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Becoming a professor

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
31 messages over 4 pages: 1 2 3
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5828 days ago

195 posts - 244 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Old English, French

 Message 25 of 31
19 June 2009 at 6:08pm | IP Logged 
Regarding the compulsory language studies in school, I have had compulsory language classes at all levels of my
education. In primary school, everyone took French classes from kindergarten to the fourth year. Then in the
fifth year, we took both French and Spanish and then chose which we wanted to continue for the following year.
Then, in years six through eight, everyone took either French or Spanish--no exceptions.

In secondary school, everyone was required to take two years of the same language, either French or Spanish.
There were ways to get out of it, but I think the most common way to avoid it was to be diagnosed with a
learning disability.

Now, at my university, everyone is required to demonstrate "proficiency" in a foreign language. The rules about
it are not really fair, though. If a person is naturally multilingual, ie a native speaker of more than one language,
they are automatically exempt from having to take any other language courses. I don't think that is really fair
because I do believe everyone should have the experience of at least attempting to learn a language from
scratch after childhood. Since I had prior knowledge of Spanish, I was able to test out of the requirement via the
SAT (U.S. national standardized test) and the national advanced placement Spanish test. If one cannot test out,
the normal requirement for "proficiency" is four semesters. In my opinion, more than three semesters of college
language is necessary to gain proficiency.

I think it is good to make sure that everyone at least has the experience of learning a new language because it
truly does cross over into other areas of life.
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IndonesiaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5490 days ago

60 posts - 62 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, French
Studies: Indonesian

 Message 26 of 31
19 June 2009 at 11:16pm | IP Logged 
I note that the subject of Australian universities and their degree requirements was raised earlier. As a graduate of two Australian universities (Adelaide and the Australian National University), I can tell you the following.

Some degrees (BA, BSc for example), generally have no compulsory subjects. I have a BA, and there were people who went through with me at the same time who did not do a single subject in common with me. More professional degrees, or degrees with some specification of the subject-matter in their name, generally do have compulsory subjects.

The Australian BA or BSc is generally crap. When I did mine, you had to do 4 subjects in first year, 3 in second year and 2 in third year. Then you stop. Later, this was replaced by a system of smaller units of study, with credit-point values; so that it became a sort of smorgasbord. One effect of this was that the teachers could not assume that their students had the same background knowledge, and inevitably there was some dumbing-down.

On the other hand, there is a four-year degree, called an honours degree (not like the UK, where honours is just the level of your three-year degree), where you generally study one subject (occasionally two) for a further year and write a dissertation. I think this is a good balance between the overspecialized English degree (I was going to say "UK", but then I remembered that the Scottish system is similar) and the bits-and-pieces US degree.

On another topic, the title "professor". In the UK and Australia, it is a very senior academic title. Traditionally, in Australia at least, there would be one professor per department/discipline/whatever, who would be its head. Rarely, someone with a distinguished reputation would be awarded a "personal chair" (i.e. the title and salary of a professor without their being any vacancy at the head of the department). Two things happened: universities moved to having elected heads as opposed to what were sometimes called "god-professors", and funding cuts meant that many departments have had to go without professors. When the professors of French and German in office in my undergraduate days (mid-70s) retired, they were not replaced, and still have not been.

In the US, academic teachers are professors of different sorts, assistant, associate or full. So "professor" is used generically for a university teacher.

I hope that clears it up for the non-natives or people familiar with only one system.
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Senior Member
Joined 6924 days ago

681 posts - 724 votes 
3 sounds
Speaks: English*, German, Korean, French

 Message 27 of 31
20 June 2009 at 4:07am | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
Never in my life heard of this subject! It sounds like a "curriculum filler" or a "hobby degree" if you ask me!

Whatever is in that course would probably normally be part of Russian History, 20th Century History, Political Science, Sociology or Anthropology.

And what practical use would this be to somebody do who took it as a major?

Additionally, at least 1/6th of the world is filled with "Sovietologists" who know their stuff better than anybody possibly could after attending this class or even getting a degree in it...

It's a little naive to assume there has to be an explicitly practical application for undertaking study - isn't acquiring knowledge practical enough? Also, in discounting a "Sovietology" degree - what I think would be better known as "Slavic Studies" - you're also discounting a number of other courses of study. Namely Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, European Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, African Studies, and any others I've missed. These courses are also typically filled with a combination of anthropolgy, history, politics, etc. and are generally desirable for government positions such as foreign affairs.

One such Asian Studies graduate off the top of my head.. the current Australian Prime Minister.
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United Kingdom
Joined 5470 days ago

9 posts - 9 votes
Speaks: English*, Greek, Latin, French

 Message 28 of 31
03 July 2009 at 3:12pm | IP Logged 
OneEye wrote:
Sure, for example I know that's the case in the UK. But zerothinking's response sounded like he had never heard of anybody being required to take a course. The strong reaction surprised me ("How dare they?"), and seemed out of place when it's such a common thing.

I have strong reactions about all kind of common things! Why shouldn't he?
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Senior Member
Joined 6219 days ago

528 posts - 772 votes 
Speaks: English*

 Message 29 of 31
10 July 2009 at 7:09pm | IP Logged 
In any case,

My question should be "Would you recommend a career in academia"
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Senior Member
United States
Joined 6436 days ago

126 posts - 175 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, English
Studies: Spanish, Polish, Latin, French

 Message 30 of 31
12 January 2010 at 12:04pm | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
Additionally, at least 1/6th of the world is filled with "Sovietologists" who know their stuff better than anybody possibly could after attending this class or even getting a degree in it...

This is genuinely funny, Cordelia! :)
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Joined 5233 days ago

72 posts - 79 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Icelandic

 Message 31 of 31
26 February 2010 at 11:06pm | IP Logged 
Did anyone actually answer the initial question? I'm curious about that as well. I'ms tarting to think I'd love to be able to teach English in Iceland, but if not I'd like to teach Art anywhere- so hearing from professors/teachers would be nice.

On the compulsory languages- I like the idea... but I dislike the application. It is true that English speakers are less likely to learn another language because English is almost universally known so there's no incentive to learna nother language. It's also that learning another language can be an enriching experience that teaches you about your own language as well, so I can see trying to make kids learn another language. I think everyone could do with it. However, forcing kids to learn languages they have no interest in is an exercise in futlity. I hopped from french to Spanish to latin to German because of it, and I didn't retain much of any of them.

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