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Hindi to return next year as CLIC implements changes

By Emily Abdow     4/13/16 9:42am

Hindi will once again be offered by the Center for Language and Intercultural Communication in the fall 2016 semester as a two year program. According to Meng Yeh, associate director at the CLIC, students will have the option of enrolling in either First Year Hindi or Accelerated First Year Hindi, a faster paced program for heritage students who have been exposed to the language through their culture. She said an accelerated language program is already being offered in Chinese due to the amount of heritage students enrolled at Rice.

Yeh said the CLIC’s emphasis on Hindi, as well as Chinese, Japanese and Korean, stems from President Leebron’s 10-Point Plan, which stresses the importance of an international focus on Asia and Latin America.

“We need to prepare our students with the language and cultural skills to be competitive in a global market,” Yeh said.

Rafael Salaberry, the director of the CLIC, added that Hindi is the first language of nearly 425 million people and the second language of 120 million more.

According to Salaberry, Hindi has been offered at Rice since 2001, but the former professor retired after the spring 2014 semester. The CLIC then began a national search began for a replacement professor. Yeh said a search committee selected the top three applicants out of a pool of over twelve and interviewed them via Skype.

According to Yeh, the new Hindi instructor, Divya Chaudhry, stood out due to her theoretical language background. Chaudhry has a Ph.D. in linguistics which will help her bridge the gap between language theory and practice, Yeh said.

Yeh also said there are other changes at the CLIC due to language courses receiving D1 credit status in fall 2015. As a result, the CLIC has been focusing on an inductive approach to language learning in which students are given data and expected to find language rules and patterns.

“We want to live up to the expectations of the D1 credit which means focusing on critical thinking and analytical skills,” Yeh said. “We want our language students thinking and analyzing, not just memorizing.”

Yeh also emphasized another focus by the CLIC: learning outside the textbook.

“Textbook lesson plans are manmade and stiff,” Yeh said. “We don’t just want our students to talk about the weather and going to a restaurant. We want a more natural speaking approach where students learn language as it is used in natural conversations.”

Yash Tarkunde, the co-publicity officer for the South Asian Society, said the SAS supports the reintroduction of Hindi.

“We are excited to have options for a new Hindi class,” Tarkunde, a Wiess College junior, said. “I know that people really enjoyed taking it in the past and were disappointed when it was removed. I know a lot of people who are looking forward to taking both of the classes.”

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