Foreign Language consortium benefit students at GSU, elsewhere

In January of 2005, Grambling State received a grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents for more than $60,000 to establish the Louisiana Foreign Languages Electronic Learning Consortium, a multi-university consortium, in order to enhance the academic programs in foreign languages. In addition to GSU, the consortium includes Nicholls State, Southern University at Baton Rouge, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The participating universities deliver their courses via compressed video that allows teaching students on other campuses simultaneously, in a real time format.

By combining the student populations and sharing the faculty expertise, the Consortium offers courses in both the commonly taught and the less commonly taught languages: advanced-level courses in French and Spanish, linguistics, literature, and culture, and elementary and intermediate courses in Arabic, German and Latin.

Over the past three years, more than 550 Consortium students have attended the courses taught by the faculty of the five institutions. Through the Consortium, many students were able to complete their required courses and graduate.

Some universities have added new languages to their course offerings. In 2005, Grambling adopted Arabic, German and Latin, and this fall, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette started offering Arabic via the Consortium.

Today, several classes are being taught on three campuses simultaneously: German at Southern, ULM and Grambling; Latin at ULM, Grambling and ULL; and Arabic at ULM, Grambling and ULL.

The distance learning staff has been supportive in implementing this project.

At Grambling, the Consortium plays a significant role in building up the foreign language programs. It allows French and Spanish majors and minors to take upper level courses and complete their curriculum requirements. It provides other students with a unique opportunity to study lesser taught languages and cultures, and enrich their learning experience.

Since the fall of 2005, more than 120 Grambling students were able to enroll in 25 courses which originated from other institutions. In addition to being cost effective, this project largely contributes to the enhancement of inter-institutional collaboration and Grambling’s prestige as the initiator and leader of the Consortium.

Dr. Chimegsaikhan Banzar, French professor at GSU since 2003 and co-investigator of the grant, has been actively involved in the establishment and the management of the Consortium.

“One of the Consortium’s goals is to offer the same quality instruction as a traditional method,” Dr Banzar said. “Therefore, we strive to improve the course planning and scheduling, advertising and recruitment, increase teacher-student interaction, provide students with efficient tutoring service, and optimize the overall management of the Consortium.”

In spite of some technical problems related to connection, many Grambling students expressed their satisfaction with the Consortium program. In a recent survey, they pointed out that they have had a good experience learning another language and would like for their colleagues on campus to take up some of the classes. For the list of Consortium courses to be offered in the spring and the fall of 2009, please contact the Department of Foreign Languages at 274-2353 or 274-2347.

Dr. Chimegsaikhan Banzar of the Foreign Language Department contributed to this story.