Aku Opata is registered to take a course in Swahili this fall as a student at UNC Pembroke. She will do it via UNC Online’s Foreign Language Exchange, which is putting the world at North Carolina’s doorstep.
Opata is taking advantage of the flexibility of online study and the wide variety of offerings at UNC Online. UNC Online is a marketplace of courses and complete degrees in many subject areas that originate from any one 16 UNC schools.
“I am taking this course from Winston Salem State, which is my alma mater,” said Opata, who is director of licensure for UNC Pembroke’s School of Education. “I knew about this course, but I didn’t know it was available to me. I wanted to try something different, and I wanted to learn more about African language and culture. I’m very excited.”
Swahili and Cherokee languages are two of the more exotic offerings at UNC Online. Several European languages are offered along with Hindi/Urdu, Russian, Persian and Arabic as well as some literature, cultural and other related courses.
A Laurinburg native, Opata’s father lives in Ghana and is a high-ranking member of the Shai Tribe. In 2014, she traveled to Ghana to be installed as Queen Mother of the tribe. Although English is Ghana’s official language, Opata’s interest in Africa has grown to the entire continent.
Opata heard about the Language Exchange from Beth Froeba, who, as director of UNCP’s Advising Center, promotes UNC’s Foreign Language Exchange to her students.
“I often have advisees request a foreign language that we are not offering that semester,” Froeba said. “I have found the Language Exchange to be very helpful in that situation.”
Dr. Cecilia Lara is the director of UNCP’s Foreign Languages Program, which offers classes in Spanish, French, Latin and Chinese and majors in Spanish and Spanish with Teacher Licensure. The program also offers minors in Spanish, French and Hispanic Studies.
Dr. Lara is also the Campus Language Exchange manager, she sees the value of UNC Online and UNCP’s Foreign Languages faculty will contribute several courses to the exchange this fall.
“UNC Online is excellent for our students,” Dr. Lara said. “Last semester, we had a student who wanted to take German, but we did not have an instructor, through the exchange he was able to register for the course he wanted. With this Language Exchange, we are trying to serve the needs of our students.”
It’s a win-win situation for students, who can complete their degrees much faster, and UNC schools, which can offer more opportunities to students and the community.
“UNC Online is a collaboration, and we are full partners,” Dr. Lara said. “It allows us to develop stronger language programs for majors and non-majors.”
Opata is a case in point how UNC Online serves the public as well as students. Because she is not enrolled as a student, Opata paid small fee to register as a visiting student.
Globalism is on the rise in the 21st century, but foreign languages programs in higher education have declined, and language requirements have been eliminated. UNC Online is an economical option that capitalizes on the collective strength of 16 universities.
UNC Online, which offers courses and entire degrees, is online at https://online.northcarolina.edu/. Before registering, interested students are advised to contact Dr. Lara, director of Foreign Languages at UNCP.
The tuition of UNC Online courses is the same as students pay at their home school. In UNCP’s case it is $119.36 per credit hour for undergraduates and $178.05 per credit hour for graduate students. (There is a flat fee of $25 for distance education instructional support.)