Spring 2006

Interest in foreign languages evident at UDM

Although the United States' government has coined them "mission critical" languages, ARABIC, CHINESE, KOREAN, RUSSIAN, and JAPANESE have been offered through UDM's Language & Cultural Training Department for over 20 years.

Despite the government's recent interest in promoting foreign languages, UDM is ahead of the curve. UDM has trained government officials, and business persons in Arabic language and cultural training, differentiating between regional dialects and stressing cultural nuances. Many universities are only beginning to develop their Arabic language curriculum, but UDM is now at a point where it is advancing students through intermediate level Arabic and beyond.

In addition to learning the language, UDM's Arabic language students actively participate in cultural experiences offered through organizations such as the American Arab Chamber of Commerce. Several UDM students were guests at the Chamber's annual banquet this year and two students attended a luncheon with H.R.H. Saudi Ambassador, Prince Turki Al-Faisal in April. Two Arabic language students received scholarships through the Arab American Language Institute for a two-day long seminar to prepare for the State of Michigan Certification in Court Translation, which was held at UDM in February.

According to Lara Wasner, director of Language & Cultural Training, "UDM has seen growth in enrollment in many languages, both on and off campus in the last five years, particularly in Arabic and Spanish. The increasing interest in languages demonstrates that UDM students are aware of how fluency in more than one language positively impacts their future as workers, and as leaders in a global society."

It is important to keep up this momentum in order to be eligible for future funding through initiatives that are currently being proposed through the Department of Education through the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI). Most of the initiatives include partnerships with K-12 schools, and must be initiated through school districts.

"This reinforces the need to maintain these critical partnerships with our K-12 institutes, as well as explore new partnership opportunities so that once these initiatives are released for funding, UDM can receive part of this funding," says Wasner.

UDM's Language & Cultural Training most recently participated in Passports to the World at Star of the Sea Academy in Grosse Pointe Woods, in addition to running programs in a variety of public, private, and home schools in metropolitan Detroit.

The department is currently developing a translation certificate program in Arabic to English translation.

To find out more about UDM's Language & Cultural Training programs, call Lara Wasner at 313-993-1191.

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