Russian Language Journal


Jason Merrill


language, foreign, classroom, students


Language instructors are well aware of the many challenges facing our profession. Financial pressures and fluctuating enrollments have caused many institutions to look critically at their language programs and curricula. Adding to these concerns is the lingering sentiment in some areas that foreign languages are not something that “you (really) need to know,” as Lawrence Summers stated in 2012 (Summers). Colleagues have produced impassioned defenses of the many benefits of language study (e.g. Geisler 2012), but ultimately we, as a profession, need to combine such efforts with the most effective and relevant language instruction we can provide. Geisler is not alone in pointing out that language study is all the more crucial in our world of shifting geopolitical power structures where technology and a global economy increasingly bring various cultures into contact with each other. One way we can demonstrate relevance and effectiveness is by providing instruction that emphasizes the connections between the target language and the culture(s) in which it is spoken.