Honors students interested in learning a foreign language should definitely consider The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program. It is a fully funded summer international language and cultural immersion program for U.S. college students. The goal of the program is to broaden the base of Americans studying critical languages ( there are 14 language programs currently available) and building relationships between the United States and other countries. Formal classroom language instruction is provided for 20 hours per week, and there are extracurricular and cultural activities to supplement the formal curriculum to help students learn more about the history, politics, culture and daily life of the host country.
I decided to apply for the Korean program on the intermediate level. The most difficult part of the application was the essays because of the small word count limits. Through these essays, the applicants should convey their dedication to learning the target language and how they plan to use the language in their future career. It was hard expressing everything I wanted to say in the limited amount of space.
My advice for future applicants would be to start the application as soon as possible and to submit the application a few days before the deadline. The application site is known to crash multiple times on the due date due to a high volume of traffic on the site. Additionally, the essays take some time to write, and you should have multiple people read over them to make sure there are no errors!
In the future, I hope to work in South Korea, which is why I have been pursuing learning the Korean language. I began taking Korean lessons at the University of Pittsburgh because my dad is originally from South Korea and I like Korean music and dramas. Having knowledge of a second language is also very valuable in the business environment. As I learned more of the language, I learned more about the culture and my interest in South Korea grew. I started to look for opportunities to travel to the country. While I was researching scholarships and study abroad trips to Korea, I found the Critical Language Scholarship Program and read about other students that have received the scholarship in the past.
If I were to receive a CLS, I would be able to improve my fluency of Korean. I would also be able to travel to South Korea for the first time and learn more about the culture. For my Honors Thesis I am studying Korean pop culture, so I would be able to see some of this first hand and I would also learn about different aspects of the culture that I have not previously researched.
Written by: Jessica Chin