H. Ní Aódagaín Profile
Mono-Lingualism can be Cured!
The lead teacher in UCC’s World Languages program, Honora Ní Aódagaín, is known affectionately on campus simply as “Ní Aódagaín.” Her name begs to be pronounced with the inflection of a soft Irish brogue, giving students an immediate sense of her international focus.
As an instructor for both UCC’s Spanish and French courses, Ní Aódagaín loves to quote a bumper sticker a student recently gifted her with: “mono-lingualism can be cured.” And curing students’ fear of learning a second language is one of the key goals of UCC’s World Languages department. “I work very hard to create a friendly, open environment where students feel comfortable to explore languages without feeling inadequate, embarrassed, or uncomfortable,” Ní Aódagaín explains.
Even though she is already fluent in three languages, Ní Aódagaín would like to learn more. “One of my students got me interested in Russian, and looking at that language --which is so different from English-- is helping me relate to students who struggle in language courses.”
Ní Aódagaín’s students acquire language skills by using the classroom as a laboratory, practicing their semantics and syntax in group conversations. “Yesterday Ní Aódagaín put us in a skit where we were all Europeans, and we had to talk about how we felt about each other. It was hilarious,” says second year French student, Whitney Davis. Other classes have students singing “Frere Jacques” or exchanging greetings in Spanish.
A second language is an asset that Ní Aódagaín believes will become increasingly essential as Americans continue to compete in the global market. “Our citizens are so far behind in language acquisition that it’s frightening. In other countries, the norm is that people speak two or three languages. The traditional isolationist concepts that Americans have relied on are outdated. Educators must now make sure that our students become bilingual or multi-lingual so that they can compete.”
Recently, Ní Aódagaín represented UCC in Aranda De Duero, Spain as a facilitator to explore the possibilities of a future educational exchange program. She has also served as the resident director in Mexico of the International University Studies Institute for UCC and University of Oregon students, and has worked as an interpreter for UCC nursing trips to Guatemala.
Ní Aódagaín has a B.S. in Counseling from Louisiana State University and a M.A. in Romance Languages from the University of Oregon. She has taught at UCC for ten years.