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Why Aren’t We a Part of This?
Over the years the College has lost its pre-eminence in language instruction. As usual, the culprit is a lack of leadership. Rather than becoming a national center for teaching languages, with members of the faculty dedicated to studying language pedagogy (rather than literature) and statistically proving the evident effectiveness of the Rassias Method, Dartmouth is now small time in the language teaching world. This is an area where imagination could have propelled us to the top ranks, and ensured that John Rassias’ inspiration became the standard for foreign language instruction around the world. Investments could have been put in place, the right people hired and given tenure; in short, a Kemeny-like bet could have made.
It didn’t happen. And so we are now a bystander in the field. When three Ivies get together to innovate in language pedagogy, we should not only have been among them, we should have been the leader. But, no. We are not a part of this innovative group. From Inside Higher Education:
Columbia, Cornell, Yale to Collaborate on Languages
Columbia, Cornell and Yale Universities have announced an expansion of a program to teach less commonly taught languages at the three institutions. The universities are using live videoconferencing with small classes (limited to 12 each) out of the belief that these class sizes are best suited to language instruction. The program started with Romanian, elementary Dutch and elementary Nahuatl, the Aztec language, and has since expanded to other languages. A new grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will allow for further expansion. This fall, the universities added courses in Bengali, Indonesian, Modern Greek, Tamil, Yoruba and Zulu. And in the fall of 2013, they plan to add courses in Khmer, Sinhala, Polish and Vietnamese.
In this area, too, the College could have been great.
Addendum: One way in which the College could lead the Ivies again is by making a College-run language study or foreign study program mandatory for all undergrads — as we have long suggested. When done well, these small programs can provide an unforgettable intellectual and cultural experience for students. My sense is that the 40% of undergrads who don’t take LSA or FSP terms are the ones in most need of their benefits.
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…