WLC Shines at International Symposium


Associate professor of Spanish Charles Nagle provides this account of our he and three other members of our WLC faculty–Chad Gasta, Jennifer Musgrove, and Megan Myers–fared recently at the 5th International Symposium on Language for Specific Purposes. 


Megan Myers (front), Jennifer Musgrove, Chad Gasta, and Charles Nagle take in the sites of Charlotte, NC via scooter after their panel presentation.

When Chad, Megan, Jennifer, and I attended the 5th International Symposium on Language for Specific Purposes at the University of North Carolina atCharlotte in March, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We were presenting a panel on building and sustaining a languages and cultures for the professions (LCP) program. My focus was on understanding student motivation, performance, and retention in our lower-level elementary and intermediate Spanish courses. Megan focused on the variety of experiential learning opportunities we have for students in the department. Jennifer discussed programming and outreach, emphasizing the important work of the WLC student ambassadors. And Chad set the historical perspective.

The fact that the panel was well received is a testament to the strength of our LCP program. But then again, I shouldn’t have been surprised. The LCP program is innovative and forward-thinking, and it wasone of the primary factors that drew me to Iowa State in the first place. The reality is that the state of the art in language learning and teaching is rapidly evolving to meet the demands of the global market and workplace, and languages for specific purposes stands at the very center of that evolution.WLC already offers many courses in the area: language courses designed to give students the linguistic repertoire they need to carry out professional tasks in the target language, courses on contemporary society and culture, and special topicscourses that provide students with in-depth knowledge and expertise.

These courses, coupled with study abroad and internship opportunities in the target language and culture, help students become the “culturally literate individuals who are able to live and work effectively in diverse communities” that the university envisions as part of its Global Citizens, Education, and Technology signature theme. Translation and interpretation courses, and courses for heritage language learners (individuals who grew up speaking another language at home), were also prominent points of discussion at the conference, and here too, WLC is ahead of the curve. WLC offers courses in Spanish translation and interpretation, and we recently created a Spanish for Heritage Speakers course to meet the needs of the diverse student population that we serve as a department.We also came back from the conference with many ideas for strengthening and expanding the LCP program.

How can we integrate LCP content into our intermediate-level language courses? Can we create additional LCP courses that feature shorter 4-or 6-week LCP modules on topics such as medicine, hospitality management, and criminal justice? What role does community-engaged learning play in LCP? And can we develop a minor or certificate in translation and interpretation? These are some of the questions that have guided our discussions over the past few months, and they are the questions that will help shape the path that LCP follows over the next 3-5 years. Sustaining an innovative program like LCP requires constant reflection and innovation, but after returning from the conference, I’m confident that WLC is up for the challenge. The future of LCP is brighter than ever.