Evening & Weekend Studies

Spring 2013 Stories

Evergreen and SPSCC Partner to Expand Foreign Language Options

By Asmaa’ Bint Abdul-Azeem

Elena Smith with Student Image
(left) Elena Smith with student Daniel Raloff

More options for foreign language study. That’s the idea driving discussions about a new consortium agreement between Evergreen, St. Martin’s University and South Puget Sound Community College. The plan allows Evergreen students to take foreign language classes at St. Martin’s and SPSCC, and students from St. Martin’s and SPSCC to also take foreign language classes at Evergreen.

This fall, three SPSCC students came to Evergreen through an agreement, which was finalized last summer. They joined Beginning Russian the first quarter the option was offered. “The idea behind the agreement is that students can receive financial aid while registering at their home institution to take language classes that aren’t available there but are available at one of the other institutions,” says Allen Olson, Evergreen Dean of Evening and Weekend Studies. “SPSCC students can experience Evergreen’s teaching style while they are still finishing their associate’s degree. This may help them as they consider their choices for going on to work toward a bachelor’s degree.”

One goal of Russian faculty member and native speaker Elena Smith is to move students beyond textbooks to conversation and learning from each other. “I use a communicative and holistic approach to teaching language,” explains Smith, who came from Siberia in 2006 to teach language arts. She is the first Evergreen faculty to work with students from SPSCC through the new consortium agreement, and her students learn the language within a rich and colorful cultural context. “This experiment is a success,” Smith says. “I’m happy to have a class of very motivated students, and the students are happy because they feel their academic efforts are well-invested.”

Ryan Knight, a junior at Tumwater High School and a full-time Running Start student at SPSCC, is one of those students. “The language is difficult, but I know more now after one quarter of taking Russian than I expected,” he says. “If you’re interested in Russian, take this class.”