Monday, October 19, 2009

Language Classes See Record Enrollment

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager, 480.517.8472

Rio Salado College’s foreign language program is booming. The Tempe-based college is seeing a record number of students signing up for its online classes.

“We have more students registered for classes at this point in the semester than we did all of last fall,” said Angela Felix, faculty chair of languages at Rio Salado College. “And last fall we saw our largest enrollment.”

Due to the convenience of online learning and community college affordability, many students from surrounding colleges and universities have opted to take their required language class at Rio Salado.

“Our classes start every Monday and never close or cancel due to low enrollment like other colleges,” said Felix. “Also, the flexibility of online classes allows students to complete the course at their own pace, and provides the option to take classes at the traditional 14 weeks or at an accelerated pace. They don’t have to drive to a campus and they can take the class at their convenience.”

According to Felix, the program’s popularity goes beyond affordability and convenience. Rio Salado’s foreign language classes use a state-of-the art voice recognition technology called Auralog, which allows students to perfect pronunciation, build their vocabulary, and improve sentence structure. Auralog tracks the student’s voice, graphing correct sounds and those that are incorrect. The diagrams help the students position their mouth for perfect speech.
“The voice recognition software really makes a difference in learning a language online,” said Felix. “Our online students do just as well as students in a classroom. Students who are hesitant or shy about saying difficult new words in front of a class enjoy the ability to perfect their pronunciation in a familiar environment where they feel most comfortable.”

For questions that cannot be answered with the program, the students benefit from Rio Salado’s 24/7 helpdesk support from expert instructors. The entire program is like having a private tutor assisting you along the way, said Felix.

While the cost of hiring a private language tutor is expensive, the cost of the program is relatively affordable, which is another contributing factor to the enrollment increase. With the interactive voice recognition software students aren’t required to purchase textbooks. Auralog provides all the materials students need to become proficient in speaking another language, said Felix. Auralog cost just $70 compared to textbooks that run at double Auralog’s price or more. The state-of-the-art software is the same that can be purchased for approximately $450 by the general public.

“Our students are really excited about this,” said Felix. “They love the cutting-edge technology over having to buy expensive textbooks, but really appreciate having a knowledgeable faculty member available for guidance and help.”

Rio Salado College’s seven language classes include: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish. The college also offers sign language classes, which allow students to use the social networking site YouTube to submit assignments. For more information about the language programs offered by Rio Salado College, please visit http://www.riosalado.edu/programs/general_education/Pages/languages.aspx.
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