April 06, 2020

In the Jan. 3-4 Bangor Daily News, Carol Howe of Rockland asks: “Does the university have anyone teaching Bulgarian as a second language — and if not, why not?”

I would like Howe and others to know that when the Critical Languages Program was established by me six years ago, following a national language program model, Bulgarian was one of the five languages we chose to offer in an alternative teaching setting. All languages have native speaker drill instructors in small-group settings. The other languages we began with were: Portuguese, Modern Greek, Japanese, and Italian. Unfortunately, Bulgarian has had very few students.

Information about AUBG does give the impression that one can go to study or work in Bulgaria without learning to speak the national language, and for at least one student, the paperwork was so complicated that she had little time for language training.

Since the original offerings, we have added Vietnamese, Irish Gaelic, Turkish, Mandarin, and now will add Arabic. Spansh and French have been among our courses as well. If there is interest, we will offer Swahili and Croatian. We have had classes in Spanish at Ellsworth and Greenville and are prepared to have other languages available at distance sites around Maine. In fact, as long as we have three students, we can provide the instruction. We can potentially offer six semesters of training for most languages.

I do not mean for this to sound like an advertisement. My intention is to indicate how committed the University of Maine is to international education and, within that, to language instruction. I am happy to receive queries about what we are doing. I say we, because as professor of Spanish and director of the Critical and Practical Languages Program, I work in conjunction with the outstanding Continuing Education unit in the Division of Lifelong Learning.

It is so encouraging to read letters like Howe’s which show a concern for multilingualism. Kathleen March Professor of Spanish Director Critical Languages Program Department of Modern Languages and Classics University of Maine Orono

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