Newswise — AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin is now home to Partners for Languages in the United States (PLUS), a nonprofit member-based organization designed to advance language education to the highest levels of professional proficiency.
Housed in the College of Liberal Arts’ Texas Language Center, PLUS works as an accrediting body for university-level programs that meet high levels of language instruction standards through a peer-review process.
Thomas Garza, associate professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies and director of the Texas Language Center, says PLUS is a valuable asset for foreign language programs at UT Austin and universities across the nation.
“In an increasingly globalized world, language skills are no longer a luxury—they are an essential part of being a global citizen,” says Garza, who serves as executive director of PLUS. “Now with PLUS under our umbrella, UT Austin is well on its way to becoming one of the premiere sites for language instruction.”
Garza says PLUS will especially benefit the college’s two flagship programs in Arabic and Hindi Urdu, which are designed to give students advanced foreign language proficiency through intensive language instruction and summer immersion programs.
By combining advanced language courses with PLUS resources, students will have the opportunity to master professional proficiency in a second language. This highly valuable skill will allow them to work in other countries and compete in the global marketplace, Garza says.
PLUS offers several benefits and services, including:
•Participation in committee activities, including standards development, peer-review assessment and research
•Workshops, seminars and conferences on standards and accreditation
•Open access to the latest data on language acquisition results
•Articles, workshops and presentations on language skill development
•Information on the latest technologies and their application to language learning
•Professional development opportunities, including collaboration with experts and colleagues in all language programs across the nation
“We are delighted to welcome PLUS into the College of Liberal Arts,” says Richard Flores, senior associate dean in the college’s Office of Academic Affairs. “This new partnership expands the College of Liberal Arts’ mission to help students better understand — and ultimately thrive in — the world beyond campus.”