Welcome to the World of Languages - Your Next Adventure Awaits
Where do you want to be in the world? Wherever that place may be, we can take you there. The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures doesn't just offer foreign language courses. It offers growth, personal challenges, and life experiences. Our courses bring you inside different cultures and allow you to connect with them not just intellectually, but personally. Spanish, French, German, Russian, Czech, Chinese and Japanese are not just sets of grammar rules and vocabulary lists. They are living, breathing organisms that are essential to understanding today's global, multicultural environment. Our job is to take you on a trip around the world. Are you in?
Why Should You Take a Foreign Language?
It has long been our belief that a degree in a modern language will supplement any other degree on this campus. One of our professors found this article online, 7 Languages That Will Make You Big Bucks, that proves this point. All 6 languages mentioned in the article are taught in our department, and the other language - Computer Programming - is also taught in our college. How can it help you? Contact us to find out!
Spotlight on Modern Languages:
Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Enkin
By Renee Pflughaupt
Dr. Liz Enkin, Assistant Professor of Spanish, is another new face in Modern Languages & Literatures. Enkin’s expertise: psycholinguistics. More specifically, Enkin’s passion rests in studying how the human mind learns a second language and creating teaching tools and techniques catering to these innate processes.
Enkin’s experience with second-language acquisition began at an early age. Her parents immigrated to the United States from St. Petersburg. While Enkin was born in Boston, she was raised speaking nothing but Russian by her grandparents. She set foot in preschool at the age of 5 without knowing a word of English.
The strange thing? Enkin doesn’t remember "learning" English.
"I have vague memories of not understanding what was being said to me," she said, "and suddenly understanding in kindergarten." This effortless transition fascinates Enkin to this day.
And it gets more interesting: Enkin is also fluent in Spanish. She can easily switch between Russian, Spanish and English – with a catch. In Spanish, she can pick out a word and translate it – such as a table, la mesa. Not so for Russian.
"When I think in Russian," she said, "it has to be in context. I would have to think ‘I put something on the table’ to remember the word."
These questions drew Enkin to psycholinguistics - in search of answers.
"It will definitely keep me busy," she said. "It’s a never-ending question… we can only theorize what’s going on in your brain."
And now, Enkin is attempting to bring these theories to the classroom.
Her current project is to create a classroom language-learning computer application. This app, once created, is called the Story Maze.
The story maze looks something like this: Two boxes appear on either side of the screen. A word is in one of the boxes. You press the left or right arrow key, based on where the word is.
Then two new boxes appear, each filled with a new word. You press on the right or left arrow key, based on which one feels like it grammatically follows the previous word. The process repeats until you reach the end of the sentence.
The user, by pressing left and right arrow keys, reads a full, linear sentence. Thus, the application’s name: the story maze.
And by creating this prototype into a full-fledged program, Enkin said, students will implicitly learn how to construct Spanish sentences.
"Implicit knowledge is where native language comes from," Enkin said. "We rely on the explicit domain, grammar and vocabulary, in our classrooms. We need it, but it’s being overused."
By providing students with the story maze, Enkin hopes to teach students how a language "feels" – which is the hardest part of all to teach. In addition, students’ work is simple to assess: the program automatically spits out completion speed times and errors once students complete a given task.
Enkin plans to continue bringing research and theories into the classroom in new and creative ways. "It’s one thing to figure out how a group learns a language," Enkin said. "But it’s another to figure out the individual. And that is where the pedagogical side comes in."
Enkin and her fiancé, Eric Kirschling, live together with their two cats, Chase and Scout. Her fiancé is currently pursuing a degree in ‘Nutritional Balancing,’ a new and upcoming health science. Outside of their studies and teaching, both frequently study the latest breakthroughs in health and wellness research.
NEW Fall Classes You Should Take!
- MODL/ENGL 234D: (Homo)eroticism, Film, and The Mann Dynasty
The Mann family was an icon of Germany in the 20th century: famous writers, a Nobel Prize, a respected historian, stately exiles in the face of Nazi barbarism. Its public face was one of success, of patrician dignity and cultural stature. On the inside, though, the family struggled with sexual repression, drug addiction, sibling rivalries, exile and suicide. More
- Meets MWF 1230-120
- Course code: 25048
- MODL 398: Japanese Popular Culture.
This course introduces students to contemporary trends of Japanese popular culture. All content is taught in English. More.
- Meets TR 200-315
- Course code: 4803
Special Topics Courses:
- FREN 4/898: Forbidden Love
Prof. Nora Peterson
- Meets TR 230-345
- Course code: 22124
- SPAN 4/898: Spanish in USA: Variation & Contact
Prof. Isabel Velázquez
- Meets Wednesdays 6pm - 8:20pm
- Course code: 4083
The Tutoring & Writing Center collaborates with Spanish students and their instructors to help them to become better communicators in the Spanish language, with a focus on writing. Consider stopping by to sharpen your writing skills!
Congrats to Amy on her Fulbright Award
Amy Millspaugh was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Germany.
Amy came to us in January 2012 and has been a crucial member of our German instruction team. As an undergraduate student, Amy went to Berlin for six and half months to attend our Deutsch in Deutschland (DiD) program. We annually take students, along with a UNL faculty member, to spend time in Germany. UNL students live with a host family, attend German university, and are immersed in all things German culture.
She is also an active member of the MLL Graduate Student Association. As social chair, she has planned a pot luck and other gatherings for our graduate students. Amy's smile will brighten up even the most dreary Nebraska day.
We are SO proud of you, Amy!
Our Students Rock
A number of our German students have received awards in 2013. We wish them best in their endeavors! Read all about it in the UNL Today archive.
- Garrett Allen (BA 2013, Philosophy)
DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service)--declined; Scholarship Foundation of the Berlin House of Representatives, to study philosophy in Berlin -- accepted for 2013/14; Berlin Program participant, 2012.
- Tanner Sorensen (BA 2013, German)
DAAD to study linguistics in a Masters program at a German university; Berlin Program participant, 2012.
- Amy Yungwirth Millspaugh (BA 2011, German, English, Secondary Education, currently graduate student in German, UNL)
Fulbright, English teaching assistant in Germany. Berlin Program participant, 2009.
DMLL produces a weekly newsletter during the Academic Year. Some headlines from our latest issue are:
- Spanish Tutoring Center Update
- Stedent Evaluations Available
- Have a GREAT Summer!
Previous newsletters from this semester:
- April 23
- April 16
- April 8
- April 1 (no foolin')
- March 26
- March 12
- March 5
- February 26
- February 19
- February 12
- February 5
- January 29
- January 15
- January 8
Feel free to browse through our newsletter archive below, listing newsletters dating back to Fall 2011.
- April 24
- April 24
- April 17
- April 10
- April 3
- March 27
- March 6
- February 28
- February 21
- February 14
- February 7
- January 31
- January 24
- January 17