New program promotes study of modern languages

Natasha Breu

A student-led program teaches high school and college students about the importance of modern languages with the hope of keeping programs at WKU.

Modern Languages Ambassadors is a new program geared toward WKU students with a major or minor in modern languages and seeks to increase enrollment in students studying languages such as Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, German and Japanese.

Noah Moore, a sophomore majoring in Arabic, Spanish and Public Relations, started the program to specifically target high school students. He said he wants to interact personally with different high schools in the community and promote the benefits of studying a modern language.

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His plan is to have two ambassadors per language who will inform high school and WKU students about different programs such as tabling and outreach events in order to spark interest among those unsure of what they would like to study.

Moore said with the recent budget cuts, the future of modern languages at WKU could be in jeopardy if there is not enough enrollment in the department.

Additionally, the requirement for students to take language courses was eliminated in December for students who took a language course in high school. In the time since the requirement was eliminated, there has been a decrease in enrollment in language courses.

In August, the Herald reported the French major would no longer be offered after fall 2021. The major was cut after low enrollment.

The inspiration for this program came from Moore’s time spent as a Spanish counselor at the Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, Minnesota. He spent the summer instructing 8 to 13-year-old children in Spanish and said he got to know the value of modern languages and the different ways they can be learned.

“I wondered how I could take this experience and mold it into something that lasts a while and is important and prevalent for our campus,” Moore said.

Moore said he’s had support from professors in the modern languages department such as department head Laura McGee, Susann Davis, the modern languages academic adviser and Lhousseine Guerwane, an Arabic instructor.

McGee said with the ambassador program, students have the opportunity to create a community of students dedicated to language learning. She said studying a language is not just learning grammar but learning about and communicating with other cultures.

“I think the ambassadors are also going to be a student-to-student voice about study abroad and knowledge of a world language as a real career advancement,” McGee said.

McGee said she hopes the lasting effect of this program is to encourage more students to study abroad and help them realize its possibilities.

Modern Languages Ambassadors will have meetings twice a month where ambassadors will come up with tasks and assignments students may sign up for in order to get involved with the program. There will be a meet and greet Oct. 16 for students to learn about the different languages offered at WKU.

Applications to be an ambassador or to fill the Director of Communications position are open until Sunday, Oct. 7 at 11:59 p.m. Flyers are available in the modern languages office in FAC with instructions on how to access the application, along with posters across campus containing a QR code linking to the application.

News reporter Natasha Breu can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow Natasha on Twitter @nnbreu.