MRU Diversifies World Languages to Better Suit Local and International Demand


For those interested in World Languages at MRU, a conversation with Post Media might have been lost in translation.

Due to the changing demands for Language courses, MRU Continuing Education is strategically diversifying its offerings to be conscious of its impact to both the local and global marketplace.

Mount Royal University’s response to the needs of the student population is to move to a more customized model. As a result, some language courses will no longer be offered in the form of open enrolment registration.

“Where we’ve seen a shift in demand has been in subject-specific language education. Customized courses such as English for Flight Dispatchers or Italian for Travel have been successful ways of implementing the teaching skills of our language experts into tangible industry-specific target markets,” says Jenelle Peterson, Director of Business Development and Marketing at the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension at MRU.

Those looking for basic language training options can look to our partner institution the University of Calgary, which we’ve worked closely with to ensure that quality language training is readily available in our city. In alliance with Adult Learning, Languages and Liberal Arts at the University of Calgary, the agreement was made for the two institutions to strategize their combined offerings.

Leigh-Ann Duke, former Program Administrator, World Languages at MRU says, “Both institutions weren’t making minimum registration so they had to cancel.”

“We, too, have struggled with enrolment levels in the past few years,” claims Dr. Sheila LeBlanc, Director of Continuing Education at the University of Calgary, “so we wanted to work with MRU to ensure we weren’t competing or cannibalizing each other’s programs. A business decision was made to continue to service the needs of our collective students.”

The University of Calgary still offers open enrolment language classes.

Mount Royal University will add value to these options with customized language training.

Where MRU is seeing a considerable increase is in English language training. In Calgary, there are countless new Calgarians, including many refugee families, to whom these courses have been catered. In addition, there are foreign trained professionals who have the skills of their occupation, but require the language and cultural instruction to successfully integrate into their field here in Canada.

Globally, MRU has become a leader in building relationships with other post-secondary institutions to offer English language training to experienced teachers and professors who are now required to offer their courses in English to meet the demands of the world.

Juan Manuel Lopez is a professor Art and Entrepreneurship at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico. He was one of a ten-student classroom of teachers from the four campuses of his institution who spent the last two weeks at MRU training to offer their courses in English.

“We are receiving students from all over the world,” Lopez says, “We want to offer them a quality education.”

Globally, like the University of Guanajuato, many institutions are required to teach their courses in English to meet the international demand and to further globalize their programs. With customized language training opportunities like this, Lopez notes, “We are able to teach multicultural classrooms.”

This reorganization of MRU’s Languages program has been advantageous for Language instructors at MRU. Peterson explains, “No loss of staff has occurred. Our contract instructors are, in most cases, receiving more hours per customized course, so it’s a mutually beneficial move for both students and staff.”

“We believe we have found a wonderful niche in English training,” concludes Peterson. “All in all, this strategy allows both Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary to run more language courses while remaining service-minded for our students here and abroad.”

Find out more information about Customized Language Training at MRU.

– by JLove

Juan Manuel Lopez (back row, far right) and fellow University of Guanajuato professors learning how to teach in English at MRU




Space Invader: Chris Hadfield First Canadian Astronaut to Walk in (our) Space

The Darkest Dark
(photo Olaf Blomerus)

“If you want to know what it’s like to play guitar in space…” says famed Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, “You go into a nice room in your house, put the guitar on the ground, stand on your head for about 2 to 3 hours, and then pick up the guitar and play while standing on your head. That’s what it’ll feel like.”

Hadfield was the first astronaut to walk on the Bella Concert Hall stage this past week.  What’s more… he brought his guitar.

As an observation of subtle genius, his guitar strap was populated with pixalized forms from the early video game Space Invaders. His presentation was filled with anecdotes from his arctic explorations, personal family history and stories from space. But, this wasn’t a typical PowerPoint presentation, he told these stories through music.

As the foremost innovator of music in space, he’s not always used to being so grounded when he plays. “For the guitar,” he explains that in the weightlessness of space, “there’s no point in having a strap. I’m pinching it underneath my bicep.” For everything there is a logical scientific explanation. “If you’re trying to bar-chord up and down the fret board, you don’t have any weight to your arm. Your cues are wrong, so your muscle memory’s wrong. Therefore, you miss chords all the time.” The specificity of the observation leads him to a calculated course of action to overcome the challenge. To conclude, he identifies, “You have to relearn.”

Learning is key for this engineer/fighter pilot/astronaut/space station commander. He has more ‘firsts’ on his list of accomplishments than Wayne Gretzky has hockey records. All of it has come from the need to innovate to accomplish his chosen mission.

The first human to record an album in space, Hadfield released Space Sessions: Songs from a Tin Can on Oct. 31, 2015. It’s a compilation of fifteen songs written about and from his space adventures. He notes, “I flew in space 3 times and served as an astronaut for 21 years. So, a lot of the inspiration comes from the legacy of the things I did in the past.” He flashes forward, “A couple of the tunes I recorded had been partially written beforehand. Some of them were completely from scratch.”

Just how did he accomplish this on such a limited schedule while commanding the International Space Station in its continuous orbit? He admits, “There’s not much free time on a spaceship, but just before bed every night when the big schedule said ‘sleep’, I would play guitar for a while.”

While he played, the whole world listened. Hadfield was the first person ever to have the entire globe as his engaged audience on social media. “We had slow internet up there,” he confesses, “Twitter was perfect because it takes such little bandwidth, so I could communicate using social media like we never done before. And the reaction was amazing.”

For all the scientific breakthroughs, it seemed that the best way to explain the almost unexplainable, the feeling of weightlessness or the boundless eternal darkness was through art. It’s what humans do. “Space flight is a wildly different and richly stimulating environment, a very new one for humanity. You can start to get a feel for what it means to you and then hope to explain it to other people and use technology to show them.”

In the closing question period to the sold out audience at the Bella Concert Hall, he emphasized his positive and progressive outlook on striving. Using audience members’ questions to frame his scenarios, his message was one of overcoming challenges, pushing boundaries and lifelong learning.

It wasn’t a technical presentation. As he notes, “Machinery enables, but people are interesting.” Expressing that his followers on social media have more than doubled since he landed back on his home planet, he outlines, “It’s not just the space flight that was interesting to other people. It was the human observation and impact of it and perspective that interests people… self included.”

Chris Hadfield remained in the lobby signing books and taking photos with his devoted co-earthlings until 11:30pm, a true testament to how much he values and commits to personal connection.

– by JLove

Space Invader
Home Planet Storyteller