CWU News

Central Washington Prep Students to Learn About World Language and Culture at CWU

In an increasingly global village, it’s vitally important for Washington high school students to get exposed to other languages and become familiar with different cultures.

“For the sake of international trade alone—we know that,” said Joshua Nelson, a faculty member in Central Washington University department of World Languages. “But learning another language is like other formative disciplines—singing or playing an instrument. It encourages basic intellectual [and psychological] development.”

A record number of more than 300 high school students, from eight central Washington school districts, will learn about other languages and cultures during CWU’s 13th annual World Languages Day (WLD) on Friday, May 15, from 9 a.m. 2 p.m., on the Ellensburg campus. The student total is more than double that of last year.

“The number of students coming may indicate a growing interest [in language and culture],” said Laila Abdalla, CWU World Languages chair. “It does indicate that their teachers are aware of why language learning is essential.” 

During the day, the students, their teachers and school staff members, will participate in workshops led by CWU faculty and staff, students, and Ellensburg community members pertaining to different languages and varied cultures. The overall goal is to encourage the prep students to develop an interest in, and sensitivity to, different societies from around the globe.

“We want to help the students broaden their horizons,” said Nelson, who has been involved with WLD since its inception. “We also want them to see that it [study of language and culture] can help them get good, fulfilling jobs—and that it’s fun.”

Participants will also interact with CWU international students, including from the Pacific Rim, Latin America, and the Middle East, to experience their music, dancing, and cuisine, such as sushi, from Japan; kimchee, from Korea; and dates, from Saudi Arabia.

“World Languages Day also gives our international students a showplace for their cultures,” Nelson pointed out.

Other CWU students, enrolled in University English as a Second Language and the Asia University America Program, will produce additional WLD materials that are part of their graded coursework.

“It [World Languages Day] also provides an opportunity for our department to build camaraderie and for our students to connect with each other,” Abdalla said. “They work hand-in-glove with the professors and become teachers themselves in demonstrating what they’ve learned to the incoming high school students. It’s beneficial to all.”   

CWU is helping fund the transportation and registration costs of students from the Brewster, Oroville, Quincy, and Tonasket school districts, which are associated with the university’s federal GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) program.

The 11.7 million dollar grant also provides services to students in the Chelan, Highland, Manson, Omak, and Wenatchee School districts.

May 11, 2015

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Content Development, 509-963-1487,