Modern Foreign Language Talent Show (lead)

Foreign language students pose with their national flags after performing in Modern Foreign Language and Literature (MFLL) talent show in Cox Auditorium.

The Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures has undergone a few changes.

For starters, the department has been renamed the Department of World Languages and Cultures. This decision was made, in part, due to increasingly negative connotations surrounding the word “foreign.”

“As a department, we decided that the expression ‘Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures’ does not adequately convey the scope of our mission and curriculum,” Luis Cano, department head and professor of Spanish, said. “The term ‘foreign’ is becoming increasingly problematic, suggesting a division of the world into the United States and everyone else.”

Cano explained that the adjective “modern” has often been associated with European languages and negatively influences the perception of other languages.

In addition to the name change, the program will undergo an array of other changes as it continues to grow and evolve. In August, the interdisciplinary Asian Studies program will move to WLC. Additionally, the department will begin offering introductory Korean language and culture courses.

Another new feature will be an increased focus on translation. Graduate students will be able to pursue a translation certification starting in fall 2023, and the undergraduate curriculum will place a greater emphasis on practical translation.

“In conjunction with our current community outreach and experiential learning projects, we expect this new development will further strengthen our ties with the community,” Cano said. “It will offer students added opportunities to consolidate their language skills while supporting various social-focused organizations in East Tennessee with a significant need for translators to help individuals and families with limited English proficiency.”

Study abroad will continue to be a large part of the program. The department is adding a new Japan study abroad opportunity for summer 2023, alongside maintaining its current programs in Costa Rica, Chile, France, Germany and Italy.

All of these decisions were made following dialogue between faculty, students, alumni and staff.

Małgorzata Citko-DuPlantis, an assistant professor of Japanese and a new member to the UT community, says she is happy that her input was considered despite her being new and that it demonstrated the commitment the department has to inclusivity and cooperation.

“It shows that we, as a department, can come together and agree on the direction of our vision and adjust our curriculums, as well as look into the future aware of the inevitable change,” Citko-DuPlantis said. “I’m very fortunate to be a faculty member in such an open, friendly and inclusive environment.”

The WLC department will host a meet-and-greet on Wednesday, May 3 at the HSS Amphitheater from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The community is encouraged to stop by and meet faculty and staff, as well as take part in games, food and music. 

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