Learning a second language goes beyond mastering sentence structure, conjugating verbs, or studying a new orthography. Learning a new language means learning a new culture as well.
That recognition was among the motivations for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures to pursue a name change to the School of Languages and Cultures, which was recently approved by the Board of Trustees.
"'Cultures' is much more overarching than 'literatures,' because it covers linguistics, films, art, philosophy, and business, which are included in our curricula," says Adrian DelCaro, professor and head of the school.
A few decades ago, students either majored in language or related literatures. Today, more than half of the school's 250 undergraduate majors are majoring in linguistics. In addition, more than 900 students are earning minors from the school, and many of these students represent programs across campus.
The school, which is home to the study of 12 languages, also offers course options in English for students who want to learn about cultures even if they don't know the language. Students can study Latin American women writers, Italian cinema, or the classics. Classes on business practice and etiquette specific to cultures such as Arabic and Chinese are also popular.
"If students enroll in an English-speaking course about French or German culture, then perhaps they will become interested in learning the language," says Del Caro.
Students such as Ryan Hoffman, Christina Dami Lee, and Bhimsupa Kulthanan (shown above), who are studying specific languages, also can benefit from language immersion programs. These students recently participated in Professor Becky Brown's "French Culture Through Food" class, which included a week studying in Roanne, France.