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Paul LeClerc, director of Columbia’s Paris global center, right, is looking to increase English language course offerings at Columbia's Reid Hall program.

Parlez-vous français? If not, you'll still be able to study abroad in the City of Lights.

Paul LeClerc, director of Columbia's Paris global center, wants more non-French speakers to be able to study in Paris—the most popular study abroad destination for undergraduates. 

LeClerc is planning to expand English course offerings at Reid Hall, which has long housed Columbia's Parisian study abroad programs and was revamped into a global center in 2010. The new offerings could include Art Humanities and Music Humanities classes.

“The existing undergraduate programs here are francophone programs,” LeClerc said. “We're talking about another generation of programs, where you won't have to have such a capacity in French—basically, the instruction will be in English.”

Departments are finishing up proposals to bring new English courses to Paris “in the foreseeable future,” Michael Pippenger, the dean of undergraduate global programs, said.

“Once these proposals have been vetted and reviewed by the necessary faculty committees, we will have an announcement to make about that,” Pippenger said. “In the meantime, we want students to know that this may be an option, so that they can plan accordingly.”

The emphasis on English courses isn't limited to Reid Hall, which houses programs from Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania. Pippenger said the trend toward English is manifesting itself more generally in Columbia's study abroad programs.

“I would say 30 or 40 years ago, there was a tremendous focus on area studies,” Pippenger said. “That model still holds for some students who have that academic interest and that desire to focus in that kind of a way, but we also know that there are many students who would be left out of that model.”

Pippenger said that students often excluded in this model are those interested in the sciences, who don't necessarily need a command of a foreign language to do research abroad.

“We continue to develop new programs that might be taught in English abroad, but have an invaluable experience embedded within them for our students in terms of perusing field studies, scientific research on the ground,” Pippenger said. “But we also continue to develop with our faculty courses taught abroad that empower our students to gain very specific field experiences that might make more sense for them to do in English.”

He cited taking science courses, working in a laboratory, participating in an archeological dig, or doing field research as examples of activities the new Reid courses will entail. 

Students said that they were intrigued by the idea of taking English classes in Paris.

“Mostly, I've been interesting in studying abroad, but it's hard to during the semester,” Daniel Barg, CC '17, said. “I'm mostly interested in Paris because I've taken a good amount of French.”

“I'm an engineering student, and I've always been interested in valuing both sides of my brain,” Sidney Perkins, SEAS '17, said. “I want to study abroad and enhance the humanities side in my brain, particularly at Reid Hall.”  |  @ezactron

study abroad Reid Hall Global Centers Paris
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