Connecticut high school students will soon descend on campus for weekly classes in uncommonly taught languages such as Russian, Turkish and Kiswahili.
The classes in the High School Cooperative Languages Program will last from Oct. 15 to May 16 and take place in buildings across Yale’s campus throughout the week. Programs in Educational Resources Director Margaret Marcotte said she expects between 100 and 125 high school students to enroll this year, with between 55 and 60 percent of these students coming from the New Haven Public School system and enrolling in Yale’s annual program for free.
“Our students understand that the world is getting smaller, so to speak,” Hillhouse High School Principal Kermit Carolina said. “The global economy we’re in now requires students to be able to speak a variety of languages.”
High School Cooperative Languages Program director Julia Hsieh GRD ’14 said providing the program for free to NHPS students gives more students the chance to learn languages that are not offered at their high schools.
Marcotte and Hsieh will incorporate a motivational survey into the programming this year to better understand why students are taking the uncommon language they choose, they said. With this information, Marcotte added, Yale can better tailor their classes to students’ needs.
Carolina added the opportunity for Hillhouse High School students to take courses on Yale’s campus also boosts their self-esteem in other academic subjects at their school.
In addition to beginner classes, the program will also offers second-year classes in Chinese, German and Japanese this year. Marcotte said eight students this year placed out of the levels and will attend Yale language classes daily instead.
Program tuition is $370, and PIER, the outreach program for the MacMillan Center, funds the classes and tuition for NHPS students with a federal Title VI grant.
Hsieh said teachers work to include more than just grammar and speaking into the curriculum. The teachers, who have taught at Yale and elsewhere in the state, also encourage students to engage with the culture associated with the languages they study.
“It really gives the kids a competitive edge if they take [their language] to continue in their college years,” Marcotte added.
Yale first offered the program over 25 years ago, Marcotte said.
The program traditionally draws the most students from surrounding towns such as Trumbull, Madison and Woodbridge.