New languages added to curriculum in response to education trends

The Bradley Foreign Language Department recently began offering two new language programs, Arabic and Chinese, in addition to its already established Hebrew, French, German and Spanish programs.

Chinese was first offered as a two-year sequence in fall 2011. Chinese 101 is offered in the fall, and Chinese 102 in the spring. During the following academic year, Chinese 201 is offered in the fall and Chinese 202 in the spring.

Arabic was first offered in fall 2012. It follows the same two-year sequence as the Chinese program.

Both the Arabic and Chinese two-year programs fulfill a student’s Bachelor of Arts foreign language requirement.

The approval process for Arabic and Chinese courses at Bradley took approximately a year of work, according to Foreign Languages Department Chair Leslie Sconduto.

“New courses had to be created and sent as proposals for approval through the various levels of the curriculum and review process,” Sconduto said. “This took about eight to nine months for each new language, in addition to the upfront time for research.”

While French, Spanish and German remain popular language choices for students, constantly shifting education trends caused Bradley to strive to make students more competitive by offering two new language programs.

“Trends in education are constantly changing,” French professor Alexander Hertich said.  “China has become a major economic and political power.”

Hertich also said current issues with the Arabic language made the course more desirable.

“Since 9/11, the focus of Americans has moved to a part of the world that was almost completely unknown before,” he said.

Bradley is not the only university to add such programs during the past few years. According to a Modern Language Association of America report published in 2009, enrollment in Arabic courses in the United States increased 46 percent from 2006 to 2009. Enrollment in Chinese courses increased 18 percent during that same time period.

The language courses offered at Bradley seek to include instruction beyond the language. The department uses them as cultural courses too, Hertich said, allowing students to gain an understanding of the elements that compliment the language.

“Studying another language is more than just studying vocabulary and grammar,” Hertich said. “It is also a study of culture and literature, which leads to a deeper understanding of both individual societies and our world as a whole.”

Student interest and funding will dictate whether the programs expand beyond the current two-year sequence.

Freshman industrial engineering major Ali Almullaali, who is from Kuwait, learned Arabic as a first language. He said he thinks the languages will help Bradley students.

“I think it important for Bradley to offer these languages because it helps students learn about different countries,” Almullaali said. “Some of my friends from Kuwait say that their colleges in the United States offer Arabic already.”