Not So Foreign Languages
by Scott Jaschik
October 5, 2011
West Virginia University announced this semester that it no longer has a department of foreign languages. Rather, the university renamed the program; it's now the department of world languages, literatures and linguistics.
Across the country, Grossmont College, a two-year institution in Southern California, changed its foreign languages department to a world languages department this fall as well. These colleges follow others that have made that switch over the last five or so years.
One reason cited by many of the programs that are switching names is that their most popular language -- Spanish -- is widely spoken in the United States.
Many educators also do not like the way "foreign" suggests a division of the world into the United States and everyone else.
Similar shifts are taking place in discussions over what to call English instruction outside of the United States and other countries where English is the first language. John Segota, associate executive director of TESOL International Association (formerly Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), said that in that field, the acronym EFL (for English as a foreign language) is seen increasingly as imprecise (outside the United States) when people all over the world use English in some ways.
The newly favored acronyms, he said, are EAL (English as an additional language) and EIL (English as an international language).
Read the full article at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/10/05/colleges_are_replacing_foreign_language_departments_with_world_language_departments