Frequently Asked Questions

lac logo1. What is Languages Across the Curriculum or LAC?
LAC is the name given to a series of curricular models through which students can put into practice their language abilities while studying subjects outside of language departments. It is a multidisciplinary program which counts not only on the flexibility of the students’ abilities and interests but also on the collaboration of language faculty with colleagues of other disciplines, and on their commitment to an education suitable to a multicultural and global society.

2. How does LAC work?
In order to implement LAC, faculty will have to create courses which combine languages with different disciplines; the language component constitutes the one-credit enhancement section, with readings and in-class discussions that are complementary to the lecture course in English. While the humanities and social sciences seem to be at first glance the most obvious candidates for such pairing, the sciences, the business and education courses are just as important to the program’s success.

There are indeed diverse models one faculty/campus could follow: the adjunct model – a main non-language course with one-hour “adjunct” or “trailer” language section; the parallel model - two independent courses in which students enroll simultaneously and for which faculty collaborate to ensure some overlap in texts and subjects, though, obviously, in different languages; the fusion model - in which the language section is internal to the main course, with only one instructor and with a minimal of language knowledge; and the combined model – in which the instructor teaches in the foreign language while the students write and read in English.

3. What languages does LAC support? Can more than one language be used for a course?
This depends on the availability of the language specialists on a specific campus. In general LAC courses are offered in the languages taught within the language department of a said academic institution, and languages of greater demand (in general a course has to have 7 students in order to run). In the case of Auburn University, the languages currently supported are Spanish, Italian, French, and German. Yes, more than one language can be used for a LAC component, especially for introductory courses or required undergraduate courses in a major discipline which usually have very high enrollments.

4. How is the LAC participation recognized?
In the case of Auburn University, student participation is recognized by awarding credits in the language chosen for the component. The notation will indicate the course and the language (FLIT3200, FLFR3200, FLGR3200, FLLN3200, FLSP3200) – 1 credit for each component attended. Check with each individual Advisor (Italian, French, German, Classics, Spanish) to see whether these credits can be applied toward a minor in Italian, French, German, Classics, or Spanish, respectively.

5. Will LAC mean extra work for the students or the faculty?
LAC is not an add-on to the lecture course the student is enrolled in; it provides an extension of that course, a way of better understanding and appreciating what is studied in the parallel section. If the student is not enrolled in two parallel sections (THIS IS POSSIBLE EVEN THOUGH PARALLEL ENROLLMENT IS RECOMMENDED), but just in the LAC (language section), this would be a personal and enjoyable experience where one is not over-burdened by home assignments, grammar drills, tests, exams, et cetera, but where the knowledge and use of another language will broaden access to other cultures, increase confidence in using not only the language but the analytical and critical abilities. Reading texts in a foreign language written by foreign authors will give students access to international perspectives and foster greater cultural awareness and respect for others. It will also help to view foreign languages as practical components of other disciplines, especially of the ones of personal or professional interest, perhaps in preparation for a graduate course of study in which proficiency in another language is mandatory or highly recommended for one’s research abilities.

Unless the fusion or combined model is implemented, the faculty will develop her/his syllabus as she/he usually does. The non-language specialist could attend the LAC section, in order to have an exposure to the language section/readings, but this is not required.

6. Does one have to be proficient in another language?
No, but LAC assignments generally assume intermediate reading proficiency, which most students attain by the end of 3 or 4 years of high-school or 3 or 4 semesters of college-level language instruction. If one is not sure of his/her proficiency, the student should speak to the LAC instructor or to the LAC Director of his/her institution. LAC is not a language instruction program; gains in language proficiency come as strictly incidental benefits. The language specialist will make sure that every student has a grasp of what has been read and discussed; thus a certain language flexibility is required according to the level of the class.
REMEMBER though, that the purpose of LAC assignments is to foster understanding and insight, not translating ability. Translation requires skill, knowledge, and experience beyond even full bilingual proficiency. Do not gauge your success in LAC by your ability to translate but by your ability to explain how a LAC assignment contributes to the content of the course. LAC is not a content-based language-instruction program but rather a language-based content-instruction program.
If you want to practice your writing skills in the target language, in some cases, course instructors allow the students to perform written assignments in the LAC-supported language, but in no case they require this. If you would like to write in the LAC language, speak to the course instructor.

7. How does one know whether a course offer the LAC option?
When it is time to enroll, check whether there are offerings in FLFR3200, FLIT3200, FLGR3200, FLLN3200, FLSP3200. If yes, then try to reach the instructor for that particular section and ask whether this is an independent study course or a LAC section. Check periodically this site, and feel free to contact the Director of the LAC Program, Dr. Giovanna Summerfield at 315A Tichenor Hall, Phone # 844-2890, E-mail: Set an appointment, if you wish, to discuss your needs and your language skills. If you have previously attended a LAC or a regular language course, you will be reached by the Director via e-mail with details on course offerings.

8. So LAC is not tailored only for language students?
No. In fact, it has been proven that students who take little or no language instruction beyond the intermediate level want opportunities to use their existing skills in a wide variety of disciplines. They want to obtain content-specific knowledge that may not be offered in a language class. Of course, language majors also want to obtain such knowledge, but they have constituted only a small minority (10%) of LAC participants. On the other hand, LAC participants have often expressed a heightened interest in taking additional language-instruction classes after their LAC experience.

9. Are there other LAC programs in the United States?
Yes, there are about 16 institutions which offer LAC programs: Agnes Scott College, University of Florida, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Georgetown University, St. Olaf College, SUNY, Trinity College, University of Connecticut, University of Kansas, University of Rhode Island, Brown University, Binghantom University, Wake Forest University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and University of Tennessee (In some academic institutions this type of educational program is known as FLAC or Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum).

10. How have previously LAC participants rated the value of the program?
In 1994 the administration of Binghantom University interviewed all of the students who had chosen to participate in an optional LAC component. "Would you participate in LAC again, or recommend LAC participation to others?" No respondent said "No" or "Probably not". Five percent said "Maybe"; 30 percent said "Yes, probably"; and the remaining 65 percent said "Yes, certainly"!. See for yourself: attend a course or ask friends who have attended LAC courses. You have nothing to lose; on the contrary the gain is all yours!

For more information

Giovanna Summerfield

Giovanna Summerfield
Director, LAC
315A Tichenor Hall
Auburn University, AL 36849
(334) 844-2890

Last Updated: August 06, 2014