As part of its effort to prepare students to be part of our globalized world, Virginia Tech partners with George Mason University and James Madison University through 4-VA, a consortium that increases the competitive impact of all universities and improves access to higher education through collaboration, including shared language courses.

With classmates at these partner institutions, Virginia Tech students can take courses in elementary Portuguese, Turkish, and Korean, as well as advanced courses in Chinese and Italian, using the telepresence technology in 1100C Torgersen Hall. Class sizes are small, which allows students to get a lot of guidance and feedback in developing their language skills. Students can also increase their technology skills simply by interacting in the room while also making connections and learning with a broader range of peer group and professors.

These are not online courses. They are taught in real time via telepresence. Using large projection screens and sophisticated technology, the telepresence system makes students feel as if they were in the same room as those accessing the course at other universities.

These courses are in addition to the courses taught on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, ancient and modern Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish.

“The value of 4-VA is that it affords students the opportunity to take courses in languages or at levels that we do not currently offer,“ says Jacqueline Bixler, chair of the Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures. “It also allows our universities to continue to offer less commonly taught languages without the fear of the courses being canceled due to low enrollment.”

Bixler also notes that “many departments across campus are developing or already offering study abroad programs in places where the language spoken is among those considered ‘less commonly taught,’ such as Turkish, Persian, Korean, and Hindi,” all of which can be offered through the 4-VA system.

The state's commitment to 4-VA is an acknowledgment of the importance of foreign languages in preparing our students for a globalized “real world.”

Students, faculty, and staff can find these courses on the Timetable Calendar and register for them as they would for any on-campus course. Spring 2015 courses include Portuguese 1106 and 2984, Chinese 3984, and Italian 3984.

For more information, please contact Jacqueline Bixler at



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