Investigating the Foreign Language Needs of Professional School Students in International Affairs: A Case Study

Main Article Content

James E. Purpura
Janine Graziano-King


On-going demographic changes and increasing globalization have challenged professional schools to prepare students for the plurilinguistic and pluricultural realities of the workplace both within and across national boundaries. Given these evolving workplace realities, professional schools may need to re-assess the degree to which their students’ career needs are being met by existing language programs, so that policy and resources can be adjusted accordingly. The current inquiry reports on a large-scale assessment designed to investigate the foreign language needs of students in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University and to evaluate the degree to which these needs are being addressed. Recognizing that different stakeholders may have opposing perceptions of foreign language needs, this study utilized a conceptual model of needs assessment that surveyed multiple sources of data within and across a variety of stakeholder groups. These perceived needs were then examined and compared. The findings showed a disparity among the needs of the professional school students, foreign language instruction, and SIPA’s language policy. The model of needs assessment used in this study served as an invaluable framework for examining the different dimensions of foreign language needs.

Article Details