Greg Ross said he firmly believes foreign languages are key to greater cultural understanding.
Ross, the house coordinator for the International House, said foreign languages can provide excellent opportunities for participants to share ideas and perspectives in an increasingly pluralistic society.
The Foreign Language Residence Program and International House have given students those opportunities for over 40 years. Ross said more than 1,500 students from around the globe have participated in the programs.
Students in the programs develop language skills and learn about other cultures. Native speakers of foreign languages tutor students and help organize events. The program currently has seven native speakers.
Graduate Spanish major Jose Badillo said he chooses to live at the International House because it’s a great way to meet new people and learn a new language.
“The cultural experience is cool,” Badillo said.
While the students engage in various activities with each other, they also socialize through foreign languages during dinner sessions. The dinners allow students to express their cultural heritage and can be helpful for students learning another language.
“This really helps improve my Spanish-speaking ability,” said sophomore communications major Amanda Byrd.
Living in the International House may give students better knowledge of other cultures and of how foreign policy differs in each country.
“Because of our geography, the U.S. is a little behind Europe in realizing the importance of foreign language study,” Ross said. “I would like to see us be more conscientious in this respect.”
Students who test into a 201-level course are invited to join the program, but Ross said beginners are welcome. Students must either take three years of Spanish, French or German in high school or have a high score on a placement test to qualify for the program or have a high score on a placement test.
The Foreign Language Residence program will have its 40th anniversary celebration on Oct. 13