Hillsdale College’s International Club relaunched its foreign language lessons this semester, offering nine languages students can only learn outside of the formal classroom at Hillsdale. The club also has tutors for students who speak English as their second language.
Although the foreign language program dwindled in past semesters, International Club President junior Ema Karakoleva said, it is putting this facet of the club first. She said she wants to respond to the demand from students wanting to learn tongues not taught in Hillsdale’s classrooms and sees a special opportunity in students practicing a new language with peers who hail from the country where that language is spoken.
“When you learn a language from someone from that country, not only can you learn the vocabulary and the grammar, but you can also learn about the culture,” Karakoleva said. “You learn details you can’t always pick up from a book.”
The classes will include Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Swahili, and Ukrainian.
In addition to the foreign language lessons, International Club Secretary senior Andrea Sommer, Secretary and Language Class Coordinator senior Rebekah Molloy, and senior Rachel Molloy are tutoring students who learned English as a second language. Rebekah Molloy said she and her colleagues will help ESL students with a range of issues, from crafting emails to their professors to proofreading their essays.
Karakoleva, a Bulgarian student, said she hopes the club will help all ESL students improve their English. There are 28 international students on campus.
International Club tutors hold lessons in A.J.’s Café, offering both group and one-on-one sessions. The teachers and students organize lessons, according to their mutual availability.
International Club Vice President sophomore Nour Ben Hmieida teaches Arabic and has three students committed to lessons, which will begin soon. Although Arabic is her mother tongue, the Libyan native speaks English fluently, having lived in the United States since she was 11 years old.
Hmieida said she starts her beginners by teaching the Arabic alphabet, before advancing to common vocabulary and colloquial phrases. She also shares information about the culture of Arabic-speaking nations.
“Hospitality is a big thing in our culture, like it is in most cultures,” Hmieida said. “But Arabs take it 10 steps past what they need to. They’re very hospitable with their food and their kindness to their guests.”
Rebekah Molloy said learning even a little of the languages offered by the International Club tutors will challenge Hillsdale students to grow — especially because Hillsdale only teaches French, German, Greek, Latin, and Spanish as well as a few courses in Hebrew.
“Words are all we have,” Rebekah Molloy said. “You look at the world in a different way through different languages. Language is an incredible way to embrace different cultures.”
Students interested in signing up for the International Club’s lessons can email Rebekah Molloy at firstname.lastname@example.org.