International Studies and World Languages Day
Posted on March 10, 2020 by Amber Day
More than 200 students from Baker High School, Blount High School, Bryant High School, Davidson High School, LeFlore High School, and Mary G. Montgomery High School recently attended the University of South Alabama’s International Studies and World Languages Preview Day. Students learned about the languages offered through the College of Arts and Sciences department of modern and classical languages and literature and the international studies program.
“We had a wonderful time at the USA International Language Day,” said Dr. Linda Byrd, an academic supervisor for the Mobile County Public School System. “Students were introduced to several languages offered at South and learned about opportunities to study abroad.”
The University offers a major in foreign languages and literature with concentrations in French, German, Russian, and Spanish. Minors are also available in these languages. Additionally, the department offers two interdisciplinary minors: one in applied linguistics and one in classics in conjunction with the Department of Philosophy. In recent years, the department added Chinese, classical Greek, and Latin to its regular curriculum, while continuing to offer courses in Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Portuguese and Modern Greek. The international studies program offers concentrations in Asian studies, European studies, Latin American studies, Middle East studies, global health and international relations.
“Through the International Studies and World Languages Preview Day, our professors and students discussed the value of learning a language both for careers and to build skills like critical thinking and analyzing an issue through multiple perspectives,” said Dr. Christine Rinne, associate professor of German, director of the international studies program, and coordinator for the global engagement certificate.
Student tour guides from Admissions also provided the high school students with a walking tour of campus.
“The event was a tremendous success and we would like to thank Dr. Linda Byrd at MCPSS and the many modern and classical languages and literature and international studies majors who volunteered. The faculty spent hours planning to be able to share their passion for language with these students. We hope to be able to offer a similar event next spring.”
Not only does the event provide local high school students and teachers an opportunity to learn about South’s programs, but it inspires individuals to broaden their perspective and think about the world outside of Alabama.
“Many of our local schools have really limited offerings in modern languages, so this is an opportunity for students and their teachers to get a taste of studying a language they may not have been exposed to before,” said Dr. Susan McCready, professor of French. “It is so important for students to broaden their perspective, to understand that there are lots of ways to live and be in the world.”
“You can't really understand another culture without a thorough understanding of their language -- too much is lost in translation. And you can't really know your own culture until you can step outside of it and see it from another point of view. Understanding culture is another way of understanding people, understanding one another and oneself.”
Dr. McCready and thirteen other faculty taught eight mini language classes throughout the day, which provided an opportunity for the high school students to experience college first hand.
“It was a chance for the students to experience a real college class,” McCready said. “It's great to get high schoolers to campus for events like this one, so that they begin to see themselves as college students. They are capable of so much, but they have to be able to picture themselves doing it.”