New name for CSU language department reflects positive shifts

As appearing in SOURCE

Colorado State University’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures is being revitalized with a new name, new faces and new projects.

The unit has been renamed “Languages, Literatures and Cultures” (LLC) to more accurately describe its mission.

“We dropped the term ‘foreign’ for its negative connotations and to better reflect our offerings — American Sign Language isn’t foreign and, in a Colorado context, neither is Spanish,” said Associate Professor Mary Vogl, who became department chair in summer 2014. “We added ‘cultures’ to accentuate this core aspect of our discipline.”

She added that a host of other universities already use the new title for their language departments. The CSU Board of Governors approved the name change on Oct. 2.

“Adding the word ‘cultures’ will simply highlight the inextricable connection between languages and literatures and culture,” Professor Maura Velázquez-Castillo wrote in a proposal for the change. “All languages crystalize in their lexicon and their structures the world view and particular human experiences of their speakers.”

Redesigned courses

But the changes in the department go beyond a new title. Vogl said LLC is redesigning important courses using grants from The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT). They include new hybrid, flipped and online formats. For instance, some five-credit-hour introductory courses are being revamped to feature three credit hours taught in the classroom and two credit hours conducted online, giving students more flexibility in their schedules. The department will compare the new format to the old to see if learning outcomes change. In addition, some introductory literature courses in Spanish are getting flipped to have students watch lectures online on their own, saving class time for discussion and group work, Vogl said.

A new experimental class called “Spanish for Animal Health and Care” is the latest in a line of courses for the professions that includes business and translation courses in German, French and Spanish as well as “Spanish for the Medical Professions.” The new course is being offered with support from the College of Agricultural Sciences. The courses are part of an initiative called Culture and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) designed to apply language and culture to a variety of disciplines. A certificate program in “Spanish for the Professions” is being discussed.

New faculty

In addition to having a relatively new department chair, new faces in LLC include Assistant Professor Sophie Esch, a Latin American cultural studies scholar who works on Mexican and Central American literature and music and was hired last year; Assistant Professor Silvia Soler Gallego, a translation and interpretation scholar who works on audiovisual translation in museums and was hired this year; and Codi Delgadillo, a bilingual administrative assistant hired last spring.

And two of the department’s faculty are developing a new education abroad program in which students will be traveling on a leg of the famous pilgrimage Camino de Santiago in Spain, walking from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela.

The department recently hosted an open house on Nov. 4 in its renovated conference room, Clark C-101. A high number of students, faculty and staff attended the event, making it a great success.

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures teaches 10 languages and has faculty from more than 20 countries. More information about LLC is available on the department’s website and Facebook page.


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