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Contact: Karen Barbier, Assistant Director of Media Relations, Office of Communications 


Learning a new language may be easier than you think

HOUSTON,  — Planetary Science Institute research scientist Paul Abell often finds himself working with international colleagues because of his work with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Institute at NASA Johnson Space Center. So Abell thought he would strengthen his communication skills with his business partners by taking classes through University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Foreign Languages Program.

“Taking Japanese classes through the UH-Clear Lake Foreign Language Program has helped me tremendously as it has opened new ways for me to communicate with my Japanese colleagues,” explained Abell. “I also have a better understanding of the Japanese culture which has been very useful on this project.” 

Like many residents of the Bay Area, Abell has taken advantage of the Foreign Language Program as a way to further his professional development. Founded in 1985 by offering three French classes, the UHCL Foreign Language Program offers all area residents a chance to learn a new language in a small, comfortable, fun environment that encourages foreign language skill development.

“We’ve had people take our classes for many reasons including work or personal gratification,” said Foreign Languages Program Director Christine Paul. “Still others take the classes because of one specific event; for instance, we’ve had families take our Russian classes because they were adopting a child from Russia and wanted to be able to communicate with her.

“It’s always interesting to hear about why people want to learn a foreign language.”

Currently, classes in Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish are offered on a regular basis. Courses in Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Vietnamese will be held upon student request. All courses emphasize conversational skills development and the teaching method is oral. Students begin speaking the language they have selected during the first class meeting. All teachers within this program possess native fluency and are experienced in teaching the oral language method.

O’Riley McSpadden wanted to reach a personal goal of learning to speak French.

“I never had any formal instruction in French and had been studying French on my own for a year or two and didn’t feel that I was making any real progress,” said McSpadden. “I began looking for a non-credit type setting to get help in learning French and found the Foreign Language Program.

“This program has been very helpful and I’ve made more progress in reading and speaking French than if I had pressed on without it. The instructors are excellent, and really care about their students and their progress.”

The Foreign Language Program offers several sessions throughout the calendar year. Though the classes are offered on a non-credit basis, participants may receive Continuing Education Units upon satisfactory completion of their courses. To learn more, call 281-283-3033, e-mail or visit

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University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 30 undergraduate and over 40 graduate degree programs, as well as a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering. For more information about the university, visit

Last updated: 06/29/2016 UTC
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