Foreign languages major to get new name

There will be a few changes in foreign languages at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Whether students say “hola” or “konnichiwa,” starting in fall 2011, incoming students will earn a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages with a concentration rather than a specifically named bachelor’s degree. The change does not affect students already in the program.

Beth Eckelkamp, associate teaching professor in the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Languages, said the renaming and restructuring of the major is a good thing.

“We will be able to be more creative in designing both majors and minors and we’ll be able to add more languages more easily,” she said. “We also will be able to collaborate more with other degree programs.”

In addition to students majoring in a language, the foreign languages office serves those who minor in a language and fulfill requirements for College of Arts and Sciences programs, as well as many business and education majors.

“We have a very healthy enrollment in our classes,” Eckelkamp said. “And students have many great resources right here on campus.”

These resources include the sponsorship of native speakers who tutor in the classrooms, excellent learning labs with some of the best language learning software in the state and one-on-one instruction from faculty.

Eckelkamp pointed out that foreign language is an important part of education that not only can give a student an edge in an ever-globalized business world, but also improves critical thinking skills.

“Learning a language has a real intellectual value,” Eckelkamp said. “And it gives you an understanding of different cultures. If you learn a language you learn the culture of that language as well.”

The foreign languages office is housed in the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Languages, which is another advantage, she said.

“It puts us in a unique position to give our students a full global experience,” Eckelkamp said.

The proposed name change will go through the UMSL Curriculum and Instruction Committee, then the Faculty Senate and will need to be approved by the UM System and by the Department of Higher Education.

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