The answer to that question falls into the “Who needs rules?” theme for this year’s blog. Why does Fletcher limit language study for its students? First, I suppose I should spell out the rule. Students in the MALD program can take up to two language classes for credit as part of their degree study. That’s two out of a total of sixteen. And…we don’t even make it easy to take the two classes. Students need to petition for the language credit, and they need to show that the language is a necessary element of their career preparation.
Why would we impose this limit?
Well, Fletcher is not a language school — it’s a graduate professional school of international affairs. Students make real sacrifices, both financial and of time, to come here. It’s the role of the School’s administration to ensure the academic integrity of each student’s program of study. We all love learning languages! But, in general, languages are not the focus of the Fletcher curriculum.
So when would language study be reasonable? Here’s a simple example I like to cite: A student who has worked in the Spanish-speaking countries of South America would like to further extend his work to Brazil. In that case, proficiency in Portuguese is a career skill, and a petition to study would be straightforward.
But language study for it’s own sake isn’t part of the program. Lucky for all of us, between classes offered by universities, adult education centers, or on-line, not to mention tutors or CD-based instruction, there are plenty of opportunities to build language skills before starting Fletcher study. And, equally, to continue to learn during the course of a post-Fletcher career.
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