Foreign language majors seek to defy Gov. Matt Bevin, prepare students for workforce


Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin addressed the Commonwealth with his budget for the next two years on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the Capitol building in Frankfort. The budget included a $110 million cut from UK’s state general funding over the next two years.

Mikayla Carter

The foreign language major has recently come under the public eye following Gov. Matt Bevin’s statements on state funding.

“There will be more incentives to electrical engineers than French literature majors. There just will,” Bevin said at his budget proposal in Frankfort. “All the people in the world that want to study French literature can do so, they are just not going to be subsidized by the taxpayer.”

Russian Studies professor Cynthia A. Ruder respectfully disagreed.

“I think that the function of a university is to provide a diverse and rich experience for all students who come to the university with very diverse interests,” Ruder said. “Preparing students for the workforce and preparing students for their future careers is not just the domain of one specific major.”    

The general term “foreign language major” covers a wide variety of programs in the Modern and Classical Language, Literatures and Cultures department, including programs in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish.

Besides majoring in the language or the literature, students can also obtain a degree in Foreign Language and International Economics (FLIE) or in teacher education.

All foreign language students receive a background in collaborative Modern and Classical Languages (MCL) classes. This means students receive a core education, while also exploring languages they find interesting.

“The students from all the different tracks are in those courses, so you get to, number one, meet new people, but also find out what other folks are studying, and, as a third benefit, you start to see what the commonalities are,” Ruder said.

The department also works closely with the UK Education Abroad office located in Bradley Hall.

“When you learn about other countries and their people here it’s kind of like you learn about it from an American perspective,” said Emily Welch, a junior pursuing a dual degree in French and Russian Studies who studied abroad in Paris in the summer of 2015. “(Studying abroad) is really just eye-opening and you feel a lot more connected to a whole group of people that you didn’t know that much about before, even if you thought you did.”

Students can also pursue a background in the department through a foreign language minor.

Noor Ali, an Arabic and Islamic Studies minor, is a Health, Society and Populations major on the pre-med track. Having a minor in Arabic and Islamic studies means that Ali will be able to learn more about her culture and travel.

“Our Holy Book is written in Arabic, and I can read it, but I don’t understand it very well, so (I would) like to get a more in depth understanding of that,” Ali said. “Also, I want to work with Doctors Without Borders, and Arabic is one of the languages they need for their translators.”