Students, faculty and visitors to the Mesa Community College are greeted in several languages as the school is hailed as the leader when it comes to offering foreign language classes. Greetings in all the languages the school offers are written on the wall of a newly renovated building.
The campus of the Mesa Community College in Clairemont has been known for offering language classes for 30 years, but these classes were scattered around the campus. Now the classes are confined in one venue, the Learning Resource Center building that has been renovated.
The college leads in foreign languages than other community colleges in Southern California. They currently offer 10 languages, which include Latin, Spanish, Tagalog, Italian, French, Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and German. There are also classes in Kumeyaay, which is the first native language that was spoken in Baja California’s northern tip.
Big support from school management
Pam Luster, the Mesa College President credits the leadership of Mesa for its strong support of the global citizenship and language requirements of their students. The grand opening of the Learning Resource Center was celebrated in November, which was attended by several guests, faculty members and students.
Language classes at the new Language Center
Latin is the least popular class in Mesa, which is attended mostly by pre-med students. The most popular is Spanish, which has 31 sections during each semester.
The new Language Center represents a fresh, collaborative and comprehensive approach to teaching the languages as well as consolidating the language classes under one roof. The common lounge area is littered with chairs, tables and couches, inviting students to try out and speak the various languages they are learning while having some refreshments. There is also a tutoring area where students can experience more comprehensive language immersion.
The center looks like a small version of the United Nations, with international flags cheerily greeting students and teachers from their position at the center’s ceiling.
The six classrooms are furnished with desks and chairs on wheels so that these can be arranged to the students’ liking. The foreign languages are conducted by 50 faculty members.
According to the Dean of Arts and Languages of Mesa, Leslie Shimazaki, the language department puts special importance on context and culture in their foreign language classes. She added that they believe this approach provides a broader scope when learning a language because, one, they have a more global focus, and two, it encourages students to think critically rather than just learn how to conjugate.
Alison Primoza, Spanish professor at the college said that their language department follows the five C’s: Community, Communication, Connection, Comparison and Culture, as recommended by the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages.
The new Language Center offers the students so much more. With the school’s global awareness, students learn more about the language and the history of the country of origin through plays, expert advice, reenactment of scenarios and other learning opportunities such as student and teacher cross-talks.
Image credit: Mesa Community College by Jamie Lantzy under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.