The Humanities Division at UCLA hosted their annual World Languages Day in Bruin Plaza on September 28, 2018. This year, the program was sponsored by the College of Letters and Science, Division of Humanities; the Department of French & Francophone Studies; the Department of Germanic Languages; the Department of Slavic, Eastern European & Eurasian Languages & Cultures; and the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures.

The purpose of World Languages Day is to provide students with an opportunity to discover different languages offered at UCLA, and affiliated clubs, programs and cultural activities on campus. More than 300 UCLA students stopped by the various booths in Bruin Plaza to speak to representatives from 14 different departments that represented 29 different languages spoken at UCLA. The 14 departments featured in this year’s event included the following:

To learn more about World Languages Day at UCLA, two of the original founders of the event, Dr. Hoang Truong, Continuing Lecturer in the Department of Italian, and Dr. Laurence Denié-Higney, Senior Lecturer in the Department of French & Francophone Studies, answered a few questions about the history and importance of this event. Dr. Truong said that her and Dr. Denié-Higney’s involvement in the planning of World Languages Day dates back to 2009. “World Languages Day was started in 2009 sponsored by the Department of Italian and organized by students of Italian Club,” said Dr. Truong. “I helped students with the organization, promotion and getting funds from CEES, Center of World Languages, and the Department of Italian. The following year, the Department of French & Francophone studies joined and then the Department of Germanic Languages.”

Dr. Truong explained that during the following year, Dr. Denié-Higney, Dr. Magda Tarnawska Senel (Germanic Languages) and Dr. Truong approached Dean Schaberg for his sponsorship of World Languages Day and to make it an annual event. With the foundation of the organization and funding in place, they decided to rotate the department sponsorship each year, which means that there will always be at least three departments sponsoring the event each year. “Last year,” said Dr. Truong, “the Department of Italian and its club stepped aside from the organization, to be just a participant, and the Department of French & Francophone studies took the lead along with the Department of Germanic Languages and the Department of Asian Languages & Culture. This year, it was lead by Near Eastern Languages & Cultures, French & Francophone Studies, Germanic Languages, and Slavic, Eastern European & Eurasian Languages & Cultures.”

When asked what they hope that students take away from campus events such as World Languages Day, Dr. Truong and Dr. Denié-Higney stated that they “hope that students find joy in learning another language and appreciate the enrichment that another culture gives to our personal and professional growth.” Another hope for the event is that it “showcases all the languages taught on campus so students are aware of their options.”

Dr. Truong’s favorite memory from World Languages Day is “when students find that they know more Italian than previously thought, by simply looking at a restaurant menu and what a grocery store carries.” For Dr. Denié-Higney, she appreciates “when undergraduate students share their love for the language they are learning, and they are encouraging their peers to learn and expand their horizons.”

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the departments, professors and students who plan World Languages Day annually, UCLA undergraduates are able to immerse themselves in more than 40 diverse languages offered at UCLA.