Looking to strengthen its notoriety as a global institution, the University of Miami initiated a new Directed Independent Language Study (DILS) program this semester, designed to allow students to learn any language not already taught by the established language departments.
“This is a demand-driven and student-driven program,” said Maria Kosinski, the director of the program, “If students need any particular specific language, that’s what we prepare for. This is specifically for a language that UM is not already teaching.”
The DILS program seeks to supplement the language program at the university. Students who wish to engage in a language not formally taught by the language departments at school can apply through this program to conduct an independent study course in the language of their choice. The last day to apply for a language course through DILS is Wednesday, Nov. 26.
A “program” within DILS is composed of one to five students, a difficulty and/or a dialect of a language, a native speaker to engage the students twice a week, appropriate instructional materials and an independent examiner.
Students are only provisionally accepted until all of these components are located.
“It’s a language experience and a cultural experience,” Kosinski said. “Here in Miami, you just have to walk down the hall to hear all of these different languages. A directed languages program is a huge benefit to the University of Miami.”
Students are expected to conduct the course through intensive individual study.
“Applicants have to understand that they are meeting only twice a week. That is very little class time and students will be asked to work on their own and assume responsibility,” Kosinski said. “The program just isn’t a language experience, it’s a cultural experience. You cannot possibly separate language from culture.”
“This is a very personal way of learning a language that the university doesn’t already offer. Even though credits are not provided for the class, you do receive recognition,” said Manolo Melo, the Academic Affairs Committee chairman of Student Government. “Our entire goal is to make sure that this is a success.”
Though only five languages are tentatively being entertained, Melo does envision the DILS program expanding into a much larger and comprehensive program.
“We saw that the languages offered at UM were lacking in some areas. This is an excellent program that students could benefit from,” he said.
Though there is no finalized list of languages that the program will be teaching, the languages currently offered are colloquial Arabic, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Quechua and Russian.
Kosinski recommends that students complete basic language courses at the university before pursuing a specific dialect of a language, such as colloquial Arabic, through the DILS program.
“If you’re willing to make a commitment, the benefits of the program are simply outstanding,” Melo said.