Next semester, BJU’s Division of Modern Language and Literature will be introducing language halls, a language immersion program.
Language halls are discipleship groups in which participating students may only speak the language they are studying.
Students will be placed in residence halls with other students and native speakers of their chosen language, and must communicate solely in that language within the physical space of their discipleship groups and with other members of the group(s).
Currently, the only languages offered for language halls are Spanish, French and Chinese for women students, and Spanish for men students, although more options may be available in the future following interest.
The language halls program is open to any BJU student who wishes to apply. Students do not have to be a language major or minor or be enrolled in a language course to participate; however, students are required to have completed at least two semesters of study in their foreign language before applying to the program. Participating students must commit for an entire year, except in the case of students graduating in December.
According to Dr. Jeremy Patterson, the chair of the Division of Modern Language and Literature, the main purpose of the BJU Language Halls program is “to promote daily practice and natural immersion in languages taught at the University.”
“My goal is for students to improve their proficiency in their language of study a lot more rapidly than if they were only taking our courses,” Patterson said. “It’s not a criticism of our courses, but a recognition of how language acquisition works.”
A secondary goal, Patterson said, is to develop more exposure for language in the University and more interest in languages and the related cultures.
In addition to improving their language proficiency, students will receive a certificate of participation after completion of one year in the program and a certificate of participation with merit after completing two or more years.
Patterson said that participation in the language halls could improve a person’s resume and contribute to their being hired.
“If I write you a letter of recommendation saying you did participate, it puts you a notch above other people,” he said. “It’s a professional benefit that you can get out of it, beyond just improving in your language skills.”