Monday, April 7, 2014

Less Commonly Taught Languages Program Making an Important Impact on Campus

Ercan Balci is an EUC-affiliated faculty member. Since 2003, the European Union Center has also provided substantial support out of our US Department of Education Title VI grants towards instruction of European Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) programs as described in the article below. 

This article was originally posted in the Spring 2014 School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics Newsletter.

The University of Illinois Department of Linguistics’ Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) Program packed fall semester with events, including a wide variety of language courses, a film series, conversation tables, and two short-term winter study abroad courses.

Ercan Balci
These less commonly taught languages—Arabic, Hindi/Urdu, Modern Greek, Persian, Swahili, Turkish, Uzbek, and Wolof—are alive and well within the auspices of the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics. And, through the tireless efforts of Ercan Balci, director of the LCTL Program, and its talented and dedicated faculty, more students are becoming aware of those languages and what they can offer to graduates in the emerging global job market.

Balci explained that the emphasis is on instruction in a “fun, proficiency-based way that includes extracurricular activities, cultural conversation tables, film series, and potlucks.

“We emphasize the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary as necessary tools for spontaneous, creative, and meaningful communication and as a part of the four skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking,” he said.

Classroom activities, conversation, small-group problem solving, and other tasks that simulate real-life uses of language are all encouraged, he added.

Outside the classroom, extracurricular activities include conversation tables, a film series, social hours, potlucks, and picnics. These help students practice the target language by learning about the culture where it is spoken.

The LCTL program capped their offerings for the fall semester with two sections of short-term study abroad courses that focused on culture. Taught in English, the following sections were led by experts in their countries and languages:

  • Conflict and Post-Conflict Resolution, Cyprus (Dr. Stefanos Katsikas) 
  • Cultural Diversity, Istanbul, Turkey (Dr. Ercan Balci) 


To learn more about these languages, the LCTL Program and its faculty, visit: lctl.linguistics.illinois.edu.

In addition, in 2014 the department will be offering its sixth Summer Institute for the Languages of the Muslim World (SILMW, for which Balci is also the director). The program is carried out in collaboration with the U of I’s Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies; Center for African Studies; Center for International Business Education and Research; Center for Global Studies; European Union Center; and Russian, East European and Eurasian Center. The institute, which continues to grow in popularity each year, will be held from June 16 to August 9. Intensive courses are being offered in a variety of Muslim world languages, including Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Swahili, Turkish, and Wolof. To learn more about the institute, visit: silmw.linguistics.illinois.edu.

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