College of Liberal Arts

The Chronicle

A Newsletter of Research & Creative Activity, Scholarship, Teaching, & Service  |  Spring 2011

Photo: Christopher Lupke points to Chinese characters on whiteboard
Students take a lesson from Christopher Lupke. / Photo by Gail Siegel.

National Grant to Enhance Chinese and Japanese Language Offerings

By Gail Siegel, College of Liberal Arts

In today's world, where economies are no longer confined by national borders and where markets for goods, services, labor and capital are global, college students who think beyond the U.S. may have an advantage when it comes to landing a good job.

That's why Christopher Lupke, associate professor of Chinese, and W. Puck Brecher, assistant professor of Japanese, will be using a two-year, $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program (UISFLP) to expand offerings in Chinese and Japanese at Washington State University.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the U.S., China and Japan comprise the three largest national economies, and China is also the world's largest single exporter of goods.

"Asia is, and will continue to be, an important market and an important source of professional opportunities," said Brecher. "Our students can take best advantage of those opportunities through training in Asian languages and cultures."

Expanding learning opportunities

The grant will allow WSU's Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures to create Chinese and Japanese language courses for the professions, giving students in business, engineering and other specialized programs the opportunity to develop advanced language skills with an emphasis on the unique terminology of their respective fields.

"Our expectation is that the grants will enable us to double the number of students from the professional colleges, especially business and architecture and engineering, who study Chinese and Japanese," said Lupke.

In addition, the grant will provide scholarships for students to study abroad in China or Japan and travel grants to support faculty scholarship.

The grant will also support major cultural events at WSU that highlight the relevance of Pacific Rim cultures, and it will fund library acquisitions of Chinese and Japanese language materials that will augment its holdings.

Asian language study on the rise

This is the second time Lupke has received a UISFLP grant. The first award of $172,000, in 2007, supported the establishment of a major in Chinese and a minor in Japanese.

According to the Modern Language Association's Language Enrollment Database, and owing in part to the initial UISFLP grant, WSU experienced a 239-percent enrollment increase in Chinese courses and a 15-fold increase in Japanese enrollment between 2002 and 2009, the most recent year of data.

Nationwide, universities saw a 79-percent increase in Chinese language course enrollment and an increase of more than 40 percent for Japanese enrollment during the same period.

About the faculty

Lupke's research interests include modern Chinese literature, film and cultural studies, and Chinese language pedagogy. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University and recently finished a scholarly translation of Peng Ge's novel Setting Moon.

Brecher, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, is currently working on a monograph on early modern Japan. His research interests span the early modern and modern periods and include Japanese thought, aesthetics, literature, urban history, art history, environmental sustainability, and language pedagogy.

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