75 Students begin lessons in Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Korean or Swahili

Washington, D.C., June 19, 2006 -- Howard University’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures today began their six-week Summer Institute, a foreign language program open to high school juniors and seniors as well as college students on the University’s main campus. The program is funded by a nearly one million dollar Department of Defense contract as a part of a broad effort to encourage higher proficiency levels in foreign languages among U.S. students, particularly minorities.

The Summer Institute will offer instruction for up to 75 students in five less commonly taught, but increasingly relevant foreign languages. They are categorized at Howard University as JACKS -- Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Swahili. Instruction will be provided free of charge and upon successful completion, students will receive a stipend of $1,000 and up to one full year of foreign language credit. 

“We received an overwhelming response from students. We reviewed 1,000 applications for 75 places,” said James Davis, Ph.D., chairman, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.  “The program is designed to have students gain functional proficiency in their respective languages as well as incorporate lessons in culture and arts and crafts.”

The pilot program will run from June 19 through July 31, 2006 and will include five hours of daily instruction from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Student participants must have no prior language training in the language of their choice.

 “High school students typically learn French, Spanish or German,” said Davis. “However, the world is rapidly changing and the Middle East, Africa and Asia are rapidly become more prominent in our global economy.  Learning one of the JACKS languages will expose these students to languages not readily available to them in their current educational experience.”

Howard University, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures was awarded $992,004 from the United States Department of Defense to establish a Center for Foreign Language Study. 

Howard University is one of 48 U.S. private, Doctoral/Research-Extensive universities and comprises 12 schools and colleges. Founded in 1867, students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, a Truman Scholar, seven Fulbright Scholars and nine Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D.s than any other university in the world. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University’s Web site at

Note to Media

Coordinated site visits for interviews with participants and organizers are open to the media. Please contact Kerry-Ann Hamilton at 202.238.2631 or via email at to schedule times.