In September, the University of Cincinnati will become one of only a handful of universities across the country with a language-immersion house – a free-standing residence where students are required to live, work, study and play “24-7” in another language.
|Students Julie Hollyday, left, and Elizabeth Mayersky will both live on the Spanish floor of UC's Valentine House.|
Seed funding for the house – in the form of $100,000 – was made possible by former UC Spanish student Margaret Valentine, who currently teaches Spanish to home-schooled children. She explained, “I was lucky in that my mother arranged for me to take Spanish lessons when I was four years old. By the time I finished elementary school, I was fluent.”
Valentine added that she sees the language house as an educational asset. “Immersion, learning and studying a language and living in another culture as much as possible are requisites for language acquisition among college students,” she said. “It’s an option for students who may not have the opportunity to study abroad and an added value to draw top students to language studies at UC.”
UC’s language-immersion house makes perfect sense given the dramatic rise in enrollment in foreign-language classes both at UC and nationally. Explained Jones, “The demand for language courses is expanding rapidly in several directions. For one, Spanish is exploding. We have 20 percent more Spanish majors this year over last. All languages are seeing their numbers rise, but Spanish trumps them all. We cannot offer enough Spanish sections, cannot find enough teachers…”
“French and Portuguese are also rising… Two years ago, we offered no Arabic. Now, we’re in our second year with 60 students. We went from zero to 60 like that,” she said while snapping her fingers.
To facilitate language learning in Valentine House, the living environment will include:
Valentine House actually consists of one half of the building at 2629 Clifton Ave. The other half of the house is designated for UC’s Taft Scholars.
Of the Valentine half of the house, one floor is devoted to French language immersion, while another floor is devoted for Spanish language immersion. Eleven undergraduate students live on each language floor. Amenities include:
In addition, both floors will share: