New center responds to language needs

By Cindy Retamozo

The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the School of Professional and Continuing Studies (SPCS) have collaborated to create the newly founded World of Languages Center, a program that aims to enhance the learning of foreign languages at Northeastern.

Dennis Cokely, director of the American Sign Language (ASL) Department and interim chair of the Modern Languages Department, said the program developed out of student demand. Cokely said the number of students enrolling in foreign language classes has increased by 96 percent since 2000.

The reason for this dramatic increase in such a short time period was due to recent events like the September 11 attacks, which have sparked an interest for learning the perspectives of other cultures, he said,

“The only way to understand another person is to learn the language and culture of that person,” Cokely said.

By July 1 of this year, eight new full-time faculty members will be employed as a part of World of Languages. There will be two new professors each for Italian, Japanese and Spanish and one each for French and Chinese. The number of sections for classes in languages will also increase by 20-25 percent, Cokely said.

Sophomore Spanish major Mike Barnaby said he has had trouble in the past enrolling for classes that fulfill his major requirements. Barnaby said he feels the World Languages program will be good for foreign language majors.

“I think it’s a great idea and I completely support it,” he said. “The modern language department is definitely going in the right direction.”

In addition, the program will offer two new languages: Brazilian Portuguese and Swahili. Cokely said this is the first time Northeastern is offering courses that teach an African language.

Also involved with World of Languages are executive board members from the Modern Languages Club, Northeastern University Cultural and Language Learning Society (NUCALLS) and the Interpreting Club. Junior international affairs and political science major Michael DeRamo is one of the founders of NUCALLS, a group that offers peer teaching of foreign languages.

NUCALLS was founded last year in response to the dissatisfaction with the modern languages program, DeRamo said. The group is thrilled with World of Languages because it achieves what they have been striving for, he said.

“We’re very proud and very excited,” he said. “It shows that NU students are aware of the world and it’s a victory for us because the school is being responsive to student demand.”

Freshman international business major Luis Teller is currently working toward a minor in Spanish. Teller said he feels the World of Languages program is beneficial because of the diversity at Northeastern.

“It’s a good thing given the circumstances of the diversity here,” he said. “It’s a much needed step toward international relations.”

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