Of many cultures and many tongues

Pierce College is, and has always been, a cauldron where people of different ethnicities, heritages and circumstances meld into a solitary community. We are home to clubs that celebrate different cultures and programs that open the eyes of students to the world beyond the American borders.

Even so, we do not offer the classes students need to speak the languages that they will encounter.

Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish and American Sign Language. These are the choices students are given to choose from to fulfill their foreign language requirement—five to equip students for the futures they face.

The global economy is splitting at the seams and numerous power players have risen in the last six decades or so. Among the emerged are Germany and Korea. Russia and China have always had a hand at shaping the global workplace, but now more so than ever. None of these nations are represented in the foreign languages department.

The goal for students attending Pierce is to transfer to a four-year university or to find employment after earning an associate’s degree. If we do not play to the current job markets and international employers, then we are setting our students up to fail or to flounder.

While the move to expand the program could take time, Pierce should begin by making small changes now. Administration should hire professors that can teach Germanic, Indo-European and Koreanic languages when they start hiring the 50 new faculty members set to arrive by the end of 2016. By the time the process has finished there will likely be enough space to house the new courses.

In April 2010, a study conducted by the United States Department of Commerce and U.S Census Bureau reported that California had the highest percentage nationwide of Vietnamese and Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) speakers. The state has the second highest concentration of Korean speakers and third highest of Tagalog. It also reported that California has one of the densest populations of Arabic and Farsi speaking people, taking third place to New York and Chicago.

Expanding the Modern Languages Department to include more than what it already encompasses would be beneficial to both the students and community.

It could also be said that this would provide an alternative to students who do not excel in classical Latin based languages.

While classical languages are so closely related that one could understand the basics of French if they speak fluent Spanish, Germanic and Indo-European are vast in their differences. Despite sharing close quarters, the languages of the European-Asian continent stand in stark contrast of one another.

Failure at one would not equate to struggling with the rest. Each stands alone, and, therefore, is less likely to resemble the others.

The point is to start now while the campus is in this period of expansion instead of waiting until it stops growing which could lead to cuts in other programs. Sow the seeds now and reap the benefits later.