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Crossing the Bridge: Languages at Yale-NUS and NUS

All PostsArtsCrossing the Bridge: Languages at Yale-NUS and NUS

story Yip Jie Ying, Contributing Reporter

Students can take language courses at both Yale-NUS and the Centre for Language Studies. (David Zhang)
Students can take language courses at both Yale-NUS and the Centre for Language Studies. (David Zhang)

“What modules are you going to take? Should I take a language module?” With students having to choose their modules for next semester this week, some are considering whether to study a language course, and whether to take it at Yale-NUS College or the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) in the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Currently, Yale-NUS offers four different languages– Chinese, Latin, Greek and Spanish, while CLS offers thirteen languages: Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Spanish, Tamil, Thai, and Vietnamese. Yale-NUS students can take CLS modules which are held in University Town and the Kent Ridge campus. However, Yale-NUS language modules carry five Modular Credits (MCs) each while CLS modules carry four MCs each.

The main differences between CLS and Yale-NUS modules are class size and methodology, said Saga College Vice-Rector Eduardo Lage-Otero, who is also language coordinator. “As a liberal arts college, we always emphasize small class sizes,” he said. At Yale-NUS, there is a cap of 15 students for each class, although a few more students may be allowed, especially at the introductory levels, due to fluctuations in class size. Teaching tends to be more interactive as opposed to textbook-based learning or a greater emphasis on grammar. However, this is “very language-specific” and depends on instructional practices and faculty preferences, Mr. Lage-Otero added.

The difference in MCs can often be made up for with special seminars, independent research modules and summer programs, said Mr. Lage-Otero. Meddley Bourdeau ’17, who is taking Japanese at CLS, made up for the difference in MCs by attending Yale Summer School for 10 MCs. “MCs don’t really matter unless you are underloading,” said Dylan Ho ’17, who took Spanish at Yale-NUS.

With regard to programs offered, both Yale-NUS and CLS offer a wide array of optional programs outside the classroom. “There are lots of programs [at CLS]… such as Media Japanese and Business Japanese”, said Bourdeau. The latter brings students to actual Japanese companies and they learn to write cover letters in Japanese, for example. The Yale-NUS Centre for International and Professional Experience offers summer language study opportunities, with scholarships to study Chinese, Spanish or any other foreign language. Ho went studied Spanish under the Yale Summer Session this year, where he spent a month at Yale and another in Ecuador.

Yale-NUS offers languages based on student interest, long-term sustainability, impact of the program on the overall curriculum, and resources required, said Mr. Lage-Otero. For example, there were “lots of international students interested in studying Chinese”, and it made sense strategically to offer Chinese because of “where we are in the region”. Yale-NUS is unlikely to offer as many languages as CLS due to the small student body, and will continue to rely on CLS, he added.

However, there are also ways for students to study languages that are not offered at Yale-NUS and CLS. In the previous semester, a student took Russian through Yale, using online video chat. As Japanese and Arabic have seen strong student interest, Yale-NUS will offer Japanese 1 and Arabic 1 through CLS at Yale-NUS next semester, said Mr. Lage-Otero. This would eliminate the need for students to commute. The College is also working with Yale to offer languages that are not available at CLS.

Whether a language is studied at Yale-NUS or CLS, “at the end of the day, the end goal is the same … to master another language,” said Mr. Lage-Otero.

Students will need to register for their modules in three rounds. Round 1 began on Nov. 2 at 9 am and closes on Nov. 4 at 12 pm.

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