker (from St. Petersburg), to work on a similar initiative in Russian. Next Fall she will have the required number of hours to become a lecturer. In contact with ROTC, the History Department and the Reflector, we have gathered a list of students (8 at this point) who want to take Russian. I have also been in touch with David Sites, who used to teach Russian with us, and he has offered his assistance, if needed. Ms Gilbo has contacted the Language Flagship Program and they have responded. This effort, as well as the lecturer position in Chinese and the Instructor position in Japanese are all an extremely inexpensive way to begin these initiatives.
Goals for the next year:
I plan to develop the above mentioned initiatives, expanding, if possible, into the other languages mentioned in your request (Arabic, Hindi and Farsi). I hope to get majors in Chinese and Japanese. I hope to develop Russian to the point where we could also offer a major in this newly developing (in our department) field. We need to hire Professors in Chinese and Japanese.
Constraints to full implementation of this initiative:
Extremely limited to no staffing. A graduate student working on Russian. A new, full time lecturer in Chinese. An instructor in Japanese. Especially in the latter two languages, we must have professors in Chinese and Japanese. As you have seen with German, even with two professors and a lecturer, it is not easy to provide the necessary breadth of courses to have a major, much less to satisfy the different needs of IB, etc. We need, therefore, funding to hire professors in Chinese and Japanese, ideally two in each language.
Proposed modification of the initiative:
If we can get Hindi, Farsi and Arabic going, great. But we need to focus on Chinese and Japanese immediately and develop our program to the point that we can offer a major in the next year. Since Russian is already in progress, we also need to pursue this initiative. Since it is only beginning in the Fall (hopefully) and I have not promised majors to any students in this area, it does not require as immediate attention as do Chinese and Japanese.
Overall assessment of the status of the initiative or other comments:
Even with knowing about the FutureSTATE initiative, I believe I have done much in my first year as Interim Department Head of FL to achieve what I believe are its goals (we are also starting Italian I in the Fall which, though it is not mentioned in the initiative, does satisfy a clear demand on the part of the students). We the help of the above mentioned individuals, we have come a long way in less than one year. We have just begun.