A Note From the Chair

CATEGORIES: January 2015

Dear Friends of WLC,

We are extremely pleased to welcome back students to campus, and I am happy to reach out to our alumni and friends with our first newsletter of 2015!

In recent notes, I have discussed interesting courses, innovative study abroad programs, faculty research projects, and general happenings in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.  This month, I would like to direct my comments to our current students. 

A few days ago, I polled the faculty with a simple question: “what helpful advice would you give students so that they will have a successful semester?”  The responses, as one might imagine, were both interesting and informative, and some you may consider quite obvious.  By far the most cited piece of advice is to simply to go to class, be alert and prepared, read the syllabus carefully, make note of the assignments that appear on the course schedule, and don’t procrastinate

Other helpful hints included defining personal goals, being prepared for class, and engaging with faculty and staff in the Department.  Here is what the WLC faculty had to say:

  • Consider your personal goals for the course. Students are often taking class after class as they work towards graduation, but the smaller goals that build to graduation and successful employment can be forgotten. Determine why you are taking the course, and consider outlining your goals via the S.M.A.R.T. project: http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php
  • Take responsibility for your learning both in and out of class.  Don’t rely on friends or classmates for information about course assignments. Read directions carefully for each activity and ask is something is unclear to you. Complete assignments on time and completely.
  • Get to know your instructor and stay in touch beyond class time. Meet with your professor in his or her office hours whenever you need help in your class—or if you need advice on your major or to explore career options.
  • Meet your professor in person! Introduce yourself before or after class, visit office hours even if you don’t have something to discuss that you think is pressing, say hi in the hallway on campus – we love getting to know our students better.
  • Classroom etiquette is important:  make sure you silence your cell phone, tablet, or computer during class.  Don’t read the newspaper, write text messages, or do homework for another class. Get to class a little early so that you can review the previous day’s lesson and be prepared for the next one. In group and pair work, become a leader and a cheerleader to fellow class mates by speaking only in the target language, keeping your classmates on task, and completing in-class activities completely.
  • Speak only in the target language!  This is your chance to improve your fluency and proficiency in a world language, and it’s the right venue to do so!  Take advantage of this precious time.
  • Balance your workload and avoid the end-of-semester rush! Get used to using a planner or a calendar on your smart phone or computer. Try to complete major assignments earlier and seek feedback earlier.  If you see that you have lots of work due toward the end of the semester, try to get some of the assignments out of the way earlier.  For example, use spring break to brainstorm about research paper topics or to complete the research itself.
  • Stop by and visit with your adviser to make sure you’re meeting deadlines and planning ahead particularly during registration when you’re looking ahead to the next semesters.
  • Take advantage of university resources such as the Academic Success Center (for free tutoring), the Dean of Students Office (for free counseling), LAS Career Services (help with your resume and information on how to search for summer jobs or internships), and the plethora of other offices on campus. If you’re unsure where to go but need help with something, ask your adviser!
  • Be healthy and prepared! Get more sleep, exercise regularly, eat healthy:  your mind and body will be more alert and prepared for participating actively in all education activities.  And, make sure you reward yourself for work well done!


I think you will agree that if you can embrace these helpful recommendations, you will be a smashing success!