Linguists to gather on campus for an international conference

Students at Foreign Language and International Studies Day at the UO

Founded almost 30 years ago, the Yamada Language Center at the University of Oregon has sought to make the language learning experience on campus more enjoyable, comprehensible and more engaging for both students and community members.

As a result, the UO has served as a hub for language resources and become home to one of 16 National Foreign Language Research Centers in the country, the Center for Applied Second Language Study.

However, next week the UO will be home to more than just a nationally renowned language resource center. Yamada and the second language program also will be hosting the biannual International Association for Language Learning Technology conference for the first time in UO history.

The conference is returning to the Pacific Northwest for the first time since 1997, according to Jeff Magoto, director of the Yamada Language Center.

Almost 220 linguists from around the world will gather in the Erb Memorial Union during the four-day conference to listen to keynote speakers, participate in language workshops and discuss language technology, Magoto said.

Walk-in registration is permitted for the entire conference or just a single day. The walk-in, single-day price is $125 Wednesday to Friday and $100 for the half day on Saturday. To learn more about the conference visit the Yamada website.

The Yamada center was created in 1991 and grew from the basement of Friendly Hall into the campus resource that it is today after a generous donation from businessman Osamitsu Yamada. Yamada keeps in contact with the center and continues to offer scholarship programs for Ducks to study in Tokyo, Magoto said.

In addition to conferences and events, the center offers UO students and community members a range of language learning opportunities and resources including online labs, state-of-the-art classrooms and a language exchange program that connects students to help one another.

“Language instruction itself is changing; instead of the traditional five days a week, increasingly students now have three days a week or four days a week and technology takes up a significant part of those days they would have otherwise been in class,” Magoto said. “We, the library and the publishers are the three pillars of what happens outside of class.”

The UO teaches 16 languages through various departments on campus, and for students enrolled in one of those 16 languages the center serves as a library and resource center, according to Magoto. However, for Ducks interested in less common languages such as Turkish, Thai, Persian and Hindi, the center offers seven other language courses not provided by the UO.

The self-study programs at Yamada often are small, with fewer than five people and a focus on providing a breadth of materials to fit all language needs. Students can get one to two credits for the self-study program, and courses also can be taken by community members for $150.

“Language is one of the best things that can come out of an undergraduate education, and if you’re in a field like journalism or political science or anthropology or business, what better tool can you have if you hope to be part of the modern world?” Magoto said. “We consider ourselves a global university and the globe does not speak only English.”

To learn more about the Yamada Language Center, connect with other language students or enroll in classes, visit the website.

By Brian Dorn, University Communications