Blinn College foreign language classes open world of opportunities

Blinn offers Spanish, Czech, French and American Sign Language classes

June 23, 2021

Foreign language classes at Blinn College can open a world of opportunities – literally.

Blinn offers classes in Spanish, French, Czech, and American Sign Language (ASL), which can form the foundation for a wide range of careers domestically and abroad. At Blinn, students can earn Associate of Arts (AA) degrees in Spanish and ASL and can complete French and Czech transfer courses. Blinn also offers a certificate in Czech.

Czech is offered on the Schulenburg Campus and can be taken remotely online. French, ASL, and Spanish classes are offered on the Bryan Campus. Blinn’s AA degrees in Spanish and ASL can both be completed entirely online.

Learning a foreign language provides benefits that go far beyond being able to hold a conversation, said Dr. Pat Westergaard, Dean of Humanities.

“Being bilingual increases job opportunities around the world, especially with multi-national companies,” Westergaard said. “It’s definitely an asset to anyone’s resume.

American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual-gestural language approach containing a variety of grammatical structures such as body language, facial expressions, classifiers, semantics, mouth morphemes, and parameters. Approximately 6 million deaf people in the United States use ASL as their primary mode of communication, making it the third most widely used language in the United States.

Blinn has articulation agreements for its ASL Program with Lamar University, University of Houston, Texas Tech University, and Baylor University. ASL Coordinator Robyn J. Marcak said job opportunities in that field include serving as interpreters for the deaf, teachers for the deaf, counselors for the deaf, educators for the deaf, and advocates for deaf people.

Blinn's ASL Program has transfer articulation agreements with Lamar University, University of Houston, Texas Tech University, and Baylor University.

An AA degree in Spanish provides the basis for students to enter a number of careers, including criminal justice, court interpreting, with governmental agencies, business international relations, education, social work, medicine, the arts, and humanitarian work.

“Language is culture, and by learning another language, one is able to better understand other cultures and ways of thinking about and processing world matters,” said Irma Valdez, Foreign Language Department Head.

Czech Instructor Thadious Polasek said studying foreign languages exposes students to new and different culture.” That’s particularly true in Texas, which had Czech immigrants arriving in the state as early as the 1820s.

“The Czechs have a folk saying – ‘The number of languages one knows, that is how many times you are a person,’” Polasek said. “That means that your ability to empathize with another person increases. Also, foreign language increases listening and memory skills. Studying a foreign grammar develops heightened analytical skills.

“Studying Czech opens the door to many central European cultures. Students of Czech ancestry discover how rich their ancestral heritage is and the meaning and history of the names of Texas Czech communities.”

Blinn is one of the few colleges in Texas offering Czech language classes for college credit and continuing education.

Debbie Bartley, who has completed two semesters of Czech classes, said taking the course is a way to get in touch with her heritage.

“I’ve always wanted to learn,” Bartley said. “My maternal grandparents’ family is from the old country – Moravia – having immigrated in the mid- to late 1800s. We learned words as children spending time with my grandparents and great-grandparents but did not learn the language.”

Bartley said Polasek has been an exceptional teacher.

“I have recommended his classes to anyone who will listen to me,” she said. “In fact, through Facebook, I’ve let many people and Czech groups I’m connected with know about his classes.

“Thadious Polasek is a joy to learn from and is very encouraging. It is so obvious he loves the language, as he grew up with the Moravian dialect as his native language. I’m grateful to have found Mr. Polasek and look forward to learning more from him.”

Valdez said French is spoken by about 220 million people on five continents. French is both a working and official language of the United Nations; the European Union; the United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization; NATO; the International Olympic Committee; the International Red Cross; and international courts.

Texas A&M University accepts Blinn’s Spanish classes, and the University of Texas accepts its Czech classes.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national demand for interpreters and translators is expected to grow 20% between 2019 and 2029. The annual median pay in 2020 was $52,330.

More information on Blinn’s foreign languages program is available at www.blinn.edu/foreign-language.

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