Jacob Hersh of the Daily Evergreen, the student publication of Washington State University, argues in a recent opinion piece that “WSU needs to bring back the Russian and Korean programs that it got rid of last year.”
As a teacher of Russian language and area studies I am in complete agreement. A knowledge of Russia and the Koreas is essential in the United States for strategic and commercial reasons, and to know the countries you must know the languages.
Russian and Korean will never be taught on a large scale in U. S. schools, so colleges and universities must train specialists. The same is true of other less commonly taught languages, such as Arabic and Chinese. But as chair of a large modern language department in a university I also sympathize with a German professor quoted in the piece that “The unfortunate reality is enrollment […] It was just not sustainable, sadly.” This is a dilemma that Languages Across the Curriculum will address in future posts.
In the meantime, I hope there will be support for the return of these languages at WSU.