Faculty and community join to protect Modern Languages and Chamorro Studies at UOG

by Michael Lujan Bevacqua, University of Guam Language Drive Committee
Stripes Guam

January 17, 2017, Mangilao, Guam – University of Guam professors, students, and stakeholders invite all community members to sign a petition to protect the Modern Languages and Chamorro Studies programs at www.UOGLanguageDrive.com>.

A proposal to change the General Education curriculum, currently under consideration by President Robert A. Underwood and Senior Vice President Anita Borja Enriquez, would reduce by half the number of language courses traditionally required for undergraduate students to earn a degree. If implemented, this change will severely impact the Chamorro Studies program and language learning in general.

Current and former UOG faculty members have joined together to create the UOG Language Drive for which they are seeking public comments and signatures in order to ask President Robert A. Underwood and Senior Vice President Anita Borja Enriquez to protect language learning at UOG by maintaining the current levels of required language learning.

Learning a second language increases cognitive skills, helps students understand their first language better, raises test scores, enhances global awareness, and connects students to their heritage, according to Therese Sullivan Caccavale, President of the National Network for Early Language Learning. According to language and linguistics experts Dr. Laura M.T. Souder and Dr. Samuel Betances, "Learning the languages of the Pacific Rim nations is critical for our economic viability . . . Meaningful interactions for bridging the Island-Global divide require dual language competencies."

At present, UOG lists course offerings in many modern languages relevant to today's global economy as well as our Asia-Pacific region, including Chamorro, Chuukese, Japanese, Tagalog, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and French.  Students, regardless of their major, are currently required to take two semester-long language courses (eight credit hours).  The proposed changes would require only one such course (four credit hours).

Faculty members of Modern Languages and Chamorro Studies at UOG, as well as other professors who have joined the petition, are deeply concerned that this proposed reduction of language requirements will severely threaten Chamorro Studies and language learning in general for our island community, which is already multicultural and multilingual, indigenous and international.     

Those who want to help protect language learning for our future generations at UOG are invited to visit the website www.UOGLanguageDrive.com>, learn more about the issue, and sign the petition. 

The UOG Language Drive is led by a coalition of professors and scholars including Dr. Laura Torres Souder, Dr. Samuel Betances, Dr. Gerhard Schwab, Siñora Rosa Salas Palomo, M.Ed., Siñora Rufina F. Mendiola, Siñora Teresita C. Flores, Siñot Joseph D. Franquez, Dr. Evelyn San Miguel Flores, Dr. Toyoko Kang, Dr. Clarisa Quan, Dr. Christopher Schreiner, Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua, Siñot Kenneth Gofigan Kuper, M.A., and Dr. Elizabeth Bowman.

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