use summer grants to create their own foreign-language study
the Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article in
March on Drake University's decision to eliminate its foreign-language
departments and increase emphasis on study abroad, the letters
section overflowed. "Get real," wrote Marcela E.
Brusa-Daly, a lecturer in Spanish at the U of C. "Even
at a private university like the University of Chicago, a
large proportion of students still have to generate some income
for themselves.... Please do not create another economic divide
does a university bridge the economic divide and ensure that
students learning a language can converse intelligibly in
its native land? Answering that question has been a priority
for Dean of the College John W. Boyer, AM'69, PhD'75, who
in 1998 set the goal that at least one-third of each graduating
class attain fluency in a foreign language.
help students achieve this goal, Boyer's office provides Foreign
Language Acquisition Grants (FLAGs) for summer study. The
program gives students $2,000 to spend on an intensive eight-week
program at a language school in a country of their choosing.
Students must first complete a 103-level language course and
receive a recommendation by a language instructor. Interest
in the program has increased steadily since summer 1998, when
25 students received FLAGs. This summer, 70 of 100 applicants
received grants. In five years Boyer hopes to award 200 FLAGs
appealing for many students is the freedom they have in planning
their studies. In addition to typical destinations like France,
Spain, and Italy, students have enrolled in language schools
as far-flung as Hakodate, Japan; Chengdu, China; Sanaa, Yemen;
and Grenada, Nicaragua. Many will tack several weeks of travel
onto their eight-week schooling to put their tongues to the
test. Nels Frye, a second-year studying in China, will tour
the Szechuan Province, retracing the steps of characters in
his favorite Nintendo game and book, The Romance of the Three
Nicholas Tarasen is one of ten students using a FLAG to study
French in the University of Chicago Paris Program. This fall
Tarasen will take the examination for a proficiency certificate-and
that's music to Boyer's ears.
program launched in 1998, proficiency certificates require
two years of study and are noted on College transcripts. "We
hope students use the FLAG as a springboard toward the certificate,"
says Boyer. "It's a way for students who don't want to
concentrate in a language to demonstrate they can speak it."-S.A.S.