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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

FLRP does not flop when it comes to learning a language

Michael Mollsen
Isiah Camarao, a sophomore biological sciences major, teaches a group at the Foreign Language Residence Program to speak Tagalog. The Foreign Language Residence Program helps to teach language through conversation. (Michael Mollsen | Northern Star)

DeKALB – Some might visit the Patterson Hall Dining center for a burger or some pizza, but others come to satisfy a craving to learn a language.

The Foreign Language Residence Program is a program for students to learn about cultures and new languages through conversation, while also preparing themselves to eventually study abroad and earn one credit hour every semester.

From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday through Thursday in the curtained off area of the Patterson Hall Dining Center, students take a deeper dive into languages such as Spanish, French, Japanese or Tagalog.

To learn these languages beyond the surface level, the FLRPies (the nickname for a member of FLRP) gather in groups led by a native speaker who helps spur on their conversations.

Kanami Sugano, a senior mechanical engineering major, is a native Japanese speaker from Osaka, Japan.

To teach Japanese correctly, Sugano uses a board and marker to show how to correctly speak and write the characters of katakana, which is used for imported words, and hiragana, the native language.

“It’s more easier to remember some stuff from using the words in your natural world, just talking in Japanese helps a lot to memorize,” Sugano said.

For many people, the stress of learning a language in a classroom may be debilitating, but to Isiah Bryant Camarao, a sophomore biological sciences major and native Tagalog speaker from the Philippines, students are better off visiting the FLRPies.

“Even though you’re learning a new language, it doesn’t have a stressful environment. So basically, it’s fun learning, and conducive for students,” Camarao said.

FLRP is also used to help students whose first language is not English.

Ana Millán González, a volunteer for FLRP, came from the southern region of Spain called Andalusia and has since learned to converse better in English as well as help teach her native language.

“I wasn’t used to having two brains, my English brain and my Spanish brain,” Millán González said. “But here, that has helped me because I remember the first time I came here. You start speaking English, and it was like watching a tennis game.”

For many, that back-and-forth between languages can be a struggle.

While group instruction is critical for learning a language, FLRP works to immerse the group into certain cultures. The group does this by attending events and field trips.

These events and trips include staying for a weekend at NIU’s Lorado Taft Campus for bonding or taking a trip to Chicago to visit the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.

Yaye Gueye, a sophomore finance major, and native French speaker from Senegal, said that those who enjoy new experiences with friends and want to learn new cultures should join FLRP.

“We are like a family,” Gueye said with a smile.

Recently, FLRP celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. At the anniversary, Concepcion Gliesman, the coordinator of FLRP, said she met many former FRLPies who have formed lives together and now share children.

“They’re telling them (their kids) that when they get to NIU they’re going to be joining FLRP, because they want to continue that tradition,” Gliesman said.

To join FLRP, potential members can apply to the program through its application.

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