Summer language program connects western Massachusetts to the world

For students young and old, learning another language opens up possibilities that could not be achieved otherwise—navigating in other cultures with confidence, preparing for advanced language study, or simply being able to talk with ease in a family member’s native tongue.

For the summer of 2014, the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages (FCCSWL), which for 25 years has offered courses in less commonly taught languages to Five College students, is gearing up to provide intensive language instruction to residents of western Massachusetts. Currently, 11 languages are being offered: American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Russian, Spanish and Swahili. In addition, special courses in Arabic dialects, written Hindi, written Persian, and intermediate Swahili are also available.

In collaboration with Mount Holyoke College’s program in Professional and Graduate Education, the FCCSWL is offering these undergraduate summer courses in two five-week sessions. The first session runs from Tuesday, May 27 to Wednesday, July 2. The second sessions starts Tuesday, July 8 and ends Wednesday, August 13.

“Our new summer language programs are great for beginners but also for more advanced speakers,” says Elizabeth Mazzocco, executive director of the FCCSWL. “We also have created special programs for heritage speakers of Persian and Hindi who would like to learn to read and write those languages, and we have created offerings in Levantine and Moroccan Arabic.”

Each elementary language course will be intensive, meeting three hours a day, five days a week. Participants should expect that by the end of the full 10-week program, they will be able to converse in the language. Given the center’s philosophy that language and culture are interconnected, participants will also gain the skills to travel in new countries and cultures.

Each five-week course costs $1,200 and participants can earn four college credit-hours through Mount Holyoke College, which is partnering with the FCCSWL to offer these courses on their South Hadley campus. For nonlocal students, residential housing is available at Mount Holyoke.

“The new Five College-MHC Extension collaboration is especially attractive because it is so affordable,” says Mazzocco. “And the courses are taught by current Five College language faculty members.” 

Founded in 1987 with the help of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the FCCSWL offers courses in less-commonly studied languages for students at Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The FCCSWL hosts visiting scholars each year to serve as language mentors and contracts with professional language experts nationwide who help with development projects and serve as external evaluators of student mastery.