The Wavering Fate of Language Programs and Languages in General
This is a persistent issue that the world needs to solve. I just came back from the InterpretAmerica Summit in Washington where we heard from Dr. Kayoko Takeda talk about the fact that there is not more research being conducted on interpreting is the U.S. because there are no doctoral programs for our profession and that is where in-depth research projects are usually carried out. Moreover, the Monterey Institute of International Studies‘s masters in T&I are the only ones left to date in the States. It is mind-boggling that our country is not taking the necessary steps in this direction to equip our students with professional language tools that will enable us to compete properly in the relentless process of globalization.
I just signed a petition on Linkedin launched by the AIIC group in that forum to ask the University of Westminster not to cut its conference interpreting program. I urge any of you that can support it to sign in and do so. The University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Relations teaches some of the world’s hottest languages of the developing world such as Arabic, Urdu, Hindi and Chinese. They receive federal funding, as well they should, because we need to be able to communicate fluently with these countries, in their languages, for business and international relations to prosper. Nonetheless, because of our economic predicament these programs are slated to receive drastic cuts that will severely hinder their ability to provide this very needed service. It is happening not only here but in countries such as Malayasia that is struggling as its language, which was the lingua franca of the Malay Archipelago, is losing its dominance to English. In this regard, I have always been intrigued by the talks that our colleague, Dr. Georganne Weller, has given at professional forums regarding INALI, and the very important work they do to promote indigenous languages in Mexico. I understand there are over 200 indigenous languages in Mexico! Speaking of indigenous languages, the Cherokee Nation apparently understands this problem here and has created a private language immersion school for Cherokee, in Oklahoma, that is applying for charter status.
I will close on an interesting note which caught me by surprise. Chinese proficiency testing is growing in Mexico, at the Confucius Institute of the Autonomous University of Yucatan. Read about it here. Perhaps a reader from Mexico might be able to shed some light on why this effort is gaining popularity there.