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Intensive Language Programs

The World Languages & Cultures Department offers intensive language instruction in the following areas:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Russian

The intensive language courses are numbered 151/152, and 251/252. Each of these courses is a two unit course, and meets 7 hours per week. The intensive courses are designed to enable students to advance more quickly in acquiring communicative skills and to prepare them more fully to engage in study abroad in countries speaking these languages.

The following FAQs were prepared by Dean Ben Rifkin of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and address common questions about the intensive language programs:

Why is TCNJ offering intensive language courses?

It probably won’t surprise many students to hear that some languages are more challenging to learn than others.  The US Government has been studying this question for years because the government has to train diplomats and intelligence officers to use language skills.  Government research shows that for American-born students who are native speakers of English, the easiest languages to learn are Romance languages, such as French, Italian, and Spanish, and Swahili.  It takes about 700 hours of classroom instruction to reach working proficiency in these languages.  But it takes more than double that number of hours to get to the same level in Arabic or Chinese.  We don’t have 700 classroom hours to offer our students, but our students can get to this level in study abroad, as long as they are adequately prepared for the experience.  The new intensive classes in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian will help students prepare themselves to get the most out of a study abroad experience.

Why should students consider studying these languages?

Whether you want to get a job after you graduate from TCNJ or go to graduate or professional school, the study of any of these languages will help you achieve your goal.  There are great job opportunities in the business, government, and non-profit sectors for Americans with strong language skills in any of these languages and the competition for these jobs is not as great as it is for jobs requiring knowledge of a more commonly taught language.  If you want to go to professional school (business, law, medical, etc.), the study of a language like Japanese really makes your application stand out because it’s clear to the admissions committee that you’ve taken on a challenging opportunity.  If you want to go to graduate school, consider studying Chinese with your history, Russian with your political science, or Arabic with your economics to make your candidacy for admission and fellowship more compelling.  And the very best strategy of all is to follow up two years of intensive language study with a study abroad program:  you can go for a summer, semester, or academic year to: Amman, Jordan; Beijing, China; Osaka, Japan; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; or St. Petersburg, Russia.  But that’s only a partial list of where you can go with these languages.  Really, from study abroad, you can go anywhere.  There are great study abroad scholarships available only to students who go on study abroad outside of Western Europe in non-English speaking countries, including the Boren Fellowship.  Once you have a study abroad experience on your resume, you’ve not only got significantly improved language skills, you also have a foot in the door of great opportunities for jobs and post-graduate education.

How will the learning experience be different in the intensive language classes?

The most important difference about the intensive language learning experience is that students won’t have the “forgetting days” between classes that they have now.  For example, if you take Chinese on Mondays and Thursdays, with a conversation hour on Wednesday morning, you’ve got Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to forget everything you did on Thursday.  Learning to use a language is not very different from learning to play the piano or playing basketball:  you just can’t excel without daily practice.  The new intensive language classes will provide daily practice opportunities that allow students to move rapidly toward the acquisition of genuine communicative skills in these challenging and exciting languages.

How many hours a week are these classes?  How much credit would I get?

These intensive classes meet Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays for the regular 80-minute class session and again on Wednesdays for a 50-minute conversation hour.  Each class is worth 2 (two) units per semester (8 credits).

Can I get an overload to take an intensive language class?

Culture and Society students with a TCNJ GPA of 3.3 or higher are pre-approved for an overload to 5 units.  In order to get the overload processed, students have to pick up the overload permission form in the department office of their major, fill it out, and bring it to the office of our assistant dean, Dr. Rosa, on the 3rd floor of the Social Science Building.

What does this mean for the foreign language requirement?

Culture and Society students have a 3-semester foreign language requirement.  Students who take a 151/152 intensive language sequence (2 semesters) will fulfill their foreign language requirement in just two semesters.

What about a non-intensive option?

The non-intensive option (old 101/102) for Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian will no longer be available.  However, the regular 101/102/103 sequence will continue to be available (and unaffected) for all the other languages:  French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Who should students go to with questions about the intensive language courses?

The first person students should turn to is their faculty advisor, who can help students understand how to fit these courses into their academic program.

For more questions, contact the faculty in the World Languages & Cultures Department who teach the given language. Here’s a list of names and e-mail addresses:

Arabic – Professor Farhat:  farhat@tcnj.edu

Chinese – Professor Mi:  mi@tcnj.edu

Japanese – Professor Didi-Ogren:  ogren@tcnj.edu

Russian – Dean Rifkin:  rifkin@tcnj.edu

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