The University Record, April 11, 1994

LS&A offers new ways to promote learning of a second language

By Mary Jo Frank

The LS&A Curriculum Committee has approved a proposal from the College’s Languages Across the Curriculum (LAC) Committee that will encourage students to use languages other than English in regular LS&A courses. The change is part of the U-M’s increased focus on international topics.

Students will be able to earn certification in “advanced second-language competence” by taking at least nine credit hours from among a variety of course and independent study options. Certification would be noted on their transcripts.

The LAC Committee is working with a number of departments to establish such courses. David G. Winter, acting chair of the LAC Committee, says the committee’s goal is to have five departments each offer one or two courses by 1995 and then have the program expand as more students and faculty become interested.

Departments considering offering courses in languages other than English include Psychology, History, History of Art, Political Science and Anthropology.

“We would welcome proposals from any faculty member,” Winter adds.

The Curriculum Committee has decided several kinds of LAC courses can count toward advanced second-language competence, beginning with the 1994–95 academic year.

Opportunities will vary. For example, in large lecture courses with discussion sections, one or more “dedicated” sections might be offered in languages

other than English. This option would involve no additional assignments or credits for students.

Another option would be to offer “add-on” sections to existing courses involving additional work in a language other than English. Because these sections would involve more work for students, they could earn additional credits through a newly approved course number, University Course 190/290/390 or 490 “Disciplinary Study in a Second Language.” The Curriculum Committee has given the LAC Committee power to approve courses that would qualify for this new designation.

The LAC Committee hopes departments also will create mini-courses that would meet for part of a term, or less frequently than normal for a whole term, on some specific topic and in a language other than English.

A fourth option is for a student and faculty member to work out a “contract” for additional coursework in a language other than English. Extra credit for this work could be earned upon approval by the LAC Committee.

The LAC Committee also is encouraging departments to develop regular courses in languages other than English to be submitted for approval to the Curriculum Committee in the usual manner.

The LAC Committee will help departments by serving as a liaison with language departments to recruit teaching assistants (TAs), make modest financial support available to pay TAs or purchase materials, and expedite the course-approval process, Winter says.