CAL Urges WVU to Preserve World Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics

Washington, DC — The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) calls on West Virginia University (WVU) to reconsider its proposal to eliminate its Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics. As a research university, WVU has a responsibility to provide students with a high-quality education that equips them with the tools they need to succeed. Language education is integral to this preparation, as it offers cognitive benefits and enhances job market competitiveness. By removing world language programs, WVU will limit students’ potential and restrict their access to opportunities. In addition, this decision cuts off training for future educators prepared to teach world languages and support multilingual learners, exacerbating a K-12 teacher shortage experienced nationwide and particularly in West Virginia.

Cultural understanding and inclusivity are paramount in today’s increasingly interconnected global society, making equal access to education that bridges diverse backgrounds, histories, and languages more important than ever. [1][2][3] Unfortunately, WVU’s decision to curtail language programs threatens to undermine such access, compounding existing concerns like the scarcity of multilingual professionals despite the high demand for their specialized skills.

Moving forward with the elimination of this department will have a detrimental impact on students, faculty, society at large, and WVU’s own reputation. CAL urges WVU to reconsider its proposal, recognize the invaluable benefits that world language programs contribute to a well-rounded education, and prioritize the preservation of these programs for a brighter, more inclusive future.

Please support the petition. West Virginians, visit JNCL-NCLIS’ Voter Voice page to contact your representative.

About CAL

The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) provides research, resources, and analysis related to language learning and cultural understanding. CAL promotes solutions to language and culture issues in education and society, focusing on access, equity, and understanding for diverse individuals. CAL values multilingualism, effective language education, accurate information as the foundation for policies and practices involving language and culture, and the benefits of language skills and cultural knowledge in the workplace. Read more about CAL’s mission here.

Center for Applied Linguistics

4646 40th Street, NW Washington, DC 20016-1859


[1] U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.-a, sec. Summary). Joint Statement of Principles in Support of International Education Reengaging the World to Make the United States Stronger at Home A Renewed U.S. Commitment to International Education. Retrieved August 29, 2023, from According to the U.S. Department of Education, international education promotes communication and language skills, along with an increased appreciation for diverse viewpoints—all of which are crucial for success in “education, international business, scientific discovery and innovation, and the global economy.”

[2] U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.-b, sec. Key Focus Areas). Raise the bar: Lead the World. Retrieved August 29, 2023, from The publication suggests improving global competitiveness and student engagement by reimagining college and career pathways and promoting multilingualism. It emphasizes the need for “efforts to establish and scale career and college pathways that lead to students earning industry-recognized credentials and securing in-demand jobs; and providing more and better opportunities for our students to become multilingual.”

[3] U.S. Department of Education. (2022, March). U.S. Department of Education International Strategy: Succeeding Globally Through International Education and Engagement. Retrieved August 29, 2023, from The U.S. Department of Education emphasizes the importance of global and cultural competencies for students, which include “critical thinking, communication, socioemotional, and language skills” as essential for success.

6 thoughts on “CAL Urges WVU to Preserve World Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics”

  1. We need to be moving forward in our ever increasing global community, not backwards. Do not eliminate this department.

  2. Paradoxically, as we read articles on Artificial Intelligence (AI), we discover that the concept itself is often introduced and/or referred to as a product of ‘large language models.’ In fact, AI seems to have resulted from an awareness of, and expertise in, language and language analysis and structure. A quick search for jobs in large computing-based corporations and AI companies commonly include references to syntax and an ability to speak more than one language as required skills. Even as we face the unfortunate fact that a significant part of the American society today still appears to not appreciate –hopefully only temporarily—inclusivity and culture awareness and competence, the irruption of AI alone should be enough a criterion not to eliminate language and culture programs. On the contrary, these should be promoted even further. It is sad to see that West Virginia now closes its doors to current and promising potential for innovation, and eventually for participating in the highly valuable task of advancing human capabilities: their students, if interested, can learn languages by themselves and online. Sadly enough, West Virginia’s proposal amounts to claiming, for instance, that Departments of Mathematics should be eliminated because we now have calculators. Fine: we will always need expert human beings behind the modern technologies, as amazing as these may turn out to be. West Virginia will be a school of users only. Almost nothing wrong with this, but where will their potentially bright innovators go? What presence or participation will West Virgina have in human innovation and progress?

  3. How short-sighted to eliminate language study! Everywhere else in the world people recognize the importance of functioning in at least 2 languages and realize ALL the benefits that come from being bilingual, trilingual, or more. Communication is the key to everything in life, and language study promotes urgently needed communication across and within cultures.


Leave a Comment

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.