Some Students to get language rule changes

Brianne Fleming, Staff Writer

Two Pitt-Johnstown professors said they consider foreign language classes to be a valuable addition to a student’s education and post graduation success.

As of this year, new freshmen Humanities Division majors and transfers are required to take two foreign language classes. Those majors include professional writing, journalism and theater.

Humanities students previously had the option of taking either a foreign language to the second intermediated level or three literature-in-translation courses. New, communication majors still have the choice of taking either option to fulfill the requirement.

Humanities Division Chair Patty Derrick said communication department professors felt there was a need to preserve flexibility for students rather than require all new students to take two foreign language courses.

“They did not want to force their majors into (the two-course) requirement,” Derrick said.

Derrick said, although communication majors still have the option, many may still choose to take a language course.

“I’ve seen an increase in enrollment in foreign language classes,” she said, “and they (the students) aren’t necessarily Humanities majors.”

According to Derrick, there are nine new freshmen communication majors and an additional 14 new Humanities Division students this semester who will be affected by the new requirement.

“I believe we live in a global economy and community now,” Derrick said. “(Foreign language classes) give students an advantage when applying for jobs.”

Derrick said she thinks the Spanish language is rapidly spreading and will soon be the predominant second language in the U.S.

She also said the discipline required to learn another language is valuable to students.

“(It is useful) to learn how a language is put together,” Derrick said. “It improves a student’s critical and analytical thinking processes.”

Derrick said UPJ foreign language professors are happy to have more students and bigger classes overall.

Pitt-Johnstown Spanish and Latin American literature associate professor Alvaro Bernal said the administrators have made it clear that global aptitude should be emphasized to students.

“Because of demographic changes in our country, Spanish, for example, is becoming essential in many professions,” Bernal said. “We need our community to be aware of other cultures in the world.”

Bernal said, learning a different language is a resume-builder.

“Our students need to be aware of intercultural communication,” he said. “Speaking a foreign language is a plus in any profession.”