New Foreign Language Resource Center to be Completed

Posted by Taylor Ray

A new and improved Foreign Language Resource Center is in the works, according to Skidmore's Department of Foreign Language and Literature.?

The new center will belong to the department, but will be open to anyone who wants to use the space. The new space will have many qualities that the old center lacked to some degree, including functionality and flexibility according to Cindy Evans, Director of the Foreign Language Resource Center.?

One of the biggest differences between the current and new centers stemmed from the planning initial drafting process. The current center, which was redone in 1997, is more practical than functional. This time around, the Foreign Language and Literature Department worked closely with architect John Muse, who has done other projects for the college. "His process was to first listen to us at length about how we teach in the space, and the functionalities we would like to have," said Evans. Muse ultimately produced what Evans calls "an innovative design based on the learning experiences that we hope to support and promote."

The Foreign Language and Literature Department also brought in a consultant on language center design and held a departmental workshop in order to determine the needs, desires and priorities for the new center.

One of the primary goals of the new center will be achieved in the layout, in which Evans and five other faculty members representing the six languages taught at Skidmore will have offices. "We want to promote more informal interaction between students and faculty," said Evans.?

As for new features, the new center is getting an upgrade in appearance and functionality. There will be a multimedia classroom, a small seminar space that doubles as a group viewing lounge and a workstation for Language Assistants. "My mantra about this new space is that it needs to be flexible," said Evans. This flexibility will be reflected in the entire space, but especially in the open lobby, which will serve as a study area, viewing lounge and much more. Tables in the classroom and seminar space will be mobile, and designs for the center have minimized walls so that the space is highly adaptable.

The area will lend itself to tutoring offered by the center, video and foreign TV viewing and studying, relaxing and socializing in comfortable and colorful lounge furniture. The design and the physical elements of the center are meant to create an inviting atmosphere, also fostered by a flat screen TV, six computer stations and a kitchenette-all for use by anyone.

As in the current center, students will continue to have access to tutoring in any of the six languages taught at Skidmore. Tutoring is available at a drop-in basis, and available hours can be found on the center's website. The Foreign Language Assistants who hold tutoring sessions have all been recommended by a faculty member for the position-or have shown extensive and outstanding grasp of a foreign language-and the department hopes that the new center will encourage more students to take advantage of the tutors. Nonetheless, Evans reiterates that the space can be what students make of it. "We would like to get the word out there that students are welcome for tutoring, or just to use the facilities."

The new center will be located on the fourth floor of Palamountain Hall. Its anticipated date of completion is the fall of 2014.
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