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Second Language Proficiency Part of RIC's New General Education Curriculum 

RIC students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a second language before graduation.

RIC students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a second language before graduation.

It’s a global world, and Rhode Island College wants its graduates prepared not only to embrace that in their professional lives, but also to become engaged global citizens.

That was the idea behind instituting a second-language requirement as part of RIC’s redesigned general education curriculum. One year after beginning students in the new program, Ronald Pitt, vice president for academic affairs, said he is extremely pleased with the decision.

“The idea is for students to have a much better sense of the world outside the United States and the way the outside world affects us on a daily basis and the decisions we make,” Pitt said, referring to the overall new inclusion of global-based education in the general education requirements.

Rhode Island College is the only public higher education institution in the state to require proven proficiency in a second language for graduation. Students can fulfill the requirement in a variety of ways, including taking language courses and demonstrating an existing proficiency by passing accepted standardized tests or with study abroad.

The goal is for students to attain mid-novice-level proficiency in a language as a foundation and encouragement for further study.

Students also are introduced to the fact that today’s world is globally connected and that students need to be aware of how the world works outside the United States. “Students are taught language and culture. As a citizen and employee, they will be able to learn much more when they have that foundation,” Pitt said.

There are also other courses within the general education curriculum that emphasize global understanding. In redesigning the curriculum, the college placed a higher emphasis on written and oral communications. Students now encounter writing embedded throughout general education courses. All RIC majors have writing requirements as well, so students now develop superior writing skills throughout their college career. In addition, RIC has increased its science and math based learning.

These changes, Pitt said, were made to better prepare students to be the employees and leaders that society wants and needs. “The economy is so much different for young people than it used to be,” Pitt said. “Colleges need to step up and give students the skills not only to get their first job but to stay employed. We started with looking at what students need to learn to be knowledgeable citizens and successful in life and built the program to try to accommodate that.”