Enrollment for language classes at COCC is down, here’s why that should worry you

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Photo by Marvin Walder

Roman Russell/The Broadside

Central Oregon Community College offers one of the most diverse language programs for a community college, offering French, Italian, Chinese, Ichishkin, German, Kiksht and Spanish. However, many of these classes are at risk as enrollment is down for all language classes.

Fleur Prade, COCC’s associate professor of French who teaches both French and Italian, has voiced her concerns on the matter. “I do worry that if this continues to go down in the next, I’d give it five years, they may be eliminating languages.” Prade said.

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Why should this worry students?

Languages courses are often a requirement for larger universities, and if they are not a requirement, the experience still looks appealing. It is not only useful in a scholarly setting.

“In a more economic sense, a lot more businesses, corporations are looking for employees who have knowledge of a second language…” Prade said.

If language classes begin to disappear at COCC, there will be less flexibility in what students can study, use to transfer to other schools or place on their resume.

Why not use a language learning program like Duolingo?

Programs such as Duolingo or Babel can be very helpful in learning a language, however, according to Prade, ” Duolingo is just a tool…it’s just not as complete.”

She went on to elaborate, “It’s not just about learning about words, learning a language. It’s even deeper, [you are] learning about a culture.”

Language classes provide a deeper experience than an app could. Language classes teach about the culture, how one should act, and the nuances behind a country’s history that influence their culture.

If language classes fade away, students will be left with only a shallow learning experience through apps to learn languages other than Spanish.

How can students help?

Sign up for a language class and take advantage of the great variety COCC has to offer. Use this once-in-a-lifetime chance to become more appealing to schools and businesses, and gain a full knowledge of a language.

“We’re always, whatever domain we’ll go into, we’re always at some point in one’s life going to interact with someone from another culture in another language. So, you know, I just think it there’s no loss to it.” Prade said.

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