BYU has long been known for its stellar foreign language programs, including for the number of programs offered and degrees awarded. This year proved no exception. According to a recent article from the Daily Universe, based on an independent study, BYU is first in the nation for Arabic, Portuguese, and Russian and third in the nation overall for its language degrees. BYU consistently offers sixty-seven foreign language courses to its students, with the potential for thirty more with enough student interest. Currently, 65 percent of BYU students speak a second language.
As for BYU’s number one ranking in its Russian program, Grant H. Lundberg, Russian and German Department chair, described the program’s impact on students, many of whom are returned missionaries. “Many of our students enter the program having already had a significant immersion experience. That allows us to expect more of them,” Lundberg noted. “We can do things in class that are impossible at other universities. We graduate more Russian majors than any program in the country, and those graduates use that language in a variety of professional fields.”
Kennedy Center Middle East Studies/Arabic majors are one of the reasons for BYU’s Arabic ranking. MESA majors not only study Arabic on campus, they are required to complete an intensive Jordan Study Abroad program, directed by Kirk Belnap, director of BYU’s Arabic Flagship Center. Other Kennedy Center majors also make use of BYU’s foreign language offerings (e.g., Asian Studies: Chinese, Japanese, or Korean).
Rebecca Brazzale, assistant director of BYU’s Center for Language Studies, recently discussed the purpose and benefits of foreign language programs. “We believe that first, advanced language learning brings advanced cultural insights, increases global understanding, and overcomes the limitations of any monolingual view; and second, knowledge of more than one language increases language awareness and sensitivity, promotes life-long learning, and is a hallmark of the educated person,” Brazzale remarked.
Brazzale, her colleagues, and BYU encourage interested students to take advantage of these rigorous, enriching foreign language programs.
—Erica Bassett, 26 June 2020