World Languages Institute at Bellevue College Continuing Education Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Share Article

The World Languages Institute at Bellevue College Continuing Education celebrates its 25th anniversary. Trade ties with Asia and the rise in global economy have grown the World Languages Institute into the largest language program of its kind in the Northwest.

Rene Siegenthaler, Director of the World Languages Institute

"We have some students who are reconnecting with their roots. Others just love Italian food and wine and want to be able to order correctly in a restaurant," said René Siegenthaler, director of the World Languages Institute.

September marks the 25th Anniversary of the World Languages Institute at Bellevue College Continuing Education. Since it began in 1985, the Institute has grown to be the largest non-credit language program of its kind in the Northwest.

Languages classes are offered in 17 foreign languages, including American Sign Language , Dutch, Farsi, Scottish Gaelic and Thai. The institute is known for the depth of its language classes. It offers 29 different Spanish classes and Chinese to Level 16.

While the majority of World Languages Institute students take language classes for personal enrichment, 25 percent of the institute's students are professionals who are learning languages to stay relevant and marketable in today's global economy.

Washington State's strong economic connection with Asia has fueled expansion of the Asian language programs at the institute . As the region's trade with China has increased over the last decade, so has interest in Chinese language. Ten years ago, the college offered three levels of Chinese language classes. This fall quarter the college is offering Chinese 16. Japanese classes are offered to level 8. Nihongo, a unique program for teenage Japanese heritage speakers, targets the children of Japanese professionals who are currently working in the area and want their children to keep up their native language.

The growing cultural diversity of the Puget Sound region has also helped boost interest in World Languages Institute classes. King County is now second only to LA county for the greatest number of languages spoken in one area in the country.

Students take language classes for many reasons, according to René Siegenthaler, director of the World Languages Institute.    

"We have students who want to have conversations with their in-laws. Others are trying to reconnect with their roots. Some just love Italian food and wine and want to be able to order correctly in a restaurant, " said Siegenthaler.

In addition to the more traditional languages classes, the institute also offers higher-level courses that incorporate a strong emphasis on culture, including French through Current Events and Conversiamo, where students read and discuss current events using foreign-language publications. New this fall quarter is Italian through Cinema, taught by Nicoletta Machiavelli, a former Italian cinema actress who was known for her roles in Dino de Laurentiis' spaghetti westerns in the sixties and seventies.

While most of its classes are non-credit, the World Languages Institute also offers one of the few translation and interpretation credit programs in the country. The highly respected program has been training translators and interpreters since 1996, and the program has been contracted by the Washington Courts to administer the state’s training and testing for court interpreter certification.

About the World Languages Institute at Bellevue College Continuing Education

Founded in 1985, the World Languages Institute at Bellevue College has grown to be the largest non-credit language program of its kind in Washington State. Seventy-five faculty members teach approximately 450 classes annually, serving an average of 5,000 enrollments. Courses are offered in 17 different languages. The institute also offers one of the few translation and interpretation credit programs in the country. For more information, visit http://continuingeducation.bellevuecollege.edu/world-languages-institute.

About Bellevue College Continuing Education

Bellevue College is the most comprehensive provider of continuing education courses in Washington State. The continuing education division offers classes in over 500 subject areas from personal enrichment courses to professional development and career enhancement, including over a dozen certificate programs. For more information, visit http://continuingeducation.bellevuecollege.edu

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Sonja Riveland

206-784-1718
Email >
Visit website