February 8, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 39°F


College’s new foreign language center offers more learning opportunities

The Department of Modern Languages and Literature in the School of Humanities and Sciences has opened a new initiative to involve interested students in a series of global linguistic experiences.

Julia Cozzarelli, associate professor and chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, said the new Languages and Cultures Exchange Cooperative is a space on the second floor of Job Hall that will allow the exchange of ideas among students from around the globe using digital media through videoconferencing and collaborative digital humanities projects.

“The aim of this new initiative was to move away from the outdated model of a language laboratory and focus instead on scholarly engagement between students and scholars internationally,” she said.

She said the space will be used for language conversation groups, tutoring sessions, language clubs and interaction between students and scholars at Ithaca College and abroad through video chat or Skype.

Maria DiFrancesco, associate professor in the modern languages and literatures department and coordinator of the Languages and Cultures Exchange Cooperative, said the opportunities for students to collaborate on international projects promote the ideas behind the Integrative Core Curriculum and the IC 20/20 experience.

“The LCEC … is aimed towards internationalizing courses that students take here in order to put them on the track to become global citizens, which is a goal of the ICC,” she said.

Ben Gross, a sophomore and tutor for Hebrew language courses, said Hebrew lecturer Mirit Hadar approached him to tutor in the cooperative space. He said the cooperative is advantageous in that it allows students to get more hands-on language experience and personal assistance.

DiFrancesco said the college used to have a language center in the form of a language lab, consisting of computers with listening and speaking activities for students to practice the languages they learned. The Language Center, previously on the third floor of the Gannett Center, closed in the spring of 2012 as advances in technology opened the door for more digitalized, interactive teaching styles throughout the country, she said.

“As time went on, it became increasingly clear to us that we needed our own space to more fully and effectively integrate technology into our teaching,” she said.

She said after department faculty researched how to implement an innovative language space for students and professors, the proposal for the new language cooperative was approved by H&S last year and is now funded by the Office of the Provost.

Graduate student Ben Daumas, a French native, said the new initiative will help promote the importance of languages.

“I think that the initiative is a great opportunity for American students to learn more about the languages that are offered at Ithaca College,” he said. “I think that students should take advantage of it.”

The significance of the LCEC extends beyond just the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. The room is open to all faculty who wish to engage their students in exchanges with individuals abroad. Cozzarelli said the fact that this is open to all departments and schools shows the countless opportunities it provides for students.

“The study of diverse languages, literatures and cultures touches on, and is a foundation for, countless other areas of focus,” she said. “The ability of students or faculty groups to work on a range of differing projects only enhances the spirit of the Integrative Core Curriculum, where integrative learning imparts an understanding of ourselves within a global society.”