Foreign language requirement proposal hits road block at Faculty Senate

A Faculty Senate official is pushing for a six-hour foreign language requirement to be implemented into the core curriculum in hopes that the administration will take action in the future.

David Bedford, Faculty Senate Student Relations Committee chair and Spanish instructor, said he presented the issue to the Faculty Senate in the open forum so that the senators could start thinking about it, but he doesn’t think there will be a foreign language requirement anytime soon.

However, Bedford said he thinks the need for a foreign language requirement will eventually grow and will not be able to be overlooked.

According to the October meeting minutes from the Faculty Senate, the open forum was created so that senators could present concerns from their constituents and the senators will rank the issues by importance. The Faculty Senate Executive Committee will address the top issues and decide how to take action on them, according to the minutes.

Keith Whitworth, Faculty Senate secretary and instructor of sociology, said he was surprised that few senators ranked the foreign language requirement issue important. The issues that the Executive Committee looked at were TCU going green and undergraduates grading other undergraduates.

Bedford said the need for a foreign language requirement is important because of TCU’s mission to educate leaders in a global community.

“To be responsible in a global community is to communicate beyond one’s own culture,” Bedford said. “One cannot do that without having the ability to communicate in another foreign language beyond one’s own.”

Although students will not be fluent after taking six hours of a foreign language, the six hours can provide a basis for students and motivate them to continue taking the foreign language, Bedford said.

The AddRan College of Liberal Arts already requires students to complete four semesters of a foreign language, Bedford said.

Jeffrey Todd, chair of the department of modern languages and literatures chair and associate professor of German and French, said he was in the Faculty Senate when there was discussion of a university foreign language requirement during the last core revision, which took place from 2002 to 2003.

There were objections from certain colleges within the university, Todd said. The main objection was that there are already many requirements as the core curriculum stands, Todd said. The concern was that there were going to be too many hours, he said.

Bedford said one of the advantages to a university foreign language requirement would be stability in enrollment in foreign language classes. Likewise, the requirement would benefit the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures by increasing enrollment, he said.

A disadvantage would be having students in class who don’t want to be there, he said.

Whitworth said every student would benefit from a foreign language requirement because it would give each student a unique set of skills that would be helpful for the process of learning and would enhance the educational experience, he said.

However, Whitworth said that implementing such a policy could raise some major questions.

One concern would be the number of additional faculty that would be needed, Whitworth said, while another would be the distribution of students across the language courses that are offered at the university.

One of biggest concerns is that this requirement would change the core curriculum, which would change the number of hours a student would need to graduate, he said.

Todd said ideally, the requirement should be 12 hours, which would be four semesters of a foreign language. However, some students are able to test out of first or second semester courses so they would not need to take 12 hours worth of courses, he said.

Kimberly Little, a junior radio-TV-film major, said it would be beneficial for TCU to have a foreign language requirement.

When students get to learn another language, they get to learn about a ton of different cultural aspects attributed to that language, Little said, and it helps the students learn about their own languages too.

Evan Dabbs, a junior music education major, said he thinks a foreign language requirement would benefit some students but hurt others.

“It would really depend on the student’s major and the course load he or she is already taking,” Dabbs said. “For me personally, I wouldn’t appreciate it because I already have so many courses I have to take and it would probably put me back an entire semester.”

However, Dabbs said if he had the time, he would want to take a foreign language.

Sarah Miller, junior psychology major and sociology minor, said she decided to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree instead of a Bachelor of Arts degree for the sole reason of not having to take a foreign language.

Although she said she thinks it would be helpful to know a foreign language, only taking a couple semesters of another language would not be beneficial mainly because that isn’t enough time to fully learn the language.

“I took Spanish for four years in high school and since then, I can hardly speak any of it anymore but I can understand it,” Miller said. “After only a couple semesters, you’re probably going to forget what you learned.”