Wilson Offers Two New Additional Foreign Languages in Fall ‘10

Byline: Kayla Chagnon

Posted: May 8, 2010

Students who want to learn Arabic or Chinese are in luck. They can now take these classes along with a new French class,"Francophone Women Writers in Translation." This is the first time Wilson will offer classes in Arabic and Chinese and it is the first time that Prof. Melanie Gregg, Assoc. Prof. of French and Chair of Foreign Languages Department, offered this class in translation.

Wilson's New Language Professor

Prof. Reginald Heefner, an Adjunct Asst. Prof., will teach both the Chinese and Arabic classes. He said, "both Arabic and Chinese are considered critical languages for the security of the United States. In addition, they have opportunities for insights and comparisons with non-Western cultures that can be gained through knowledge of these languages." According to the proposals submitted to the Curriculum Committee, provided by Gregg and complied by professors in the language department, Arabic is being offered because "understanding Arabic is essential for students seeking to fully understand the political, cultural, and economic realities and influences of the Islamic world. There is a high demand for Arabic speakers."

Why Chinese? Why Now?

Chinese is offered for the same reason. The proposal states, "The People's Republic of China currently possesses the fastest growing economy in the world and is one of the largest trading partners with the United States. Enrollment in Chinese language courses in colleges and universities across the US is increasing with every passing year. Speakers of Mandarin Chinese will have an unquestionably competitive edge on the job market." According to the same proposal, by offering both of these languages, "the Department of Foreign Languages [enters] into discourse with the 21st century, and, at the same time, gains a decisive advantage over other language departments in the surrounding area."

Expanding Foreign Languages at Wilson

Heefner said that he is excited about the classes offered in the fall. He also said, "it is hoped that the programs will thrive and grow over time, not as a replacement to the languages now offered, but as another option for Wilson students…perhaps in the future Japanese or even Russian might be a possibility too, but for now, we are taking a small but historic step for Wilson College." Students in the classes will be able to learn not only the language but begin to explore Chinese and Arabic culture, history, geography, mores and values. The Academic Support Center is also offering help to any students who take these classes by offering Chinese tutors. However, there are only three students signed up for Arabic and none signed up for Chinese.

Francophone Women Writers in Translation an additional offering

Gregg is offering "Francophone Women Writers in Translation" this fall as well. Gregg says that the class will cover such works as, Tales from my Childhood by Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé, Tomboy (Garçon Manqué) by French Algerian novelist Nina Bouraoui, The Abandoned Baobab: The Autobiography of a Senegalese Woman by Ken Bugul, The Road Past Altamont by Gabrielle Roy and The Character of Rain by the very popular Belgian author Amélie Nothomb, who writes about her early childhood in Japan." She says that students will "read and discuss some exquisite works of literature that they will probably not encounter otherwise. Students in all disciplines will fi nd this class interesting, mainly because many of the narratives are about women coming of age, grappling with issues of identity." The class will fulfill a Women's Studies, Literature or Writing Intensive transdisciplinary credit.

Those who are interested in the "Francophone Women's Writers" course should contact Prof. Melanie Gregg at, for more information and those interested in Arabic or Chinese should contact Prof. Reginald Heefner at

Last Updated: September 25, 2011

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