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Tom J.
First- and Second-year Russian, Summers 2010 and 2011
Non-Traditional Student

"From an early age, I’ve always wanted to learn and be functional in a language other than English. When I “unexpectedly” retired in 2010 at the age of 50, I thought this was my opportunity to learn a new language. I contacted colleges that offered “intensive” programs and found that Beloit had a unique commitment to the teaching and learning of the spoken language.

The Beloit CLS Director revealed that they previously had “non-traditional” students take CLS courses and that those students had been very successful in the program. I have now taken the 1st and 2nd-year Russian courses at CLS in consecutive summers. Completing CLS is not difficult for a non-traditional student. All you have to do is bring the same work ethic that you bring to your job or career and a commitment to learning the more.

I am now having conversations – not just saying “hello” and “goodbye” – with Russian-speaking people who cannot speak any English. These same people knew me before I went to the first CLS course, when I could not even say “hello” or “goodbye” in Russian, and they are amazed at my progress in learning their (and “my” new) language.

I took German for seven years in high school and college and never attained the ability to speak the language that I have now in Russian after only 16 weeks of CLS Russian (1st and 2nd courses). A whole new life has been opened up to me just because I made a commitment to learning a new language and put forth my normal effort. I now have interests in the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine and am trying to build more.

Beloit College will forever be a part of me, because of the friendships I have made there, the high quality of CLS instruction, and the effort I put into learning Russian there."