Our faculty and staff are committed to helping you develop skills that will allow you to communicate in the language you study, not simply to learn about the language.
How do students learn to communicate with their language of choice? The structure of the program offers an explanation.
For each of the languages currently offered at Drake, you will meet twice weekly with faculty members who facilitate communicative activities, develop culturally focused materials, and answer language-related questions, among other things. Additionally, you will work with native speakers once per week in groups of six or fewer in conversational practice sessions. The native speaker helps you learn how speakers of that language really speak. This experience simulates, on a small scale, the way in which you learned your first language.
Our experience has shown that many students benefit significantly from this approach. Former students have gone on to teach in China, receive Fulbright fellowships, direct translation services, do non-profit and church work in El Salvador, complete Master's and Ph.D. programs, or do business work.
Drake also offers numerous study abroad programs for each of the languages offered. Students who have studied abroad have reported that they were much more proficient than students who had studied language in a more traditional approach, without the small-group sessions focused on conversation. We strongly believe that if you are a self-motivated and responsible student, you will come out of the World Languages and Cultures Program able to communicate effectively with native speakers of the language.
Currently, World Languages and Cultures does not offer majors or minors. You are able, however, to obtain a Certificate of Competence in Language and Culture that is acknowledged on your transcript. The Certificate verifies that you were successfully able to function linguistically and culturally during a study abroad experience. You are also able to create an individualized major or minor at Drake, and several students have done so.
Additionally, some majors, like International Relations, International Business, and Vocal Performance, require you to study a language. Studying a language complements many majors—for example, if you study history with an emphasis on Asia you would gain a different insight by being able to read primary documents in the original language.