Slavic Language Classes Cut Due to Budget

Due to increased budget cuts, Harvard’s formal Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian language courses have been removed from the curriculum. The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures’ “E Series”—a sequence of two beginning courses in these three related languages as well as a more advanced tutorial—has been terminated due to the budget cuts which “left virtually no corner of the FAS untouched,” Julie Buckler, chair of the department, confirmed. Instead, students who demonstrate a need to learn these languages can obtain independent tutoring. This semester, two students are taking advantage of this service at the introductory level and six at the advanced level, Buckler said. Despite these cuts, the department was able to expand other offerings, adding second-year instruction in Polish and Czech to the catalogue. In response to cuts in her department and others, Patricia Chaput, director of the language program in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, said she “[worries] a great deal about Harvard becoming enrollment-driven in the teaching of language.” She stressed that some of the less popular, and therefore more threatened, languages at Harvard are taught at few other universities in the United States. Chaput emphasized that these low-enrollment languages can be the “kinds of courses that prepare students for life in a global society” and are often excellent preparation for international careers. Danielle C. Kijewski ’11, a concentrator in Slavic Languages and Literatures, hopes to use her language background in a career in the State Department. She said, “With the ever-increasing ease of world-wide communication and international cooperation, it is more important than ever for students to become well-versed in foreign languages.” Chaput added, “Given that Harvard is a training ground for people who will become some of the top specialists in their fields, it is essential that Harvard retain diversity in language offerings. Specialists can’t be specialists if they don’t know the languages of the areas they study.” Budget constraints have also affected language study beyond the classroom. Last week, The Crimson reported that free access to the Rosetta Stone language-learning software had been eliminated. The Language Resource Center will offer students, faculty, and staff the software at a subsidized price of $110 per year, discounted from the normal $549 annual subscription price. Chase Russell ’12, a Romance Languages and Literatures concentrator, was considering using the software to practice for his Japanese course outside the classroom, but he said he is not willing to pay the new subscription price. “It’s disheartening. I definitely would have used it; it seems like a good supplement,” he said.

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