By David Hurst
GROSSMONT COLLEGE – What’s in a word? In academia, one word may make a world of difference. For example, what once was known as the Foreign Languages Department now is called the World Languages Department.
Yolanda Guerrero, the head of the newly named World Language Department led the proposal for the change. She said that, “The word ‘foreign’ itself has a negative connotation of not belonging.” Making the name change started with a vote among professors from all eight of the language subjects in the World Language department at Grossmont, followed by approval from Dean Steve Baker, other administrators, and the District Board.
The process began during the Spring Semester of 2011, “The name change is officially in place this semester,” says Guerrero, although changes have yet to made to such things as the stationary, cards, and signs.
Guerrero said that the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages is attempting to make the name change at many other colleges and Universities and noted that Cuyamaca College, Southwestern College, and Mesa College has also made the switch.
Baker, dean of the arts, humanities, languages and communications, said the name change reflects a wish to “avoid stigma and create inclusiveness” for people who speak languages other than English , a decade after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He explained that the word “foreigners” frequently has been used in a derogatory way since those attacks.
Cheryl-anne Phillips, president of the Associated Students of Grossmont College, declared the move to be “political correctness – it’s political correctness.” On the other hand, Tina Howell, president of Phi Theta Kappa, said “I think it’s good. We are all here on campus and all languages of the world are being spoken right here at Grossmont.”
Henceforth, if you study a non-English language at Grossmont, it will be under the auspices of the World Language Department. If you call the department by any other name, that might be considered foreign.
Hurst is a student in Media Comm 132. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org