Colloquium to Explore the Function of Language Centers

The Center for Language Study at Yale will host a colloquium March 25 and 26 for administrators and language teachers at colleges and universities that are considering the establishment of their own language centers.

In the colloquium, the directors of the language centers of eight major universities - Berkeley, Brigham Young, Brown, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Rice, Stanford and Yale - will discuss the opportunities and challenges language centers present, describing their centers’ very different mandates and infrastructures and exploring the implications for foreign language study at the post-secondary level.

Not to be confused with language labs (which are sometimes called language resource centers or language technology centers), the language centers addressed by this colloquium are administrative units that coordinate and strengthen an institution’s language programs, whether they are housed in traditional language/literature departments, area studies councils or linguistics departments. Proposals for such centers are often controversial, since the assumption tends to be that they separate language teaching from literature departments, but in fact this is seldom the case.

Some centers focus primarily on teacher training, either in technology or in pedagogy; others function largely as the departmental home for less commonly taught, small-enrollment languages not traditionally connected to literature departments. Centers may administer courses designed for special purposes or fields (e.g., German for business students, Spanish for medical students) or courses given at untraditional hours for continuing-education students. In many cases a center’s primary responsibility is to strengthen the institution’s understanding of, and support for, language learning as a major component of the curriculum and to improve the status and the resources of language teachers.

A Web site comparing existing centers, with links to the Web sites of each, will be available to registered participants before the colloquium, and the proceedings will be published both on the Web and in professional journals. The colloquium is supported by a grant from the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning.

Reporters are welcome to attend, to cover the colloquium and learn about new developments in the governance and politics of foreign language education.

The registration fee is $100 per person, and institutions are encouraged to send two representatives - one administrator and one language faculty member. For further information, contact: Nina Garrett, director of the Center for Language Study at Yale, 203-432-8196 or

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Gila Reinstein:, 203-432-1325