Kenyon College recently changed its academic requirements to allow students to study abroad without prior language credit, according to an article in the Kenyon Collegian. Until last week, students who planned to study off-campus in a non-English-speaking country had to take at least one semester of the native language before departing. This year’s Kenyon sophomores will be able to study abroad wherever they like, language credit or no.
To receive credits for the semester under the updated policy, however, students will be required to take a language course at their study abroad institution, according to the Collegian article.
The Umbra Institute’s language requirement coincides with Kenyon’s new policy, said Anna Girolimetti, Umbra Institute director of administrative affairs. Umbra offers Italian courses for all levels of comprehension from beginners to advanced, and all students must take a language course.
“The main vehicle through which people approach and begin to understand a different culture is the language,” Girolimetti explained.
Director of the Kenyon Center for Global Engagement Marne Ausec agreed.
“It would seem to me that, even if the language of instruction is in English, that by going to a foreign country, you would hope that a student would want to be engaged in that local culture,” she said. “You can’t do that without language.”
She added that the new policy will allow more flexibility for students.
“It means you don’t have to enter Kenyon knowing that you want to go to Italy in your first year and so you [take] Italian,” Ausec said. “It means that we’re saying, ‘Okay, you can show us your trajectory and you can make an argument for why all of a sudden you want to do this, that’s okay.’ People change their minds a lot between freshman and sophomore year, and we want to be able to accommodate that.”