Offer three-credit-hour classes for all beginner foreign language courses

Emma Vrana, Columnist

One of the first pieces of advice you will receive as a UT student is to take a language at a community college instead. We have all likely heard it, but why?

UT has an amazing foreign language program, but every year I hear from friends that there’s just no way they have the time or stamina to take their language credits at UT. For level one/beginner classes, out of 32 languages, only two do not consist of either a five or six-hour lecture week. That means you are attending class every single day out of the week, which is extremely overwhelming for most students. 

Students typically turn to Austin Community College and take the courses over the summer. That way, they have the typical three-hour lecture week and the course load is much easier. 

If we are already losing these students to other colleges to take the three-credit classes, UT should also offer three-credit foreign language classes for all beginner courses to ease the stress of students and increase the number of students taking these classes at UT.

Public relations sophomore Haley Spencer decided to take her foreign language requirement at another school, and spoke on the matter. 

“My language is Spanish and I realized it had to be a six-hour class at one time, which took away from my availability,” Spencer said. “So, if I would have taken it at a community college, like I did, the classes were only three hours.”

Students often aren’t willing to dedicate a significant amount of time from their already busy schedules for these classes. Once they realize this intense commitment, it’s a fast decision to move on and take the course where it follows the format that they are used to. 

Melissa Murphy, director of the Spanish and Portuguese department, said there are several reasons why UT created these six-credit classes.

“They need enough input from the instructor They also need enough opportunities to practice,” Murphy said. “There’s an endpoint that we’re all trying to reach a certain proficiency level and I don’t think it can be done with three credits.”

Murphy also said if students take three-hour language courses, completing the foreign language requirement may take two years instead of one.

“It would probably make the language requirement four or five semesters, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to do that,” Murphy said.

Though it is true these types of classes have benefits and work well with some students, this learning format isn’t suitable for the majority. Furthermore, if students are willing to avoid an entire section of courses at UT because of the weekly hour requirement despite the benefits, it isn’t productive and there should be change.

Add these three-credit-hour classes as an option. Six-hour-credit classes do not need to be removed, but adding the three-credit-hour option will ease students and encourage more to take foreign language classes. Everyone who wants to take a foreign language class should be able to do so.

Vrana is a journalism sophomore from Austin, Texas.