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What Is It? ULA

BJU students Lili Genatt and Casandra Gollihar communicate in sign language. Photo: Mark Kamibayashiyama

The University Language Association is a student-run organization that provides help and language-learning opportunities to all Bob Jones University students.

Any BJU student can be a member of the ULA with no membership dues. In addition, any student taking a foreign language course is automatically admitted to the ULA as a member. The languages represented by the organization are the ones the University offers as classes—Chinese, French, German and Spanish.

Daniel Hudson serves as ULA student president with four additional officers—Virginia Gilbert, Melena Jenks, Rachel Franklin and Mikenzie Glover—each representing one of the languages offered at BJU.

Dr. Jeremy Patterson, chair of the Division of World Languages and Cultures and faculty sponsor for ULA, said, “We want to give a variety of opportunities to our students who are taking language and culture courses.”

As one of these opportunities, the ULA will host a linguistics seminar Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. in Levinson Hall, focusing on language change and how languages develop over time. Dr. Grace Hargis from the Division of English Language and Literature will be the keynote speaker.

Hudson said linguistics seminars connect linguistics to the study of modern languages. “At [BJU] there has not been much interaction between the linguistics and world languages departments . . . and it made sense to me that those studying individual languages should also think about the study of language itself,” Hudson said. “There are so many overlaps between the two fields.”

The ULA also does film screenings in various target languages and will have two different screenings in the 2020 fall semester. The first screening will be a French film, and the second will be in German, with English subtitles provided at both screenings.

Another learning opportunity is language dinners every Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. in the dining common. Some students use these dinners to develop their own language skills or expose themselves to other languages. Others use the time at these dinners to fulfill the conversation time requirement for their language course.

Katelyn Lain, a junior English major with a Spanish minor, met several of her conversation partners at language dinner. “It gave me good conversations with people that were at lower levels but also higher levels as well,” she said.

A new opportunity at these dinners is the incorporation of American Sign Language. ASL students are now able to converse and practice with each other at the language dinners.

ULA encourages students to try attending church services or participating in ministries conducted in the students’ target language. This allows students to be immersed in their target language and see the cultural differences fleshed out in worship and fellowship.

Lain said the reward for learning languages is talking to people. “Language is all about people,” Lain said. “If you care about people, then you’ll want to be around different cultures and different personalities.”

Hudson said, “We don’t just study languages or have the ULA so we can have fun, we do it because there is serious and wonderful work to be done studying part of God’s creation; so we can bring Him glory.”