OCCC’s Modern Language Program Expands Offerings

By Britton Summers – Pioneer Reporter


(PIONEER) In our interconnected world, having the ability to speak and understand another language is a key skill that gives you the opportunity to engage with the world in a more meaningful way.

Experts say the benefits of learning other languages include connecting with others, advancing your career, feeding your brain, and boosting your confidence.

Fortunately, students have the opportunity to learn another language in a new set of Modern Language courses offered here at Oklahoma City Community College, which started in the fall semester of 2021.

Ginnett Rollins, longtime professor of Modern Languages, said that OCCC has two language majors: A French major and a Spanish major. They also resumed their German major after they stopped offering it in 2017. There will be 9 or 10 classes during the fall. 

Ginnett Rollins, professor of OCCC Modern Languages (Photo by Britton Summers)

“WE ALSO HAVE OFFERED OTHER LANGUAGES SUCH AS JAPANESE AND CHINESE, ARABIC AND VIETNAMESE IN THE PAST” – GINNETT ROLLINS

Rollins explained that learning other languages has created great benefits for her students. She said languages contribute to students’ development and can improve their SAT scores, more so than any other study. 

She added that hospitals can give better salaries to doctors if they know languages other than English and noted that other majors like business and geology can benefit from this as well. 

“Modern language has always been considered one of the essential parts of a well-rounded education for a student,” Rollins said.

Rollins has been particularly enthusiastic about teaching the Native American Potawatomi language, which is starting in the fall of 2022. 

She said the Potawatomi and other Native American languages incorporate a lot of their cultural background and history into the language. 

“We’re hoping to be able to cross-list our Potawatomi language with the humanities, to get it offered and accepted as a humanity,” Rollins said. 

Rollins highlighted the existence of the French and German language classes because she wants OCCC students to know that they have several options when it comes to learning foreign languages.

She explained that the program follows guidelines from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language to determine what students should be able to achieve by the time they finish four semesters of a language class during college. 

She said Modern Language students have assignments wherein they get to speak to a native French speaker for 15 minutes after studying the language throughout the semester. Although assignments like this help students practice with native speakers, Rollins said that students would need a little more practice before they could travel to other countries and speak fluently. 

“Generally, the hope would be that you would be intermediate, mid to high, when you finish your fourth course,” Rollins said. 

She also said that if students really wanted to get into learning other languages, television shows like soap operas, reading newspapers written in the language they’re studying, and using technology such as Duolingo and Pimsleur are great ways to improve their skills. 

Rollins further noted that she had seen many students benefit enormously from taking what they had learned in class and going out into the world and using it in their lives and jobs. 

For instance, Rollins said that a former student had happened upon a car accident, wherein one of the drivers only spoke Spanish. The student was able to communicate with the driver and keep them calm while waiting for help to arrive.

“Speaking a second language is a very good compliment to whatever your goal is,” she said.