A language by any other name…

Language%3A+With+its+name+change%2C+the+department+hopes+for+awareness+of+its+academic+opportunities%0AJavier+Muro+de+Nadal+%2F+Staff+Photographer
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A language by any other name…

Language: With its name change, the department hopes for awareness of its academic opportunities
Javier Muro de Nadal / Staff Photographer

Language: With its name change, the department hopes for awareness of its academic opportunities Javier Muro de Nadal / Staff Photographer

Language: With its name change, the department hopes for awareness of its academic opportunities Javier Muro de Nadal / Staff Photographer

Language: With its name change, the department hopes for awareness of its academic opportunities Javier Muro de Nadal / Staff Photographer

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Language: With its name change, the department hopes for awareness of its academic opportunities Javier Muro de Nadal / Staff Photographer

Language: With its name change, the department hopes for awareness of its academic opportunities
Javier Muro de Nadal / Staff Photographer

For universities, including Saint Louis University, developing a name for an academic department that incorporates all the elements of the department can be difficult, especially if that department is home to all the language and cultural courses on a campus. The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at SLU showcased its new name this fall—a name it hopes is a good representation of all its programs and offerings.

The department was previously known as the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. The new name, department members hope, will provide deeper clarity of the department’s mission and goals and be a better representation of the language, literature and culture classes that expand beyond the modern and classical languages. While other campuses choose to divide the language aspect of their curriculum into different sections, SLU holds one department that is home to a variety of languages with different roots. Languages include Italian, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, German, French, Classics, and Chinese. The department hopes the new name covers the diversity of each language and the culture it is connected to, which is what the faculty cherishes most about its division of academics.

Dr. Angela Smart, department chair, is proud to reveal the name change that has been in the works for the past 10 to 15-years. “It’s difficult to find a common ground within all the programs offered. Our name puts all the languages and cultures under one umbrella. It better embodies what the department does, which is unite all the languages, literatures and cultures,” she said.

Originally, certain aspects of the department were not reflected in the title, like the faculty’s approach to educating students in a different language. This approach involves integrating culture into the classroom and connecting it back to the language. By understanding that language is an expression of a culture, the students are better able to grasp the value of the foreign language they are learning and how to connect with it in a more meaningful way, the department says. By adding “Literatures and Cultures” into the title, the department better markets this unique aspect of its curriculum.

“Studying languages and cultures is a transformative experience. It leads a student to think more about who he or she is. Both studying a language and studying abroad allows a student to decode the cultural differences of a country,” said Smart, who is also a professor of French.

The name change follows the example of universities around the country who are taking the step to exemplify their aspects of their departments. The University of Massachusetts Amherst and Stanford University are two examples of universities nationwide that are rebranding their language departments.

Smart believes the name change will also refresh the general knowledge of the department’s programs and the diversity of the classes offered.

“Our faculty is like a little U.N.! There are people from all different cultures, which makes for a vibrant faculty. All are actively engaged in both research and a dynamic learning approach,” she said.

The department also offers opportunities to expand knowledge on cultures and languages outside of the classroom. The French program offers activities such as teaching traditional Parisian ballroom dancing, and the Italian program offers a weekly “Tavola Italiana” (Italian Table) for students to practice the language skills they acquire in class.

Smart explained that the faculty provides unique opportunities to incorporate elements from each program into individual classes. Courses offered this semester include a class on Israeli culture and one on World War I, both of which involve many of the cultures individually offered in the department.

Also fresh to the department is the name change of the Language Learning Center to the Language Resource Center. The LRC, now located in Morissey Hall, along with the rest of the department’s labs and faculty, is a place for students to work on group projects, rent cultural movies or work with tutors. Smart hopes the LRC will provide a study environment for students taking the classes in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

The department is also home to two M.A. programs, French and Spanish, and offers Latin American Studies and Classical Humanities Studies majors. The department, in addition to the changes it has already made, is also working to incorporate  a Chinese minor into the curriculum.