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WLL adds Applied Track with Professional Studies Minor option to language major programs

NKU career fair


Starting in Fall 2023, students will have two track options in the French, German, Japanese and Spanish major programs: the traditional "Cultural & Literary Studies" track or a new track in Applied French, German, Japanese or Spanish with a required minor (or double major) in a professions-oriented discipline. Options for professional studies minors include Computer Science, Construction Management, Data Science, Environmental Studies, Finance, International Business, Marketing, Pre-Law, Public Service, Sports Business and Event Management—to name just a few!

The Applied Language major tracks are the result of our work creating new career-focused courses over the past several years to better prepare our students for jobs after graduation in which they might utilize their language of study. In addition to the business language courses (FRE/GER/JPN/SPI 340) that we have been offering for many years, we created Introduction to Translation courses in French, German, Japanese and Spanish (FRE/GER/JPN/SPI 307) and a variable topics Language for the Professions course (FRE/GER/JPN/SPI 294) in each of our major/minor programs, as well as an internship course (WLL 396).

The Applied Language tracks also require two professions-oriented courses in the language of study. This track is designed to develop industry-specific skills and competencies to further enhance future employment opportunities in a variety of fields after graduation.

WLL 2022-2023 Student Award Winners & Other Recognitions

Phi Sigma Iota - Gamma Phi Chapter (International Foreign language Honor Society)

Phi Sigma Iota International Foreign Language Honor Society, New Members:

Fall 2022 ​

  •  Stephen Brueggen (German Major)​
  •  Landon Howell (Spanish Minor)​
  •  Jacob Hunter (Japanese Major)​
  •  Emily Von Holle (Japanese Major)​

Spring 2023 ​

  • Alicia Boothe (Japanese Major)​
  • Zackary Fries (German Major)​

FLAIS: Foreign Language Award For International Study Winners In AY 2022-23

Study abroad students in Japan, standing in the snow next to a snow sculpture

WLL offers department-level support for study abroad through the Foreign Language Award for International Study (FLAIS). Since it was established in 2005, FLAIS has awarded nearly $40,000 to over 100 language majors and minors to support study abroad experiences. FLAIS is entirely funded by donations from faculty, staff, alumni and community members. This fall we will be doing an IMPACT campaign to raise funds to support FLAIS and future WLL students who study abroad. Look out for that on WLL social media:

Facebook @WLL.NKU

Instagram: nku_worldlanglit

Fall 2022

  • Isabella Bonner, German Major, Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Jackson Lehrter, German Major, Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Ashley Mullins, French Major, Université de Caen Normandie

Spring 2023

  • Daniel Arway, Japanese Major, Nanzan University
  • Stephen Brueggen, German Major, Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Alex Ford, Japanese Minor, Nanzan University

Summer 2023

  • Aaron Cook, Japanese Major, Gifu University Summer Program
  • Katherine Creech, Spanish Major, USAC Summer Program, Alicante, Spain
  • Oliver Davis, Japanese Major, Nanzan University Summer Program (8 week)

Other WLL students studying abroad in Summer 2023 are:

  • Alisha Boothe, Japanese Major, Nanzan University Summer Program (4 Week)
  • Antwanzia Fant, Japanese Minor, Nanzan University Summer Program (4 Week)

2022-2023 Student Award Winners

Every spring the department holds an award ceremony to recognize outstanding majors who are graduating and best students in our lesser taught languages. Here are this year's award-winning students!


Outstanding French Major: Ashley Mullins​, French Major & German Minor, Spring 2023
Ashley Mullins
Outstanding German Major: Adam Wiley, German & History Major, Fall 2022
Adam Wiley
Outstanding Japanese Major: Jacob Hunter​, Japanese & Theatre Arts Major, Marketing Minor, Fall 2022
Jacob Hunter
Outstanding Spanish Major: Megan Taylor​, Spanish Major & Studio Arts Minor, Fall 2022
Megan Taylor
Best Teacher Candidate​: Cassandra Anderson, Spanish & Secondary Education Majors, Spring 2023
Cassandra Anderson
Reconocimiento de Excelencia Académica en Español​: Alicia Cordero, Spanish Major & Criminal Justice Minor, Spring 2023
Alicia Cordero


Best Korean Students: Justin Kim & Paul Kim​

Best Latin Student: Monica Robertson​


Félicitations! Tibi congratulationes! おめでとうございます!

축하합니다! Herzlichen glückwunsch! ¡¡Felicitaciones!!

WLL Spotlight on Scholarship

Dr. Junko Agnew
Caryn Connelly

In January 2022, Dr. Junko Agnew (Assistant Professor of Japanese) had a biography of Manchukuo writer Gu Ding published on the Manchuria, Literature and Culture: 1900 – website run out of the University of Guelph and for which she currently serves as an Associate Editor. You can read Gu Ding's bio here:

In April 2023, Dr. Caryn Connelly, Associate Professor of Spanish and WLL Chair, participated in a panel discussion at the 76th Kentucky Foreign Language Conference held at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. She and a group of fellow alumni of the Spanish program at the University of Minnesota collaborated on organizing a panel discussion on the status and situation of world languages in the current higher ed landscape that was part of the “Languages for the Professions” division of the conference.

Panel abstract: “The future of world languages: Driving without a road map or GPS, or how did we get here and where are we going?”

This panel will be an open discussion on the state of our profession today. The panelists are a group of alums who graduated from an R1 university and now hold tenured positions in a variety of institutions. Topics to be addressed include how our graduate school training in literary/cultural analysis prepared us for our professional lives after graduate school, the evolving reality of the profession after graduate school, the experience of taking on leadership roles in our institutions, learning to navigate a new (and everchanging, especially during COVID) higher ed landscape, the increasing demand to provide students with professional and career oriented experiences and the challenges and effectiveness of doing so, and more broadly, the state of the discipline of world languages now and what the future might hold.

Individual Abstract:

Caryn Connelly: “Working to Develop Meaningful and Relevant Language Programs in Today’s Higher Ed Landscape.”

I will speak from the perspective as long-time (since July 2013) chair of the World Languages and Literatures Department at Northern Kentucky University, a mid-size regional comprehensive university in Kentucky that is only a few miles from downtown Cincinnati, OH. I will discuss our efforts to develop professions-oriented courses and a “professions track” in our French, German, Japanese and Spanish majors; NKU’s role as the only university in Kentucky to offer a Japanese language major; the expected (based on what has been happening throughout the U.S.) enrollment declines in our French and German major programs, and unexpected enrollment declines in our Spanish major program, and what this might mean for our status as an independent world languages department; our attempts to connect/promote language study to other disciplines/programs at the university, and other issues related to our efforts to assert our relevance and future in the current landscape of higher education.

Alumni Spotlight with Arin Arnold-Davis

Arin graduated from NKU with a double major in French and History. While at NKU she did a semester abroad in France. She then went on to pursue a Master of Arts in History in which she combined her love of the French language and culture with her passion for history to write her MA thesis on French women living in France during age of imperialism.

Since July 2020 she has been work as a Project Manager at VisitLEX, the official tourism account for Lexington, KY. Her job involves database and website management, accessibility, and sustainability in tourism. She responded to our alumni survey about her language studies and how they have impacted her personally and professionally.

Cassie Rinehard

Why did you choose to major or minor in a language?

I always loved studying different cultures and how language shapes who a society is. French is such a beautiful and widely-spoken language that I continued to study it throughout undergrad and grad school.

How do you apply your language skills and/or cultural knowledge in your professional and/or personal life?

French language got me through my Master’s thesis where I was able to read every edition Vogue Paris from the year 1920 to 1936 looking for colonial themes and undertones in advertisements. While I don’t use my French language every day in my job at a destination marketing organization, language studies helped mold my brain. Studying in France also sparked my love for travel and helps me get into the mindset of travelers who come to Lexington, KY for their vacation.

Why do you believe that language study is important?

Language study helps mold you into a better world citizen. Not only does learning another language help you understand your native language better, it also helps for you to understand other cultures, gets you around the world, and opens your eyes to things beyond your backyard.

If you are a WLL alum and would like to let us know what you are up to so we can feature you in future newsletters, scan this QR code to access our survey!

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Faculty Spotlight with Kajsa Larson

Kajsa Larson is a Professor of Spanish and also serves as the faculty coordinator for the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project. She has been with NKU since the Fall of 2010. We asked Dr. Larson some questions so that we could get to know more about her and her experience here at NKU and beyond.

Where are you originally from?

I am originally from St. Paul, Minnesota.

Where did you earn your undergraduate and graduate degrees, and what were your major(s) and minor(s)?

I double majored in Political Science and Spanish and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College, a small liberal arts school in St. Peter, Minnesota (population: 10,000). My great grandfather, my grandmother, my aunt, and my dad all went to that school, and I was the first (and only) of my generation to do so. The family tradition was a motivator to attend Gustavus.

I earned my doctorate in Spanish (the official name of the degree program is quite the mouthful: Hispanic and Lusophone Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics) from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. My area of specialization was Twentieth- and twenty-first century Peninsular Literature and Culture (“Peninsular” referring to literature from Spain). I also did a minor in History.

Kajsa Larson

How long have you been teaching, what and where?

I started teaching Spanish in 2003 when I started graduate school at the University of Minnesota. Before that, I briefly taught social studies at a boarding school in Scotland.

You have been at NKU for 12 years, what do you like about working at here?

I think NKU is a great school and I love my colleagues, not only in the Department of World Languages and Literatures but those in other departments as well. I think the campus is a comfortable size and I really think NKU is a great place to earn a college degree. Professors know and care about their students, yet students have a lot of autonomy and can enjoy the amenities and resources of the greater urban area.

What are your research interests? How have they changed or evolved over the years?

For my doctoral dissertation, I wrote about the memory of thirteen young women who were executed in 1939 during the Spanish Civil War (nicknamed the Thirteen Roses) and how their story had been passed on, and even changed, over time. I continued with Spanish Civil War research and the exhumation of mass graves. While important, I realized that I needed to step away from such serious and traumatic topics for a bit. This is when I transitioned to research about teaching practices and the incorporation of community engagement in the classroom. Currently, I help to direct my favorite campus-wide student program, the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project. Classes are given $2,000 in grant money and the students are tasked with investing those funds in local nonprofits related to the course topic that they are studying. I am the faculty coordinator to the program.   

What is an interesting fact about yourself that people might not know?

One of my favorite music genres is reggae! When I tell my students that, not everyone knows how to react. And, I love birds and have two spoiled conures (but most people know that about me).

Recipes from Around the World

Patatas bravas

This is a popular Spanish tapa that can be found as a snack in bars in Spain or an appetizer at parties. It is one of Dr. Connelly’s “go to” dishes to take to potlucks! It is served at room temperature.

Patatas bravas

  • 3 lbs. potatoes (Yukon Gold are nice for this), cut into ½-¾ inch thick cubes or slices
  • Salt, black pepper & paprika to taste
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup + 2-3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 can of undrained diced tomatoes with green chilies (medium or hot). Note: I use 14.5 oz can of Red Gold brand; if you use the Rotel brand you will have to add about ¼ cup additional diced tomatoes with juice or tomato sauce since Rotel cans are 10 ounces.
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 3 tbs. flour or 1.5 tbs. corn starch
  • Optional: These have a kick thanks to the green chilies, but if you like spicy food, feel free to add a couple of jiggers of your favorite hot sauce to the brava sauce at the end of cooking



Making the potatoes:

  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Wash, cube and rinse the potatoes—you can peel them if you like, but I usually don’t. Pat them dry with a paper towel and put them into a large bowl. Add 2-3 tbs olive oil and ½ to 1 tsp each of salt, black pepper and paprika. Toss with a large spoon to mix.
  • Bake the potatoes on a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper for 25-30 minutes until golden and completely cooked.
  • ·Let them cool before tossing in the brava sauce.

Making the brava sauce:

  •  the potatoes are cooking, heat ¼ cup olive oil on medium heat in a medium to large skillet. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.
  • Add the can of tomatoes (don’t drain!) and heat until they start to gently bubble, at which point add the vinegar, then the flour or corn starch. Let the brava sauce cook gently for a couple of minutes until thickened. NOTE: If it is too thick add some water (or more vinegar) or too thin add a bit more flour or corn starch or tomato paste—no more than 1 tbs at a time until it reaches the consistency of thick ketchup.

Putting it all together:

  • Once the potatoes and the sauce have cooled to room temperature, in a large bowl combine the two and toss gently with a large spoon until potatoes are coated in the sauce. As noted above, serve at room temperature.