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CSU foreign languages department encourages knowledge of other cultures

Andrea Purdy of the foreign language department.
Andrea Purdy, special assistant professor of Spanish for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, has co-started the Culture and Language across the Curriculum program at CSU. (Photo Credit: Cisco Mora)

Andrea Purdy moved from Mexico to the United States when she was 13 years old. Throughout her move to a new country, she felt as though there was an expectation for her to exchange her Mexican customs so people in the United States could relate.

Purdy is a special assistant professor of Spanish for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Colorado State University, where she uses her own life experiences to educate others to embrace diversity.

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“Like it or not, globalization is here to stay,” Purdy said. “One of the biggest issues we run across is a lack of knowledge of other people.”

Frederique Grim, associate professor of French at CSU, believes that students should learn the terminology from their field of study in another language in order to communicate with workers or clients who may not share the same cultural background.

“Of course English is an easy language to transport across the world, but if you show at least intentions of trying to use another person’s language, it always helps build positive contacts,” Grim said.

Purdy and Grim have joined forces to bring the Culture and Language Across the Curriculum program to CSU campus. The program is still on the drawing table, but it is set to come to campus fall 2015.

“I think a foreign language class geared toward my future profession would be very beneficial not only to me, but to other students on campus as well,” said Lilly Engelbert, undeclared sophomore at CSU. “In a lot of the language classes, you learn terms that won’t apply to your future profession and won’t be of much use. Having a class that targets subjects that are in your field of study would provide a really helpful skill.”

Purdy currently teaches a trial course, Spanish Vocabulary for the Professions, on campus to gauge student interest in CLAC.

“One of the things that we have been finding is that students are saying how great it would be to learn the terminology and the language of the field they are studying,” Purdy said. “We try to teach a way to work with the language that would be acceptable in the workplace.”

Through programs such as CLAC, Grim and Purdy hope to increase interest in learning foreign languages that overlap with a student’s field of study.

“Right now there’s maybe 10 percent of the students who are taking foreign languages and such,” Purdy said. “But right now, we really do believe that it is going to just grow, particularly if we offer something such as (CLAC).”

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Collegian Reporter Danielle Jauregui can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @danij27

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