UCSD Language Program Faces Possible Cuts

Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California, CA
Nov 7 2004

Language Program Faces Possible Cuts

UCSD Guardian Staff Writer

The UCSD Heritage Language Program is in financial danger because of
university budgetary issues and could be cut midway through the year,
according to Robert Kluender, chair of the linguistics department.

`At this point, we don’t have enough money to get through the year,’
he said. `Every year we have a bit of trouble, but this one is
especially hard.’

The program began in 2001, when a graduate student started an
informal Armenian language class, which quickly gained popularity.

This unplanned beginning precluded any long-term financial planning
for the Heritage Language Program according to Kluender. He also said
university budget cuts pose an additional burden for the program.

The program is geared toward `heritage speakers,’ which Kluender
defined as `those who were exposed to their native language in
childhood but became dominant in English later in life.’

`There seemed to be quite a response initially,’ Kluender said. `In
response to that, we tried to add on more languages to the program.’

The strongest interest in the program comes from students whose
speaking ability doesn’t reach their comprehension level of their
native language, according to Kluender.

It includes Persian, Armenian, Korean, Tagalog and Vietnamese
languages. Arabic had been offered previously, but was not included
this fall.

`The program really serves students that want to know more of their
native language,’ Vietnamese American Youth Alliance Committee chair
Tri Nguyen said. `It builds on the foundation that you already have
of your language.’

Campus administrators said they have responded to demand for the
program, as Dean of Social Sciences Paul Drake granted a special
allocation of $48,000 to the Heritage Language program last summer.

`We thought it was a very innovative, creative and exciting program,’
Drake said. `It could be a great service to the San Diego community.’

Kluender is drafting a grant request to the U.S. Department of
Education for funds for South Asian studies, which would benefit
Heritage Language Programs such as Vietnamese and Tagalog.

While he is grateful for the administration’s aid, Kluender said more
money is needed to keep the young Heritage Language Program afloat.

Various UCSD student organizations have responded to the cause. For
example, the Vietnamese Students Associations at UCSD and San Diego
State and VAYA held a `Saving Language, Saving Diversity’ concert at
a San Diego high school on Oct. 16.

The concert raised approximately $8,171, according to Nguyen, far
short of the $47,000 needed to fund the Vietnamese Heritage Language
Program this year.

The concert featured traditional Vietnamese performances as well as
modern native Vietnamese singers.

`People were really supportive,’ said concert attendee and Thurgood
Marshall College freshman Jaclene Le. `It was a really good effort
and there were a lot of sponsors.’

The groups banded together for the event in order to provide
additional funds to the program, according to a letter sent to
possible sponsors.

`As part of the effort to save the Heritage Language Program at UCSD,
we are organizing a Heritage Concert to raise funds for this
excellent program,’ VAYA stated in the letter. `Due to our limited
budget, we have to look for sponsorships from individuals, businesses
and organizations … who, in return, may benefit from sponsoring
this project.’

The Vietnamese sections of the program are the most popular among
students, with three class sections of approximately 30 students each
during the current quarter, according to Kluender.

The UCSD Pilipino Students Saving Tagalog group has also been
involved in aiding the language program, hosting charity banquets the
past two years for the Tagalog Heritage Language Program, in
conjunction with UCSD Kaibigang Pilipino. The groups plan to sponsor
another similar banquet during winter quarter, according to KP
Academic Director and PSST core member Jimiliz Valiente.

Kluender said that he had reached out to student organizations for

`Everyone seems very motivated,’ he said. `We need the student
organizations to reach out to the community for support of the