Thursday, March 17, 2011

Languages: Humanities or Communications?

Dear fellow lovers of foreign languages and cultures,

traditionally, language courses have been listed in course requirements under the rubric of Humanities. Do you think that should remain the way it is, or would it make more sense to list such courses under the rubric of Information and Communication? I'm only talking about language courses, not literature.

I'll be grateful to anybody who expresses themselves on this subject. This isn't just academic to me. It's a very important decision we will be making at my department, and I'd like to hear different arguments on the subject.

Thank you!


fairykarma said...

Considering the low number of individuals that actually reach fluency, I would say just stick to Humanities.

Language learning takes way more time than most people think. It goes way beyond listening to "interactive" tapes and doing textbook exercises. Considering the amount of time I put in every day on just Spanish, the supposedly "easy" language, I don't think we need to torture any more departments other than Humanities with a skill they'll likely never pick up.

People who have the tenacity to the conquer a language will sooner or later find themselves taking language courses or teaching themselves. Bureaucratic pressure on having more students take language courses doesn't exactly produce stellar results when it comes to fluency. Hell, I really wish the people make these decisions in the first place were all bilingual. Taste the medicine before administering it to thousands of students.

Clarissa said...

I couldn't agree more about the bureacratic pressures. Such pressures are the only reason I'm asking this question. Tomorrow, instead of planning my classes or doing research, I'll spend hours with my collagues deciding which category we should assign our courses. Obviously, this will not improve the quality of our teaching or help anybody.

Spanish is Spanish, why should I care what it's categorized as?

Anonymous said...

I would stick to the Humanities. What we learn in a language class goes weel beyond a rubric such as "Information and communication."


Pagan Topologist said...

I tried to post here yesterday, but it dod not work. Try to get approved as a business course. Most people who need to use foreign languages will use them for business purposes, and business departments tend to be over-funded, so it will help your program a lot. (My cynicism is showing today.)

Clarissa said...

We've missed you, David. How did the conference go?

We will have an endless meeting today classifying all of our courses according to some complicated and weird table some administrator came up with. This does not make me happy.

Pagan Topologist said...

I am still at the conference. They have a student computer lab we can use. I love topology confedrences; this one is no exception.