The College of Charleston continues to be on the leading edge of language instruction as the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs expands its non-western language offerings for the fall 2011 semester. The school has added two new faculty, will offer Vietnamese language study, and has increased the number of credit hours offered for non-western language courses from three to four.

The College of Charleston offers 14 languages, the highest number of any institution in South Carolina. Non-western languages include Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Arabic, Hebrew and Vietnamese. According to the Modern Language Association, three non-western languages (Arabic, Korean and Chinese) are currently the fastest growing languages for student enrollment among U.S. universities. All non-western languages offered at the College, with the exception of Hebrew, are on the Department of Defense Strategic Language List.

“Our expansion of non-western languages is part of our commitment to giving students a broad-based international experience,” says Dean David Cohen of the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs. “Students who graduate with coursework in non-western languages are very likely to have jobs upon graduation and many work in an embassy or in a foreign country.”

Courses in non-western languages go beyond just reading, writing and speaking. Students gain perspective on culture and customs through language study. Chinese students participate in traditional Chinese tea ceremonies where they practice the language. Students in Hindi courses have an end-of-year dance performance and Arabic students host a food festival.

More than a dozen professors teach non-western languages at the College of Charleston, including new faculty members Piotr Gibas and Anne Higgins. Gibas received his Ph.D. in East Asian languages and cultures from the University of California, Berkeley. He has been teaching at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, for the past two years. Anne Higgins received her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, through the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Arabic/Islamics. She has been teaching Arabic language and literature at Wayne State University since 2007.

The decision to offer four credit hours for non-western languages is a recognition of the fact that it is more difficult to learn these languages than it is to learn western languages, which are based on the Latin and Greek alphabets.

For more information, contact David Cohen at 843.953.5770.