The Modern Linguist

Eye on Alumni

Rachel Means, '14, English and Music

Way-lee Yuan

In August 2016 I moved to Germany, where I'm serving as a missionary in the Black Forest region. So much has happened since then that I can't begin to describe all of my adventures. But here are a few of the highlights: My mission work is at a school, Black Forest Academy, which is a Christian boarding school intended primarily for the children of missionaries. The school's approximately 300 students come from more than 60 countries, and many of the students have lived on multiple continents. It is a middle school and a high school, and I work with all of the age groups as a music teacher, which gives me the chance to work one-on-one with many of the students. The photo on the right shows the 2017 senior class holding the flags of some of the countries our student body represents. I'm currently working on "Star Wars" music with my high school orchestra; "Jingle Bells" with my beginning orchestra; and fiddle tunes with some of my private-lesson students. My job is eclectic, but I've discovered that I love working with these students and that Germany is wonderful.

Way-lee Yuan

One of the things that I find amazing about Europe is how close everything is. The town where I work, Kandern, is about 20 minutes from the Swiss border and half an hour from the French border. A few weeks ago I was able to drive down to Italy for the weekend! This also provides opportunities for the students. The high-school students had class trips in September: the freshmen visited some nearby World War II trenches, the sophomores went to a nearby concentration camp, the juniors took a weekend trip to Normandy, and the seniors spent a week in Rome, Florence and Venice. I wish I had field trips like that in high school! (By the way, if any of you go to Italy – which you should if you have a chance – either don't drive at all or rent a really small car. My friend and I nearly got stuck when the streets ended up narrower than our car. We also accidentally drove into some kind of gated area and spent five minutes trying to use our nonexistent Italian to explain to the guard that we were just exploring. I wouldn't recommend doing that, either!

Way-lee Yuan

I also found a great opportunity to be involved in the German community through my landlady. I'm a violinist, and it turned out that my landlady also plays the violin and is a member of a local community orchestra! My German is still a work in progress, so the language barrier is an interesting challenge, but the orchestra is wonderful. I still can't quite understand how it works, but there are members who speak only German, French or English, and somehow the conductor (who is French but conducts rehearsals in German) manages to make sure everyone understands enough to get by.

I really wasn't sure what to expect when I first moved here, but I think the biggest challenges for me have been shopping at the grocery store, driving and teaching, probably in that order. You wouldn't think it would be so hard to buy cheese, but there are 20 kinds and I don't recognize any of them! But all of it was worth it when I walked into the grocery store and saw an entire wall devoted to chocolate.

Since I've moved to Germany I've gotten lost (more times than I'm willing to admit), started my first year as a teacher (I'm still pretty sure I only agreed in a temporary moment of insanity), bought a few things that were definitely not what I thought they were, short-circuited my apartment's power (twice. Oops! European outlets do NOT work well with U.S. plugs!), gone to four countries (and hopefully more soon), and had more adventures than I intended (but not more than I wanted). I'd appreciate it if you would pray for me and for the Black Forest Academy, and if any of you are ever in the area, please stop by. I'd love to show you around!

This is one of my violin students playing in the chapel worship team.


Eye on Alumni

Lauren Davies, '13, Spanish

Lauren-DaviesI worked as a program assistant at Whitworth's Costa Rica Center for 2013-14. Sagen Eatwell and Cameron Williams, both '13, and I organized study-abroad semesters for Whitworth students. We coordinated their host-family stays, internships, trips within Costa Rica and to Nicaragua and Cuba, and met with them one-on-one several times throughout the semester to help them process what they were learning. We also taught a free weekly English class to nearly 40 people in the community, planted trees to offset our carbon footprint, took cultural excursions to Nicaragua and Cuba, and had thought-provoking debriefing sessions about our experiences. It has been so fun to see the students I worked with during my year of service in Costa Rica apply what they learned abroad to their lives back in the United States. Many of them are currently serving in other countries. I am really blessed to have shared a small part in their stories and to watch them become teachers and seekers of justice.

After the CRC closed in 2014, I used my Krista Foundation Service Leadership Scholarship to get my TESOL certificate, and I taught English for a year in San Jose, Costa Rica, to adult students. My students were so much fun, and I quickly bonded with them through class activities and conversations before and after class. Their eagerness to learn made my job fun and exciting, and it was so rewarding to see their progress through the classes and practice. During that year of teaching, I was able to learn Portuguese at my language institute, using the same methodology in my classes that I was using to teach my students English. I'm so grateful for the relationships I built during my year of teaching and that I was able to learn a third language!

Crowd-dogI had a very strong "God moment" one day while I was talking with a coworker in Costa Rica who was also from Washington state. He asked me when I was going to return to the U.S., and without thinking I said, "in September." Before that moment, every time before that I had thought about returning to the U.S., I basically had had a panic attack, so the fact that I felt a strong sense of peace about returning was reassuring to me.

Even though I had spent a year preparing college students for what returning to the U.S. after being abroad, I was definitely not prepared for what hit me when I moved back to Washington in September 2015. I was hoping to begin a full-time job, have a set schedule, make friends... but none of that happened. Despite my experiences abroad and my language abilities, I had a really hard time finding work and quickly became discouraged. I spent a lot of time outside and took advantage of my part-time work status to train for a backpacking trip. At the end of July, my mom and I went on an 11-day, 100-mile backpacking trip around Mount Rainier, where we were surrounded by God's glory. On Sept. 9, 2016, I accepted a position with the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a Wish Coordinator for Eastern Washington.


At Make-A-Wish, I am able to serve kids with life-threatening illnesses in Eastern Washington every day. I am the first bilingual wish coordinator in Eastern Washington. In my short time working with Make-A-Wish, my Spanish skills have been vital to the organization. I have caught grammar mistakes in paperwork, communicated with several families, and translated countless documents. I am currently working on about 15 wishes for Spanish-speaking kids in Eastern Washington, and I am able to make the wish process go much more quickly than before due to my ability to communicate directly with them. I am so thankful that I am able to work in an environment where I am using my Spanish skills to make a difference.

A View from Abroad

Lauren Noonan, '16, French and Francophone Studies

Lauren-NoonanEvery morning as I walk to university, I look up to the mountains and see a small cross perched atop a peak. It is my small and gentle reminder that God is present with me during my semester here in France.

I study French at the Université Savoie Mont Blanc in Chambéry, a quiet little town nestled into the French Alps. I am taking literature and language courses with French students, and it is challenging. My language skills are being stretched as I attend lectures in French, work on projects with my French classmates, and attempt to navigate a different system of higher education in my second language. I have learned to accept that my classrooms change every week, that my professors are habitually late, and that I can sit through a two-hour lecture without understanding a single thing.

Lauren-Noonan-FranceIt has been so humbling to live in a new place, and especially one where I speak a foreign language most of the time. I rely on others to help me do simple, everyday tasks like mail a postcard and buy lunch at school. I sometimes feel like I cannot express my true self to my new friends, simply because I don't have the necessary vocabulary to do so. Attending church is a time for both spiritual learning and language learning. Navigating new relationships in French is harder than I could have ever imagined; it is the hardest thing about being here in France.

Every day is a challenge, and yet every day is a blessing. When I can't express myself in French, God reminds me that He understands me completely. When I am missing my church in Spokane, God takes me to His body here in Chambéry. When I feel exhausted after thinking in French, God gives me energy to invest in others. When I feel lonely, God shows me that He is present. Being in France has helped me grow. I am more confident in my French, especially my spoken French. I cherish fellowship with fellow believers, and the ability to praise God in any language. I am humbled by the fact that my efforts will never lead to perfection. I daily lean on the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord for strength, joy and perspective.


Every evening as I climb into bed, I am exhausted from a day of thinking, speaking, learning and laughing in French. It is my small and gentle reminder that I can't do this alone, and that God is present.

"Je lève mes yeux vers les montagnes… D'ou me viendra le secours? Le secours me vient de l'Éternel, qui a fait les cieux et la terre" (Psaume 121:1-2)

"I lift my eyes up to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2)

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.

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


Hebrews 12:28-29

"Therefore, since we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe."


Hebreos 12:28-29

Donc, puisque nous recevons un royaume qui ne peut pas être secoué, nous laisser montrer la gratitude par laquelle nous pouvons offrir à Dieu un service acceptable avec la révérence et la crainte.


Hebräer 12:28-29

Deshalb, da wir ein Königreich erhalten, das nicht geschüttelt werden kann, uns Dankbarkeit zeigen lassen, durch die wir Gott einen annehmbaren Dienst mit Verehrung und Ehrfurcht anbieten können.


希伯来书 12:28-29

所以我们收到联合王国是不能动摇的, 让我们感激, 我们可能会向神的一种可接受的服务与尊敬和敬畏。"





Waebrania 12:28-29

Kwa sababu hiyo, tangu sisi kupokea ufalme usioweza kutikiswa, hebu kuonyesha shukrani ambazo zinaweza kutufanya kumtolea Mungu utumishi unaokubalika kwa ibada na hofu.

Vol. 23 Issue 2 Nov. 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

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