It started with an idea. In 1960, Gerhard Haukebo, Ph.D., a Concordia College faculty member, suggested the college initiate an innovative program using immersion techniques to teach language. At the time, language education in the United States was focused on the academic pursuit of understanding language and grammar. The idea, as Dr. Haukebo articulated it, was to create extensive opportunities for children to learn and then apply the language within an appropriate cultural context. In short, he wanted to make it possible for children to live the language.
Concordia College sponsored the project in the summer of 1961. The college rented Luther Crest Bible Camp, north of Alexandria, Minn., for the first two-week German session. “Camp Waldsee,” which was limited to 72 campers aged 9-12, was a resounding success.
Interest in the program increased steadily and more “Villages” were organized. In addition to German (1961), French (1962) was added the second year. Spanish and Norwegian (1963) followed. Russian (1966) was a bold addition during the height of the Cold War.
The Nordic languages grew when Swedish (1975), Finnish (1978), and Danish (1982) were added. Soon, a focus on Asian language learning developed into villages for Chinese (1984), Japanese (1988) and Korean (1999). Then they took what they knew about children and foreign language learning and applied it to their own language and culture with the addition of English (1999). Italian (2003) and Arabic (2006) and Portuguese, added in 2008, are the newest Villages.
The mission of Concordia Language Villages is to inspire courageous global citizens.
A courageous global citizen lives responsibly by:
• appreciating and seeking to understand diverse cultural perspectives;
• communicating with confidence and cultural sensitivity in multiple languages;
• respecting human dignity and cultivating compassion;
• engaging critically and creatively with issues that transcend boundaries; and
• advancing a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world for all.
Concordia Language Villages reflects the mission of Concordia College, which is to influence the affairs of the world by sending into society thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life. The college’s mission is inclusive in composition, global in scope and reconciling in intention.
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