A reshaped language-study program offers scholarships for a summer abroad

Undergraduate women first came to Princeton in 1963 to study six “critical languages” — Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Persian, Russian, and Turkish — for one to two years. A critical-language program exists today as well, though the structure of the program has changed.

Since 2006, the U.S. State Department has offered scholarships for summer study abroad by undergraduate and graduate students who plan to use certain languages in their careers. Each year, about 600 students are selected to spend seven to 10 weeks in a program of intensive language study and cultural immersion. Today, 14 languages are deemed critical: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu.

In the past decade, 51 Princeton students have taken part in the Critical Language Scholarship Program. Last year three students — Saurabh Pant GS, Jennifer Silver ’18, and Coy Ozias ’18 — were chosen to participate.

Pant, a Ph.D. student studying politics and government, studied Urdu — spoken in Pakistan and northern India — in Lucknow, India. Silver, a religion concentrator, traveled to Malang, Indonesia, to study Indonesian. Near Eastern studies major Ozias studied Arabic in Meknes, Morocco. Other recent Princeton participants have studied Persian in Tajikistan, Turkish in Turkey, and Korean in South Korea.

Princeton offers instruction in 10 of the 14 languages listed as critical today. Spanish is the most-enrolled foreign language at the University by far (particularly for beginning speakers); the least-enrolled language is Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, with two students.

Princeton offers instruction in 10 of the 14 languages supported by the Critical Language Scholarship Program. Here are the enrollment numbers for the fall semester:

Chinese: 246
Arabic: 91

Japanese: 85
Korean: 74
Russian: 55
Persian: 28
Hindi: 21
Urdu: 16
Swahili: 12
Turkish: 10

The three languages with the most enrolled students in the fall semester were:

Spanish: 675
French: 361

Chinese: 246