Language Motion Clarification
Action on the motion regarding the foreign language element of the UM General Education Program
was postponed at the last meeting of the Faculty Senate for lack of sufficient time for debate and
because several departments had concerns about the proposed motion that needed to be considered.
In the time since the motion was introduced, comments from several departments and ASUM have
been received by ASCRC that may inform the debate on the motion. The principal points raised in the
comments are summarized below:
The motion adds a new requirement for students that may lengthen the time needed to complete a
The added requirements narrow the range of electives a department/program or student may
include in a major, minor or option.
The University of Montana has a standing general education requirement for foreign language (Group
III) with an exception for symbolic systems as described. The current motion essentially defines more
clearly how to determine whether a language or symbolic systems are appropriate to meet the
requirement for Group III.
- No new general education requirement is being added
- No additional credits are required to graduate
- Test out options apply
- The requirement will provide high schools with an incentive to improve language instruction
- The Montana Digital Academy is working to expose students to subjects that might not be
offered in their schools. Six languages are currently offered.
The motion is a mandate proposed by ASCRC that contravenes departmental and faculty governance
of the curriculum.
In 2009 the Faculty Senate requested that ASCRC and the Gen Ed Committee review the 2007 language
requirement with regard to when exceptions/exemptions should apply.
The number of students who will be required to take language courses is under-represented.
Uncounted students in certain options may increase numbers by as much as 100 students.
Students may not be able to select preferred languages because of increased demand.
MCLL performed a survey of all language classes offered at the request of ASCRC. The average number
of seats available from fall 2009 through spring 2013 in all currently approved language courses is 1745
and is estimated to be sufficient to accommodate incoming students.
Some languages (Spanish) do have more requests than available seats in fall semester. This is for several
reasons, among them perceived ease of learning. This spring however there are empty seats even in
Spanish, so while students may not be able to get a preferred language in a particular semester, they
should be able to do so in following terms.
Some languages—American Sign Language and Blackfeet, for example—have not requested approval for
language designation. We encourage them to do so.
Students may be discouraged from seeking double majors because of the language requirement.
The motion language makes exception for minors and options within majors and presumably that
exception will be extended to double or multiple majors.
Transfer students may be discouraged by the language requirement.
The language requirement is in the catalog now. Students who transfer from within the MUS may
complete their general education using the MUS transferable core. (See BOR Policy 301.10) Extending
reciprocity to transfers from outside the MUS has been proposed to BOR. Students that enter the
university having completed an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree are not required to take
additional general education classes at the 100 or 200 level.