News Briefs

No longer called “Foreign Languages.”

By Hanna Chen


Previously known as the “Foreign Languages” department, this school faction has converted its title to “World Languages and Cultures.” Over the past 20-30 years, various language teaching departments at other institutions have already made the title conversion from “Foreign” to either “Modern” or “World” Languages. Examples feature neighboring schools, such as CSU Monterey Bay’s “World Languages and Cultures” department and San Francisco State University’s “Modern Languages and Literatures” department.


The catalyst for this change is due to the fact that the languages taught at CCSF are not foreign to the continental United States. Prior to British arrival, colonization from non-English speaking countries took place under Spanish and Russian rule in the 1700s. Large Chinese populations arrived during the Gold Rush and construction of the Transcontinental Railroad of the 1800s. In more contemporary timelines, many San Francisco residents continue to grow up with non-English languages as their first language. These include Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, Pil (also known as Tagalog) and even American Sign Language.


Carol H. Reitan, chair of the World Languages and Cultures department, has stated “The addition of ‘Cultures’ is to highlight the cultural aspect of languages and to include our culture and civilization courses that we offer (most in English – some in Spanish and Chinese).” Attaching cultures to the end of the department’s title, the purpose is to acknowledge the livelihood that often accompanies the variety of world languages.

3 thoughts on “No longer called “Foreign Languages.”

  • Dr. Michele Santamaria

    * Pardon me Ms. Chen, I mistyped your last name.

  • Dr. Michele Santamaria

    * PS: I meant World Languages and Cultures and World Languages and Literatures above. Thank you.

  • Dr. Michele Santamaria

    Hello Ms. Chan,
    I would like to emphasize that Carol H. Reitan is the Chair of Foreign Language Department. So the only Colleges that use World Language and Cultures or World Languages and Cultures are CSUMB, whose Chair was Professor Yoshiko Saito now Prof. Shigeiko Sekine and San Jose State led by Chair Professor Damian Bacich.

    Thank you for your correction.

    Dr. Michele Santamaria
    Italian Adjunct Professor at CSUMB and SJSU

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