UNA professor speaks students' language, among numerous others
By: Jason Lankford
Dr. Craig Christy has a fascination with the phenomenon of human
language and how we communicate. He hopes that his students will share
this enthusiasm for the subject. He feels that it is indispensable for
students to learn a foreign language.
"It is important to expand your horizons, your intelligence and
challenge your beliefs about the way the world works," Christy said.
"Nothing gets you to that point faster than the study of a foreign
Christy believes that each language has a different take on reality.
Language guides the way that we think about the world and it is
important to avoid chaining ourselves to one specific way of thinking.
"As long as you're a goldfish swimming in a bowl, you'll never know
what's outside the bowl," Christy said. "You won't know how language is
directing or limiting your thought. Why would you want to settle for
one way of looking at the world?"
Christy has taught at UNA since 1988. He is a professor of German,
Linguistics and International Studies. He holds a Ph.D. in German
Language and Literature from Princeton University.
The origins of Christy's fascination with foreign languages date back to
his childhood. His mother was originally from France and grew up near
the Franco-German border. He learned French and German from her. He is
fluent in both of these languages and dabbles in Chinese, as well as
various Scandinavian languages.
Christy is eager to encourage students to take advantage of
opportunities to study abroad. He believes that where you study is
almost as important as what you study.
"We see your study of a language as a beginning," Christy said. "What we
want you to do is go abroad. Then it really means something to you.
When you go abroad, you live it, breathe it and learn one-hundred times
faster than you do with a book. You not only gain knowledge, but
experience another way of life."
Christy says that his extensive travels in various countries have
provided him with a wealth of insights into different cultures and
real-life examples that he has been able to use in teaching his classes
as a supplement to the text.
"We all enrich our lives when we experience the lives of others,"
In the 20th century, an academic trend was introduced that eliminated
foreign language as a requirement of the curriculum at many
universities. Christy is pleased that colleges around the country are
reversing this trend now and making foreign language part of the core
curriculum once again. Christy hopes that UNA will eventually follow
One thing that makes UNA unique compared to many other institutions of
similar size is the diverse amount of critical language courses taught
here. Critical language classes include Arabic, Chinese, Japanese,
Russian, Swahili and Turkish.
These classes are actually taught by UNA students who are native
speakers of the language. Instruction in the classroom focuses primarily
on the development of oral communication skills through conversation
with the instructor. Mastery of the grammar must be accomplished through
self-motivated study outside of class.
The ability to speak in these languages has the potential to open up
many job opportunities. According to Christy, the government is
desperate for people who speak them. Many positions are available in the
corporate world as well, as many companies are seeking to expand their
operations to other countries.
If you are interested in obtaining more information about offerings in
the foreign language department or wish to learn more about
opportunities to study abroad, you can stop by Dr. Christy's office in
Room 204 of Weslyan Hall.
© Copyright 2010 Florala