UC Berkeley News


Letter to the editor

04 March 2004

Dear Editor,

In the Feb. 5 Berkeleyan, UC Berkeley Extension Dean James Sherwood explained his reasons for closing the English Language Program (ELP). [See /www.berkeley.edu/news/berkeleyan/2004/02/04_ext.shtml.] He made several misleading points that, as a teacher in that program since 1974, I would like to clarify.

Dean Sherwood said that English-language training programs are “ubiquitous.” Yet there are fewer language schools today than there were 15 years ago — and the ELP is the biggest program of its kind in the East Bay.

Sherwood said that today, “more and more students [are] choosing other nations, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.” Students tend to go to countries with favorable currency rates. This year, with the decline of the dollar against other currencies, students are choosing the U.S. over other English-speaking countries. Prior to the announcement of ELP’s elimination, the number of applications to the program was rising rapidly.

When asked which strategic criteria the English Language Program no longer met, Sherwood said that the ELP curriculum did not include a “focus on upper-division or post-baccalaureate levels of instruction.” In fact, we offer university-level courses in literary criticism, writing, art history, and women’s issues.

The English Language Program is a renowned institution with a well-respected, dedicated faculty. Among the teachers are authors of successful textbooks and presenters at national conferences. It is difficult to believe the reasons for its elimination provided by Dean Sherwood in his interview. So the question remains that posed by its headline: “Why will Extension end the English Language Program?”

— Ellen Rosenfield

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