[Lgpolicy-list] [lg policy] Seattle: $16M for University of Washington foreign-language students, programs

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Oct 18 13:35:08 UTC 2014

 $16M for UW foreign-language students, programs

The University of Washington has received a $16 million grant to offer
scholarships to students studying less-commonly taught foreign languages.

By Katherine Long

Seattle Times higher education reporter

 College students with an interest in languages should pay attention to
this one: The University of Washington has received a $16 million federal
grant to support as many as 140 fellowships a year for students who major
in Chinese, Arabic, Tagalog or nearly five dozen other less-commonly
taught, but politically important, foreign tongues.

The fellowships, which are scholarships available to undergraduates and
graduates, cover study for the academic year and summer fellowships. The
money will cover a good chunk of tuition and living expenses. It also
covers courses about the cultures in which those languages are spoken. The
grants will be awarded over a four-year period.

Less-commonly taught languages can mean any language other than French,
German and Spanish, said Resat Kasaba, the director of the UW’s Jackson
School for International Studies.

Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Russian would qualify, but the UW also offers
courses in Indonesian, Tagalog, Hindi, Urdu, Vietnamese, Bengali, Khmer and
about 50 others — languages that few other institutions offer, Kasaba said.

It takes about two years of college-level study for native English speakers
to learn a language with roots similar to English, and about three years to
learn a language that is dissimilar, Kasaba said.

The U.S. Department of Education awards these kinds of foreign-language
grants every four years, and they are designed to help the U.S. enhance its
leadership role in world markets and scholarship. The award announced last
week included 269 grants totaling $63 million; the UW surpassed all other
institutions in total grant money awarded.

The funding pays for instructors, as well as covering the scholarships.
Some money will also be used for outreach to K-12 schools.

Kasaba said students who become fluent in less-commonly taught languages
are extremely competitive for jobs after they graduate — the ability to
speak another language is helpful in almost any field of work, he said.

“There’s so much going on in Seattle that’s international,” said Kasaba,
rattling off some of the area’s big companies that do business globally:
Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks. Speaking another language “is a big, big
asset” in finding a job, he said.

The Jackson School also received another prestigious grant this month, a $1
million award from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to establish a new
International Policy Institute. The money will allow the UW to train
Jackson School faculty to better communicate their knowledge to nonacademic

“It will bridge the gap between academia and the policy world,” Kasaba

And the school has added a new master’s degree in international studies.
The one-year degree is “fully integrated with what’s going on in Seattle,”
Kasaba said, and can help professionals who want to accelerate their
careers in the foreign-affairs arena.

For more information about the language fellowships, go to the Foreign
Language and Area Studies Fellowship page on the UW website:


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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