The operational scale of RLL’s Elementary Language Program contributes significantly to the unique character of our department, while also underscoring our singular contribution to the pedagogical mission of LSA. RLL offers a four-semester sequence of elementary language instruction in French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish (Catalan is not offered in the elementary language program but is available through the Upper-Level Spanish curriculum). Language classes in RLL are designed according to the communicative language teaching approach. Students are exposed to language, cultural content, intercultural approaches, and critical thinking through the practice of listening, reading, speaking, and writing in the target language. Technology is integral to the curriculum, both in class and at home, since the majority of RLL language courses have an online platform to complement their learning and to help students prepare for class. The sequence of the four semesters of instruction for French and Spanish are: 100, 101, 102 or 103 (the latter entails 101 and 102 in one semester), 230, 231, and 232. In Italian and Portuguese, the four-semester sequence is: 101, 102, 231, and 232. A fourth-semester ‘topics’ course that is more culture content-based is offered in Italian, French, and Spanish, as an alternative to a standard fourth-semester course. We are currently developing a third semester ‘topics’ course in Spanish (SPAN 231 Topics).
ELP student enrollments are central to understanding the scale of our curricular operation and the uniqueness of our pedagogical mission. For example, in the calendar year from fall semester 2017 to the end of the summer term 2018, RLL was responsible for teaching 5,700 undergraduate students in the ELP alone. These numbers have increased since then, along with overall undergraduate admissions in the University. As a result, from fall semester 2018 to the end of the summer term 2019, RLL taught 5,964 students in the ELP; from fall 2019 to summer term 2020, 6,215 undergraduate students; and from fall 2020 to summer 2021, 6,412 undergraduate students.
Once we calculate in the numbers of Upper-Level (major/minor) enrollments that our department attracts and serves—that is, the 200-400 level major/minor courses beyond the ELP in which we teach our undergraduates critical thinking, writing skills, and cultural-historical knowledge in the target language itself—we see that RLL is teaching a one semester total of 4,500+ undergraduate students in the ELP and U-L combined, with more than 550 declared departmental majors and minors. In Fall semester 2020 we taught 4,462 undergraduate students in total. In Winter semester 2021 we taught 4,351 enrolled students, for a total of 8,813 undergraduate students in RLL classrooms during the regular two-semester 2020-21 academic year. Once we add to this number the undergraduate enrollments from Term III (Spring/Summer terms), we see that RLL serves upward of 9,000 undergraduate students across the ELP and Upper-Levels, per twelve-month academic cycle. For all the above, RLL is perhaps the LSA unit that has the greatest impact on undergraduate students on an individual level, that is, in classroom settings in which instructors know their students by name as opposed to sitting in a large lecture course.