Professor: Demand doesn’t justify adding language programs

Only one language has been added to the university curriculum since the Student Government Association passed legislation two years ago supporting the expansion of foreign languages, the former chair of the department of foreign languages said.

Beginning and intermediate courses in Chinese were added to the catalog last fall.

Sharon Fairchild, professor of French and previous chair of the department of modern languages and literatures, said Chinese and Arabic were being considered at the same time. Fairchild said the languages department decided to add Chinese before Arabic, in consultation with Mary Volcansek, previous dean of the AddRan College of Liberal Arts.

“Chinese was introduced first because there was support and interest from the faculty and students in the Asian studies minor program,” she said.

In March 2006, the House of Student Representatives passed a resolution advocating the expansion of foreign language programs at the university, suggesting languages such as Latin, Russian, Chinese, Hindi, Farsi and Arabic be added to the curriculum.

Students can take courses in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Hebrew, Greek and Chinese.

Fairchild said the university offers beginning and intermediate Chinese courses along with culture and civilization courses to support the Asian Studies minor. The department would eventually like to see full-time Chinese, but enrollment needs to build up for Chinese to be taught by a full-time professor, she said.

There hasn’t been any further discussion as far as adding Arabic, Fairchild said.

“In order to teach a language, we would have to have full-time teaching positions, and those are hard to get,” Fairchild said. “The administration has to justify them with enrollment demands.”

However, Fairchild said she would like to see the department eventually add Arabic.

“It has become an important language, given the current political situation and economic exchange with Arab-speaking countries,” she said. “But whether we could get sufficient numbers of students to justify a full-time position, I have no way of knowing at this point.”

Haley Murphy, speaker of the SGA House of Representatives, said she would like to see Arabic added to TCU’s curriculum.

“Arabic is spoken so widely and is an overarching, common language,” Murphy said. “I think it’s important for foreign policy and for global relations.”

Murphy said SGA supports the expansion of foreign languages, but the resolution is nonbinding.