New languages at UW–Stout

By Barbara Young —

University of Wisconsin–Stout students will be singing to a new tune this year, specifically ones in Chinese and Russian. The two new foreign language offerings give students a chance to learn the culture and language of China or Russia.

Elementary Chinese was taught during the 2013-2014 academic year on a trial run for the first time, but it is back this year with the addition of Elementary Russian.

The two courses are being offered via satellite teaching, which is a system somewhere between an online course and a face-to-face course.

The students have a required class time during which the professor, from another university is on a video call with the entire class, while teaching his/her own class.

Julie Watts, associate dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, explained, “You meet and have actual class times. Students sit down, watch and interact with that instructor and his/her students in the class. But in the room with you is a native speaker tutor, usually a graduate student, who will be working with you. That tutor works with the instructor on facilitating the in-class activities.”

The system is set up through the Collaborative Language Program (CLP), a program that brings together the UW–System schools and as Watts explained, “enables individual universities within the system, that don’t have the facilities, to offer languages that are less popular.”

Because foreign languages aren’t a requirement at UW–Stout, “We can’t hire a full time Chinese or Russian language instructor in our department. There is a demand, but it’s not enough to say we can hire a faculty member to teach those courses,” discussed Watts.

UW–Stout’s Chinese and Russian instructors beam in from University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point.

This is the first time UW–Stout has partnered with the CLP since joining in 2012.  However, the program at UW–Stout has run smoothly due to the CLP’s 10 to 15 year history in the UW–System.

“It’s nice for the students too, because usually when you involve other institutions in an agreement like this, somehow students end up paying more,” Watts said. “But as an undergraduate, you’re still paying the same tuition fees as you would if you were sitting in a face-to-face foreign language class here on campus.”

The new language offerings enable students with an interest in studying abroad or a general thirst for knowledge to gain credits in Chinese and Russian without having to go to another college and go through the hassle of transferring credits. So far the program is having great success.

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