Moving Forward Together: Leadership Spotlight
Ezra Engling, Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Humanities and Professor of Spanish
Ezra Engling, chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Humanities and professor of Spanish, is featured in this ongoing series designed to allow EKU leaders to discuss their roles as well as campus issues. Engling, who joined EKU's faculty in July, holds a bachelor's degree in Spanish and English, and master's and doctoral degrees in Spanish from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.
Chair, Department of Foreign Languages and Humanities
Professor of Spanish
Since arriving on campus, what have you done to promote interest in EKUís foreign language programs?
On my very first day on the job, I issued an invitation to all EKU chairs to work with the DFLH to create language content courses of interest to their majors. The response was very encouraging. This was followed by an aggressive campaign directed to the students themselves, indicating the numerous career opportunities available in language studies. I upgraded the media lab, purchased Rosetta Stone, the #1 language software and established a closer relationship with the offices of International Studies and Study Abroad.
What foreign languages do we currently offer? Are there any other languages you are looking to add, and why?
We offer Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Latin. I plan to add Arabic and Mandarin Chinese in the near future. Later, I would like to see Hindi and Korean added. All of these languages are, or will be, of national significance because of their vital inportance in geopolitics and international trade. One has only to look at the revised list of "critical languages" compiled by the federal departments of State, Education and Defense.
Why should students consider a foreign language in their studies?
The fact that Americans can no longer afford the luxury of regarding the world from an English-only, and "ethnocentric" perspective. The command of a foreign language, and by extension, culture, promotes confidence, and gives the student a very marketable skill in these times of global interdependence. In some cases it is a formula for survival: A cat and her kittens were attacked by a barking dog. Suddenly the mother cat confronted the dog and started to bark. The dog gave a whimper and ran in the opposite direction. The cat explained to her kittens: it pays to be bilingual.
What foreign languages in generations to come will prove especially helpful for college students?
All of the languages mentioned above. Spanish is so obvious that it in some quarters it it no longer considered a foreign language.
What can be done to promote foreign language studies in Kentuckyís high schools?
High schools are a feeder source for colleges, and and is the one of the destinations of our foreign language majors. But we can no longer take this for granted, given the serious shortage of language teachers. As language professors we must develop a mutually beneficial relationship with high school teachers via Advance Placement courses and/or mentoring programs, and visit schools to promote foreign languages and the teaching profession.