Funding for fluency: Grants support summer language study

Becoming fluent in another language can be an integral component to humanities students’ studies, but for many, juggling language classes with additional coursework requirements, teaching assistantships, and other responsibilities can prove challenging during the academic year. To support summer learning opportunities, the Graduate School offers Summer Foreign Language Grants that can help alleviate the stress.

Thirteen doctoral students were awarded grants for 2023, with destinations including France, Germany, Indonesia, Jordan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and remote instruction from research locations for language instruction in Arabic, Cantonese, French, German, Malay, Mandarin, Ottoman, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.

For some, the summer program is a useful way to gain the language skills they need when classes do not fit into their schedules during the year. Summer programs abroad are considered especially helpful, as they not only provide language instruction, but an immersive experience that extends beyond the classroom.

“My research explores issues surrounding gender and sexuality in British Malaya between the late 1920s and 1950s. As my future research requires me to read archival materials in Malay and Indonesian language, the Summer Foreign Language Grant is extremely helpful,” said Lijun Zhang, a doctoral student in history who will be studying at Wisma Bahasa in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. “The grant gives me the opportunity to learn Indonesian in an immersive setting, which will facilitate my fluency not just in the language, but in my understanding of the culture.”

Alena Zhang, a doctoral student in science and technology studies, is looking forward to a similar experience during her time studying Tagalog at the University of Philippines Diliman.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to immerse myself in Filipino language and culture in metro Manila,” she said. “I’m very grateful to have received the Summer Foreign Language Grant.”

Research degree students are eligible for grants of up to $1,000 to support summer travel to foreign countries for intensive non-English language instruction. Priority is given to students who must obtain language proficiency before the fall semester to initiate or complete dissertation or thesis research.

“Languages play a vital role in graduate education across the humanities,” said Holly Boulia, director of fellowships. “Many students need to study texts in their original, unaltered form. The Summer Foreign Language Grants are one way the Graduate School aims to support our humanities students.”

Learn more about Summer Foreign Language Grants. A call for applications will go out a month prior to the April 15 deadline.

Read the story on the Cornell University Graduate School website.

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