On March 20, 2015, UNE’s English faculty celebrated English Week with a panel titled “Enhancing Diversity in Language Learning” that featured international students, study abroad participants, and faculty and staff. Students, faculty, and staff from across the university participated in the event, and the English faculty joined in, introducing each of the panel’s speakers.
Melanie Lugo spoke first, discussing her experience studying Mandarin in China for six weeks at Beijing Language and Culture University. She had previously studied several languages, and she spoke about the challenges of immersing herself in a new language that was very different from her past experiences in language learning.
Following Melanie, Samuel Verneus, an UNE student from Haiti, shared his background as a translator in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. During the course of his presentation, he spoke in Creole, French, Spanish, and English, and he strongly emphasized the importance of multilingualism in the Caribbean and in the medical field, which he hopes to enter.
Graduate student Enirahs Martina next spoke about her experience growing up in Curaçao, where she studied Dutch, Papiamento, Spanish, and English. She demonstrated the usefulness of being fluent in several languages within her work and school context, and she also discussed the impact of travel on expanding awareness of the importance of language learning.
Professor An Shengxi, also called Ann, shared with the group after Enirahs, presenting information about the differences between English and Mandarin language structure. Ann is a doctoral student at Beijing Language and Culture University in China, and she is currently visiting UNE for a semester to teach beginning Mandarin courses. She described the importance of understanding her students’ native language in order to more effectively teach them a second language.
To finish the panel, Laurie Melín, the director of International Affairs at UNE, spoke about the impact language learning had on her career path. She discussed the value of international experiences and language learning in expanding a student’s area of focus in their studies and increasing their professional opportunities.