The Modern Linguist

Faculty Spotlight

Way-lee Yuan, Adjunct Professor of Chinese

Way-lee Yuan你好! (Hello, in Chinese)

Although I am new at Whitworth, the Chinese-language program has existed here for quite a long time. I greatly enjoy teaching and working with the fantastic students here. They are extremely intelligent and highly motivated. A great number of current students and alumni have taken the opportunity to study in Beijing, exploring the real Chinese world beyond textbooks and classrooms; it is fun, exciting and eye opening. Other opportunities to study in China are still under discussion and may be available for my Chinese-language students in the near future. In my classroom, I will provide a head start for my students and have them prepared for their future journey, both in China and in the U.S., where they will exhibit an excellent application of this language in their life and their professional field.

I am a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese, and I am also a certified teacher in Washington state. I feel particularly blessed that I have worked and lived in quite a few states in the U.S., including teaching K-12 in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Later, I headed to the south and earned my degree from Texas A&M University. After that, an opportunity brought my family to Washington, where I started teaching English at Eastern Washington University.

From the East Coast to the West, and from the southern states to the North, I have seen the increasing presence of the Chinese language. It is the gateway into a rich heritage and culture that can bring us very interesting and enjoyable learning experiences, and it's also an important language skill that will very likely give students the competitive edge in the workplace. As a language already used by more than one-billion people in the world, besides in China, Mandarin Chinese is one of the official languages in neighboring countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. Not only will it connect you to the Chinese-speaking communities worldwide, it will also open your eyes to a wide range of literature, poetry and art. It is worth your time and effort to learn the language.

You may ask: Is Chinese extremely difficult? No. It is actually user-friendly, because Chinese grammar is quite straightforward: there are no plurals, no tenses, no conjugation, no sub-verb agreement, and no change of word order in questions. For those of you who are worried about reading and writing Chinese characters, do not fear. While there are a lot more Chinese characters, knowing around 3,500 is considered being literate. Among the 3,500 characters, less than 10 percent are the components that are not only individual characters, but the building blocks of other relatively complicated characters. So far it's not a big number though, and we will still learn them in a fun and easy way.

I wish everybody an enjoyable and fruitful semester. See you around campus!

Eye on Alumni

Jessica Gatimu, 2009, French and Psychology Double Major

Jessica GatimuI have been working at a French immersion daycare/preschool in southwest Portland since April 1, 2016. I have worked with children for most of my life, and I have used my psychology degree from Whitworth and my master's degree in human development and family sciences from Oregon State University a lot in my childcare jobs. When my current job opportunity presented itself, I was excited to be able to use my French degree for the first time since graduating from Whitworth seven years ago. I am the lead teacher in the Penguins, which has kids from 10 months to16 months old. I develop a monthly curriculum to implement with the children based on different themes. It is a 100 percent French-immersion program. We speak French to the other teachers as well as to all of the children. It is really fun to see the children understand what we are saying and start saying words to us in French, especially since 90 percent of the children do not get French at home. I really enjoy the added component of using my French and using that side of my brain while taking care of children, which I also love to do. French may not be as prevalent around Portland, but there are opportunities to use your language in many places.

While at Whitworth, I was able to study abroad for six months in Aix-en-Provence. I highly recommend studying abroad while you can. That is the only reason why I am able to do my current job. I had not spoken French fluently for about nine years, but thanks to being immersed in France during college, I could understand everyone when I started and my verbal skills are coming back.

Jessica GatimuWhat I really loved about Whitworth was the amazing supportive community that I found there. I was encouraged to follow my passions and was given many opportunities to develop my interests. As a result, I have always felt confident enough to follow my interests and passions in my jobs. Many people would say that I am not truly using my master's degree working in a childcare facility, but I am truly happy using my French and components of my master's and psychology degrees. I continue to get support and encouragement from Whitworth professors and fellow alumni, too. The connections I made at Whitworth have enriched my life post-college. I recommend that all students take advantage of the opportunity to live in a wonderful community and focus on relationships while at Whitworth. This is worth just as much or more than your degree.

Since leaving Whitworth, I met my husband at OSU and we were married soon after earning our graduate degrees. We moved to Hillsboro, Ore., where we have found a wonderful church community that we are involved in. We traveled to Kenya a couple of years ago to visit my husband's family and enjoyed a safari. We also try to be active and explore places around us.

Announcements and Upcoming Events

Free Tutoring Offered to All Levels

  • German: Wednesdays, 3-4 p.m., library, room 208
  • French: Thursdays and Sundays, 8-9 p.m., Westminster Hall, room 141
  • Spanish: Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, 7-9 p.m./Mondays and Wednesdays, 8-9 p.m., library, room 208

Language Proficiency Exams

Language proficiency refers to one's ability to use language for real-world purposes to accomplish real-world linguistic tasks, across a wide range of topics and settings. ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Proficiency Tests reflect and measure these real-world tasks. Differing from an achievement test that measures knowledge of specific information (what a person knows), a proficiency test targets what an individual can do with what one knows. As in a driver's test, an achievement test would represent the paper-and-pencil questions that one answers, while a proficiency test determines how well the person can drive the car. The language proficiency test is an evaluation of how well a person can use language to communicate in real life.

Do you need to complete the program requirement of language proficiency for your major? You can schedule an oral proficiency interview (OPI) convenient to your schedule. For more information, check out the Language Testing International website at, or contact Rachelle Hartvigsen at or 509.777.4765.

Whitworth University Students Selected as Fulbright Finalists

FulbrightTwo Whitworth student applicants were selected as Fulbright Scholarship finalists for 2016-17. The university has a longstanding tradition of producing such finalists, with 33 students chosen since 2000. In 2009 and 2011, Whitworth was named a top producer of Fulbright finalists among master's-level universities nationwide.

Francesca Bisciglia, '16, an international studies major with an emphasis in political science and Spanish, and Juliana Zajicek, '16, a Spanish and communications double major, were chosen as finalists in Fulbright's English Teaching Assistant Program, which places highly qualified American students in schools abroad. The participants will live and work in their host-country for nine to 10 months during the 2016-17 academic year.

"The goal of the Fulbright Program is to promote cultural exchange through local-level relationships, and this dovetails well with Whitworth's mission to train our students to honor God as they serve humanity," says Megan Hershey, Whitworth assistant professor of political science and the university's Fulbright advisor. "The Fulbright ETA award provides students with an incredible opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of another country while also providing a valuable service as they work with local schools and universities to teach English. Through these highly prestigious, fully funded awards, students gain the opportunity to learn and grow alongside their students while they also share about U.S. culture and bring key lessons from their host culture back to the U.S."

Bisciglia was selected to teach in Mexico, but instead she is attending graduate school at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn., this fall.

"I was honored to receive a Fulbright Scholarship," she says, "and deciding between this award and graduate school was a difficult decision. Being chosen for the award was exciting because it gave me the potential opportunity to develop into more of a global citizen and to gain more appreciation for other cultures and ideas." She continues, "This program allows one to deepen his or her understanding of the world, which is vital for an individual's personal and intellectual growth. I believe an education is incomplete without an intercultural exchange, and this program gives individuals the opportunity for that exchange."

Juliana Zajicek, who was selected to teach in Colombia, sees the Fulbright Scholarship as a culmination of her education at Whitworth.

"During the past four years, I look back and see the ways God has prepared me for this experience – through both the Spanish and communication departments, as well as being a resident assistant, studying abroad, and interning at World Relief," Zajicek says. "During my time in Colombia, I hope to become a part of the community and to develop meaningful connections with my students. I hope we will challenge each other's perspectives of the world, and I hope that I may understand even a portion of what their country has experienced. I also hope to serve the displaced population in some capacity, and to act as a support for the generation that is taking back its country for peace."

World Languages & Cultures Fall Event – A Dance!

Satori Dance Studio is partnering with WLC for a dance on Nov. 9, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the HUB Multipurpose Room. There will be lessons for salsa, merengue and bachata, as well as a flamenco performance. The instructor will explain steps and show how dance is a form of communication to "help you understand the language behind the music, and the music behind the dance." This event will also satisfy the cultural experience requirement for language classes. Come learn to dance a new language!

Some pictures from last year...

Dance Dance


DELE: Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language

Offered at Whitworth University Biannually!

This test provides an official accreditation of a student's degree of fluency in the Spanish language. This accreditation is issued by the Spanish Ministry of Education and is an internationally recognized certification. The test provides students an official means to demonstrate their level of fluency to potential employers. It measures fluency and accuracy across the areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Students interested in taking the DELE must take the online placement test to determine which level is right for them. The placement test can be found at

Students should make a well-informed decision in this regard as it is a Pass/Fail assessment. Please note that Whitworth University is currently certified to offer the B1, B2 and C1 exams. Students wishing to take other levels may do so at other testing sites.

Next exam date: April 17, 2017

Registration deadline: March 17, 2017

Scripture of the Month


Joshua 1:9

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."


Josué 1:9

Ya te lo he ordenado: ¡Sé fuerte y valiente! ¡No tengas miedo ni te desanimes! Porque el Señor tu Dios te acompañará dondequiera que vayas.


Josué 1:9

Ne t'ai-je pas donné cet ordre: Fortifie-toi et prends courage? Ne t'effraie point et ne t'épouvante point, car l'Eternel, ton Dieu, est avec toi dans tout ce que tu entreprendras. German: Josua 1:9 Habe ich dir nicht geboten: Sei stark und mutig? Erschrick nicht und fürchte dich nicht! Denn Jehova, dein Gott, ist mit dir überall, wohin du gehst.


约书亚记 1:9

我不是吩咐過你要堅強勇敢嗎?所以,你不要懼怕,也不要驚慌;因為你無論到哪裡去,耶和華你的 神必與你同在。"


助朱安 1:9



Yoshua 1:9

Je! Si mimi niliyekuamuru? Uwe hodari na moyo wa ushujaa; usiogope wala usifadhaike; kwa kuwa Bwana, Mungu wako, yu pamoja nawe kila uendako.

Vol. 23 Issue 1 Oct. 2016

The Modern Linguist was birthed from the desire to unite those who study in the world languages discipline at Whitworth University. The newsletter features information, news and stories applicable to those involved in the program. Let it serve you well.

World Languages & Cultures Department
Westminster Hall
Whitworth University
Phone: 509.777.4765
Department Chair and Editor-in-Chief: Jennifer Brown
Editor: Rachelle Hartvigsen
For student employment information, please contact Rachelle Hartvigsen, program assistant, at 509.777.4765