Bush calls for more language funding


    TCU could see new foreign language classes implemented into the curriculum if students demonstrate a genuine interest in learning new languages, said Mary Volcansek , dean of AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences.In his budget proposal for the 2007 fiscal year, President Bush requested $114 million for the study of foreign languages, with most of that money coming through the State and Education departments for the National Security Language Initiative.

    The Department of State officials stressed the need for more people to master Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi and Farsi languages because they are critical to national security and cultural understanding.

    Carrie Sickmann , a modern languages and literatures student adviser, said any expansion in the department could benefit the TCU population and increase TCU’s capabilities to create a global community.

    “The Chinese language is becoming especially prominent in the business world today,” Sickmann said. “I believe that TCU students should have the opportunity to study the language and culture of this society that is growing so rapidly.”

    Sickmann said the modern languages and literatures department could use additional money to create awareness of the variety of languages and cultures among all of TCU’s students, not just those majoring or minoring in language.

    Volcansek said TCU has offered a Chinese course before, but only a few students enrolled.

    “Those languages take so much longer to reach proficiency,” Volcansek said. “We can’t afford faculty when there is no genuine student demand for those courses.”

    Another problem is that foreign languages “come in fads,” Volcansek said.

    German, French and Spanish will always be mainstream languages, but German and French are not offered as majors anymore because few students enrolled, Volcansek said.

    Volcansek said the majority of students tend to learn Spanish because they plan to stay in the Southwest.

    Sharon Fairchild , the modern languages and literatures department chairwoman , said the department is not currently planning to take on any additional languages.

    “We would love to include more languages, but the programmatic and budgetary commitments are quite heavy,” Fairchild said. “Such a decision would have to be made after considerable study.