Language classes readily available

Editor, The Channels:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Johanna Mikkelä for her timely article, published in the March 9th issue of The Channels.

The article dealt with the threat of a reduction of French classes offered by City Colleges School of Modern Languages.

I would like to respond to her concerns and clarify a few issues presented in her column. While it is true that enrollment has been diminishing in the French program since 1999 at our college, this does not indicate that the decrease is due to lack of interest.

We have strong French 101 and 102 enrollments, but the second-year French classes are struggling. Our department attracts a great number of dedicated students, who are willing to put in the effort and time to finish a specific course.

What often happens is that students in the intermediate levels don’t enroll early in these classes. As a result, the administration, in consultation with the department, must make the painful decision to cancel under-enrolled sections. This is exactly what transpired with French 104 at the beginning of the spring semester, although the class was allowed to continue.

Our recommendation to those students who need higher levels of a foreign language is to sign up for those classes as soon as the schedule is published.

The department schedules classes months in advance and often attempts to provide a varied program for all students. If the numbers aren’t there, keeping a class with a low enrollment cannot be justified.

French programs throughout the country are decreasing, but contrary to this trend, City College’s School of Modern Languages is attempting to maintain and augment the courses offered. As part of our full-time faculty, we have Dr. Laura Gardinali, who teaches French and Italian.

During her first year as a tenure-track instructor, she is making every effort possible to increase the number of French classes offered.

She is also working to increase the number of French majors and encourage the awareness of French culture in the Santa Barbara area. Last semester, for example, she organized a film-festival of movies in French at our campus.

Together with the rest of the adjunct faculty, she fosters interest in the French language, and makes sure students receive adequate guidance when they have questions regarding majoring in French or Italian.

If French is not a priority to a student, the School of Modern Languages also offers classes in nine other languages: American Sign Language, Italian, Arabic, Latin, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish.

While other nearby colleges are diminishing their offerings of foreign language classes, we at SBCC are keeping up with the demand.

I encourage all students interested in a foreign language to sign up early for any of our classes. The opportunities to become bilingual are readily available in City College’s School of Modern Languages.

Dina G. Castillo,

Chair, School of Modern Languages