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Department of Languages welcomes new chair, new faculty, offers new minor, more

NB--The Department of Languages will hold an open house on Monday-Tuesday, August 25 and 26, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the main lobby of Wilson Hall. Unnold says, “This is an opportunity for the community to learn about our great programs and to meet our faculty; it will also be a last-minute opportunity to sign up for language courses for the fall semester.”

Aug. 13, 2008 -
- The nineteenth-century physician-poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. said, “Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run, and out of which they grow.” In the twenty-first century, as improved communications networks bring global perspectives closer to home, learning languages remains a vital part of a college education.

Arkansas State University’s Department of Languages is embracing the new frontiers of globalization as it welcomes a new chair, new faculty, and new course offerings, including courses in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and Swahili, in addition to French, German, and Spanish. The department is also offering a new minor in International Studies, an interdisciplinary minor that features an upper-level language component combined with selected courses from the humanities and social sciences as well as business. ASU’s Department of Languages is truly committed to usher in a new era of language studies.

Dr. Yvonne Unnold, associate professor of German and Spanish, serves as the new chair of the Department of Languages in the College of Humanities and SocialDr. Yvonne Unnold, new chair of ASU's Department of Languages, will teach Spanish and German courses this fall. Sciences at ASU. Dr. Unnold has extensive teaching experience at both university level and secondary education levels and moved to Jonesboro from Hamburg, Germany. She has taught Spanish, German, and English as a Second Language (ESL) in Costa Rica, Mexico, the U.S., and Germany.  Under Dr. Unnold’s leadership, the Department of Languages seeks to reach out to the ASU community and encourages all students to enrich their lives through learning a second language starting in their freshman year. Dr. Unnold says, “Learning another language and exploring a new culture truly changed my life and enabled me to pursue professional opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been accessible for me; I know that learning a second language would do the same for any student at ASU.”

Dr. Unnold notes that the Department of Languages exists to serve the community through excellent language programs tailored to meet the needs of both the beginning language learner (no language experience required for any introductory language course at ASU) and the more advanced speaker. Department faculty and staff are committed to advising students on an individual basis. Unnold says, “We will help students find the class best suited to meet their individual learning needs. We offer language placement and retroactive credit through challenge exams and want to encourage everyone to stop by at our office at Wilson Hall, Room 220, to get appropriate advising, to find out about our many programs, and to meet our great faculty.”

Indeed, the faculty of the Department of Languages is growing and becoming truly international. On the Spanish side, the Department is pleased to welcome a new tenure-track faculty member, Dr. Juan Pablo Gil-Oslé, as well as international instructors from Spain and Colombia. Dr. Juan Pablo Gil-Oslé joins ASU faculty this fall as assistant professor of Spanish. Dr. Gil-Oslé received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2007 and has previously taught at the University of Michigan as well as working as a translator of Spanish, French, and Basque. Also recently confirmed in their appointments are Gabriela Varela-Sánchez from ASU’s partner university, Universidad de Huelva, who will join the department as a full time instructor, and Luis Bernal from Colombia, who has been awarded a graduate assistantship to teach Spanish. To make Spanish courses more available to the community, elementary and introductory Spanish courses are now offered through ASU-Jonesboro at the Paragould campus starting this fall.

On the German side, the Department of Languages at ASU welcomes Jonesboro resident Hanne Pardos, of Mannheim, Germany, as a new instructor. Starting this fall, Ms. Pardos will teach German Conversation, as well as elementary and intermediate German at ASU. Under joint leadership of Dr. Unnold and Ms. Pardos, the Stammtisch, an ASU tradition, will start meeting again on a weekly basis. Loosely translated, the Stammtisch is a regular get-together of German speakers; it provides an intercultural opportunity to share lunch and conversation open to all who are interested in chatting in German, exchanging ideas and building a supportive environment for persons interested in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. Stammtisch provides an opportunity to share and explore insights into those culture and traditions. Stammtisch will meet on Fridays at noon at the Edge Coffeehouse, 1900 Aggie Road, Jonesboro, (870) 932-3114. La Tertulia, the Spanish language equivalent of Stammtisch, and Le Cercle Français, the French equivalent, will also resume in the fall semester.

In French, the Department of Languages is also pleased to welcome Marion Chatelin to her new position as graduate assistant in French starting this fall. Ms. Chatelin first came to ASU as part of the undergraduate exchange program with Université de Cergy-Pontoise; she has since completed her degree at Cergy and has now returned to engage in graduate studies in ASU’s MBA program. Ms. Chatelin will be teaching two classes of elementary French for the Department of Languages and will be assisting Dr. Warren Johnson in community outreach activities such as the weekly Le Cercle Français. As part of the Department’s effort to reach out to new students, for the first time, elementary French willl now also be offered through ASU-Jonesboro at the Paragould campus.

The Department of Languages is making a strong effort toward enhancing course offerings in world languages; indeed, in addition to the traditional languages of Spanish, French and German, starting this fall semester, ASU students can enroll in introductory courses in Arabic, Swahili, and Chinese. Part of the accelerated language offerings, these courses enable students to complete traditional two-year language program in just one year of study. All courses are taught by experienced native speakers: Fulbright Foreign Language teaching assistant Myrna Abdallah joins the Department from Lebanon to teach Arabic; Isaac Ong'oa, from Kenya, has been awarded a graduate assistantship to teach Swahili; and  Xiaoyun Wu, from China, is returning to ASU to teach courses in Mandarin Chinese. Concurrently, Ms. Abdallah will pursue a Master’s degree in ASU’s English program; Ms. Wu and Mr. Ong’oa are international doctoral students in ASU’s Heritage Studies Ph.D. program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Despite all the new faces in the Department of Languages, ASU’s language programs would not be what they are today if it weren’t for the department’s outstanding team of distinguished permanent faculty: Dr. Robert Baum, associate professor of Spanish; Dr. Warren Johnson, associate professor of French and Spanish; Dr. Ernesto Lombeida, associate professor of Spanish; Dr. Ruth Supko Owens, associate professor of Spanish, and director of Foreign Language Education and of ASU’s Costa Rican Studies program; and Ms. Ana Romero, Instructor of Spanish and native of Spain.

The Department of Languages will hold an open house on Monday-Tuesday, August 25 and 26, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the main lobby of Wilson Hall. Unnold says, “This is an opportunity for the community to learn about our great programs and to meet our faculty; it will also be a last-minute opportunity to sign up for language courses for the fall semester.”

For more information on classes, contact ASU’s Department of Languages, at (870) 972-3887 or by e-mailing Visit the Department of Languages in Wilson Hall, Room 220, or see their website,




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