The Modern Language Association's Executive Council has issued a statement calling on doctoral programs in English to required "advanced competence" in at least one language beyond English, and to provide support for graduate students who want to study languages beyond any requirements. Most doctoral programs in English require reading proficiency in one non-English language, but the new statement suggests a higher bar may be in order.
"Those who pursue a Ph.D. in English are engaged in deep study of a language and its literary and cultural expressions," the statement says. "Most likely they will teach works in translation during their career. Knowledge of several languages and the process of language learning offer more than research tools enabling students to read primary and secondary materials in their original form. They promote consciousness of and sensitivity to both the multilingual contexts in which anglophone literatures are written and the work of translation in which contemporary writers and readers engage on a daily basis. Proficiency in more than one language promotes the cultural literacy essential to teaching in the global university of the future."
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