Foreign Language Awareness Week 2023: What to expect!


Danielle O’Brien, editor

As some La Salle students may be aware, next week, from Monday, March 27th to March 30th, the LaSalle University foreign language department is hosting the annual Foreign Language Awareness Week (FLAW) 2023!  Nevertheless, some may be unaware of what this celebration entails and the meaning behind it. Thus, as the president of the Foreign Language Club here at LaSalle, I am here to answer all your dying questions!

What is Foreign Language Awareness Week?

Foreign Language Awareness Week is a week full of events that are meant to advertise the importance of learning a second language, which at times can struggle to accommodate at La Salle. We have all surely taken a course or two in a second language in our lifetime, whether it be in Middle school, High school. And while understandably, learning a second language is not always near and dear to the heart of every student, FLAW seeks to inform students about the importance if not beauty of learning and speaking a second language. After all, not only is speaking a second language becoming prevalent to the diversity of our student body but more prevalent within U.S society overall. According to U.S, “the number of people in the United States who spoke a language other than English at home nearly tripled from 23.1 million (about 1 in 10) in 1980 to 67.8 million (almost 1 in 5) in 2019”( Dietrich, Hernandez 2023). In this way, learning o second language is clearly becoming ever more important. Nevertheless, learning a second language starts with having options in what languages one can learn, something of wh FLAW promotes. 

Why you should learn a second language in the first place…

Although we understand that for some, learning a second language is simply a requirement to graduate, what we often fail to realize as a society is a value of taking what some consider simply “gen-ed” courses. In fact, take a look at some of our bilingual students here at La Salle Univerity and their perspectives on the value of knowing a second language.

Yazmin Herrera | Class of 23’

Double Major in International Business & Spanish

Spanish & Italian

“Speaking a second language to me means that I get double the opportunities in my career and life in general. I remember in grade school some things were difficult to comprehend because I only understood in one language or the other but I came to learn that that only meant I would have the ability to understand things in two languages. I have thcanSpanish because of my ethnicity (Mexican) and it means the world to me to be able to continue to speak the language and teach others about my culture”

Mariam Timbo | Class of 24’

Major in International Relations Minor in Econ

French & Bambara

“I grew up learning two languages at the same time. I never really saw it as a huge thing until I came to the U.S. In my country, the least amount of language people speak is two. Speaking multiple languages is also creating several personalities. You are part of all of these cultures and for me that is amazing. I can be anywhere in the world and not feel like I don’t belong because I can communicate with people there. But mainly because knowing different languages also teaches how to fit in, and how to adapt. So, now yeah I think I am blessed to be able to speak and understand many languages and it is something that I do not take for granted” 

My’ana | Class of 25’

Major in Nursing


“being able to speak a second language is valuable because you can communicate with more people, be able to teach others the language, and you would have more job opportunities because of it”

Vinyl Doing Class of 24’

Political Science Major with a minor in Business Administration


“The value of speaking a second language is very important to me, as half of my family are only fluent in one language. As I had the privilege to learn both English and Vietnamese from my family, I was able to connect to both sides of my family and feel understood. Not only does it impact my family, but it also helps me connect with Vietnamese communities throughout the world, where I will feel a special bond with another. I am proud to be bilingual in such a diverse country, where speaking a second language may lead me to new opportunities and friendships”

Matthew | Class of 25’

Dual Major in International Business & Management and Leadership, Minor in Criminal Justice


“Speaking a 2nd language allows me to better connect with my family overseas. I know that when I meet someone that also speaks the language, we already have something in common so making friends is a lot easier”

Hannah Riad  | Class of 23’



“Growing up bilingual honestly brought me a lot of feelings of shame, especially when I was in elementary school. My classmates at the time would call it “weird” when they heard my mom speaking to me in Japanese, so I would ignore her and pretend not to understand. Despite this, my mom sent me to Japanese school on the weekends so I could learn to read and write the language. Thankfully, my mindset has changed as I’ve grown older and I now take every opportunity to use Japanese. I wish I could say that speaking a second language was always as “cool” as everyone makes it out to be, but it definitely was an obstacle that I had to overcome. I’m very grateful to my mom for not giving up on me!”

With that being said and hopefully with those reading now motivated to learn a second language, we should next inform you of the challenges that prevent you from doing so…

The current state of Language Learning at La Salle

Currently, at La Salle University, students can minor in Spanish when they take 6 courses in the language. Aside from Spanish, students at La Salle can take introduction courses to Japanese, German, Italian, and Russian depending on each course’s rotation. Nevertheless, it is important to distinguish that although students may be able to take Japanese 101 in the fall and Japanese 102 in the spring, for example, they are unable to learn beyond that through La Salle and thus are unable to minor in said language. This thus begs the question: why? In order to answer tTon we must first evaluate the current state of language learning. 

For the university to be able to argue for the implementation of higher-level language courses in Japanese, German, Italian, and Russian, the university first needs to gauge how many people would be interested in taking 6 courses in said language. Provided below is an infographic of information acquired from FLAW 2022 on student-language interest

Alina Snopkowski 2022 Poll on Language Interest 

The provided poll above was taken last year during Foreign Language Awareness week in 2022. During FLAW 2022, students had the opportunity to cast votes for which languages they would like to learn during their time at La Salle in cutely decorated flag boxes (decorated by yours truly alongside former Commentary editor Alina Snopkowski). Nevertheless, what the poll clearly demonstrates is that students at La Salle are in fact interested in taking a second language. In fact, as Alina noted in her 2022 article on FLAW, “almost all cases (sorry, German), exceed the 10-student minimum class size requirement”. 

But students expressed interest is not the only element that matters in factoring whether the Foreign Language Department can offer more minors. For example, if most of the people that express interest in taking a higher-level language course are juniors or seniors, they may graduate by the time the course could actually be available. Not to mention, there need to be at least 10 students registered in a class for it to be available. 

Alina Snopkowski, Demographics of Students in the poll

In reflecting on the demographics of students who expressed their interest in taking a foreign language at La Salle, we find a majority of voters were freshmen. Thus, with the two questions answered of how many people vote and who particularly does so, with results that meet all of the criteria to establish more minors, this begs the question; why haven’t these courses been brought back? 

For those who don’t know, Japanese 101, Italian 101, and French 101 are all being taught in Fall 2023 which students can still register for. Other courses such as Russian and German are on rotation to be reintroduced in the fall of 2024. Also, mandarin has yet to make a foreseeable comeback. In this way, the provided expressed student interest has not changed the current system of language courses being provided to students each semester consistently as well as at higher levels. Alumni, Alina Snopkowski , echoes student frustration when she states, “why take those language classes only as an elective? When someone is registering, it’s much easier to justify to your advisor registering for a language course if it can be taken as a minor than simply taking the introductory course as an elective with no chance of continuing into higher levels” What Snopski states in these lines is true. In reality, students often are not willing to take out loans or spend money on courses simply for the fun of it. Students at La Salle clearly recognize the value of having a minor in a foreign language, however, when the only option is Spanish or introduction courses of languages only offered once every two years, what is the point of registering? While surely, seniors do have the availability to register for courses out of the fun of it, minors cannot be built on the registration of seniors in 101 courses. Now be able to see how there is a cursed cycle to La Salle being unable to provide students foreign language minors. 

Surprisingly, the lack of implementation of the data is not due to understaffing either. In fact, there are several overly credible professors that have previously taught at least one of the languages described above but have been forced to teach other subjects because their courses were discontinued. In this way, not only is the loss of continuation of language not only is a disservice to student learning outcomes but furthermore to the professor’s teaching objectives.

Thus, how you can make a difference: support FLAW 2023

With why you should learn a second language clearly and furthermore how the data of student language learning interest compares to the current reality of language learning opportunities at La Salle, the Foreign Language department desperately needs your help in making FLAW 2023 a success. After all, if students come out and support the Foreign Language Department for FLAW 2023, whether it be through attending events, entering a raffle for language-related prizes, or voting in the 2023 language-interest poll, we will be able to gage and demonstrate to the University the student-body’s interested in diversifying the language we provide. Below are flyers for all of the events for the upcoming week. Nevertheless, you can always follow @lasalleforeignlanguage on Instagram to keep up to date.

Positive news about learning foreign languages at La Salle

As previously mentioned, for those who would be interested in at least registering for an introductory course in Japanese 101, Italian 101, and French 101, there is good news. Japanese 101, Italian 101, and French 101 are all being taught in Fall 2023 students can still register for this semester. And the more registrants, the better a chance the course has to survive.

Additionally, for those who may be unable to fit another language course into their schedule, a new club has been introduced to accommodate language learning outside of the classroom setting. (Que shameless self-promo). The Foreign language Club at La Salle University meets every Monday from 3pm-4pm in Hayman 214 to learn language unavailable at La Salle university. Each month, students are learning a new language for one hour every week. Although for example, in October 2022, club participants learned Russian with Professor Chubok, the club strives to take a more student-led approach to language learning. The months of November 2022 (Portuguese), January 2023 (Mandarin), and February 2023 (French) are all being taught by La Salle students who speak the language. And if the club is unable to find either a professor or student to teach the language, they are not shy from using other methods such as Duolingo. This was done as recently as the past month of March to teach club participants Gaelic. You can follow the foreign language club on Instagram @lasalleforeignlanguage to keep up to date with the club. For the month of April, the club is excited to offer Arabic.

Personal Note from the editor, Danielle O’Brien

In fact, if it weren’t for your comprehension of the English language, those reading this right now would not even understand what I’m saying. Thus, language is a beautiful thing. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart”. On a more personal note, as an ESL tutor since my junior year of high school and now into my higher education, language has always been of value to me. Like many of us, learning a second language (Spanish) from middle school to high school seemed to me simply a requirement to graduate. However, with one opportunity, it soon turned into something much bigger and more impactful in my life. In participating in a program at my high school where native English-speaking students could peer tutor non-English-speaking students, I learned the true value of speaking a second language up close and personally. Speaking a second language reduces the invisible barriers that may have been laid between my peers and me. Not only did it allow me to better communicate with peers I wouldn’t traditionally have had the opportunity of meeting, but furthermore, without knowledge of a second language or at least the drive to learn more, I would not have been exposed to the many threats language-barriers present to immigrants quality of life. It is important to recognize that immigrants immigrating to the United States face several obstacles to achieving a higher quality of life that is often promised as a part of America, the biggest obstacle of all being language. Anything from ordering fries at McDonald’s to securing a professional job in the future can depend on a person’s language abilities. In this way, language learning determines how you survive. To some native English speakers, learning a second language is a hobby. But, it is the Foreign Language Department’s hope that through the events provided this upcoming week, not only can you recognize how learning a foreign language and culture can be fun, but furthermore that it is essential to improving the lives of others around us. Thank you for reading, please be sure to join us next week for Foreign language Awareness week in our events, entering a raffle at each event you attend for some language-related goodies, as well as participating in the 2023 language-interest poll that students can cast their vote in Hayman and the Union Lobby, Monday-Thursday 11-6pm! Additionally, don’t forget to visit our table at the foreign language food fair on Tuesday from 12pm-2pm. We hope to see you there!

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