Foreign language department gets grant

Jennifer Nacin

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the ISU department of foreign languages and literatures a $164,000 two-year grant for undergraduate international studies and foreign languages.

The grant will go toward developing and enhancing courses and curriculum within the new “Languages and Cultures For Professions (LCP)” program, now in its second semester.

The grant will also be used to provide workshops that teach faculty how to develop professional languages courses and to enhance current study abroad and work abroad programs as well as expand those currently offered.

Many global corporations and government agencies are interested in these programs, which is one reason why funding for this program exists, faculty members said.

“The funding is a result from a need both from universities and global corporations seeking students who have global literacy in languages and cultures,” said Mark Rectanus, a German professor in the department of foreign languages and literatures.

Out of 111 applicants, the department was one of 29 institutions awarded the grant, said Dawn Bratsch-Prince, professor and chairwoman of the department of foreign languages and literatures.

The goal of the LCP program is to prepare students with primary majors other than language for the global economy that continues to grow, to make students more marketable to employers, to create a sense of the role language plays in communication and make students aware of the cultures they may be dealing with in a professional context after graduation.

The program offers “professional communication courses with a focus on using the language in a professional context,” said Bratsch-Prince.

The difference between current language courses and LCP courses is the LCP program teaches languages with the intent they will be used in professionally. Courses also focus on understanding contemporary culture, politics and societies of various countries.

“We are trying to prepare students to be able to function in a multilingual international environment,” said Michelle Mattson, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures. “We are trying to get them proficient and confident in one of the languages that we offer, give them the opportunity to work in an international context, to have professional experience in their discipline … and to be able to draw from that international experience when they move into their professional careers.”

The LCP program offers students in the College of Engineering and Liberal Arts and Sciences a second major in languages tailored to their first major. The classes relate to their primary major and illustrate how language will be used in their careers.

Bratsch-Prince said the engineering department encourages students to take languages, though the college does not have a language requirement. The LCP program will work toward international collaborations with companies like John Deere and Cargil to create internship opportunities.

A second major in French, German, Russian Studies, Spanish or a minor in Chinese Studies is available to students. A Portuguese minor, which is already available through the department of foreign languages and literatures, is being worked into the LCP program plan.

Collaborating with the College of Business and the College of Agriculture are next on the list of LCP objectives. Rectanus said the department is close to finalizing collaboration in the College of Business and hopes to make it official sometime this semester.