Harvard, the Only Ivy League University to Offer Albanian Language Classes

United States Albania North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Apr 07, 2023

Harvard University, United States

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the oldest university in the US, has introduced Albanian as a subject in its curriculum, becoming the only Ivy League school to offer classes in this language.

Elementary Albanian I classes have started this semester in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) department, Erudera.com reports.

The merit for introducing the Albanian language at Harvard belongs to Edona Cosovic, the daughter of Albanian immigrants from eastern Montenegro, the Harvard Magazine, a separately incorporated nonprofit affiliate of Harvard University covering the university, reports.

Cosovic, a second-year government concentrator, asked about the possibility of introducing the language at Harvard in March 2022. She said that despite growing up in the United States, she used to speak Albanian at home.

She expressed a strong desire to not forget the Albanian language but noted that it was difficult to keep up because during her childhood, her parents had limited resources and couldn’t afford to buy a television that included Albanian channels.

“We’re in school all day, we listen to American TV, everything’s in English, and they are also trying to learn English because they’re working here, and they’re also trying to make money, so we lose the language very, very quickly, within one generation,” Cosovic told the newspaper.

In March of last year, she met Eva Stathi Misho, a NELC student coordinator who expressed willingness to help with an Albanian course at Harvard. The latter had studied the Albanian language in Tirana, Albania’s capital, before pursuing classical studies in the US.

In addition to Albanian, classes in other languages, such as Aramaic, Persian, Turkish, and Yiddish, are offered at the NELC department.

It was announced earlier last year that Harvard would offer an Albanian course for the first time in the school’s history. University officials said that students wishing to learn the language would be able to choose it as a selective subject.

At that time, Faton Limani, administrator at the Harvard Department of Comparative Literature, said that the teaching of this language would be offered at three levels: elementary knowledge, intermediary knowledge, and advanced level.

Massachusetts Has the Most Educated Albanian Community

According to data from Harvard University, nearly 60 percent of American Albanians live in New York, Michigan and Massachusetts.

Of these three states, the community in Massachusetts is considered the best educated, the most employed and earns the highest annual income, but it is also the oldest in terms of demographics.

On the other hand, New York, where there are more than 60,000 Albanian-Americans, has the most Albanians with bachelor’s degrees.

“New York also hosts the largest number of high earning Albanians (about 1,800 earn at least $100,000 a year),” a report from the Center for International Development at Harvard notes.

Albanian, Among Ten Hardest Languages to Master

The Albanian language is an Indo-European language that belongs to the Illyrian branch of languages. It is considered among the most difficult languages to learn because it is not similar to other languages and has a complex grammatical structure.

It has two main dialects, the northern dialect or Gheg and the southern dialect or Tosk.

Although Albanian is an ancient language in the Balkan region, the written form dates back only to the 15th century. Today, the language is spoken in Albania, Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro.

Whilst Harvard is the only one of the eight most prestigious higher education institutions in the US (Ivy League) to offer Albanian classes, a few other universities across the US teach Albanian too.

These institutions are:

  • Arizona State University
  • DePaul University
  • Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York

Columbia University was the first to teach Albanian from 1932 until the 1960s.

>> Harvard College’s Admission Rate Plummets Again, 3,4% of Students Accepted For Class of 2027

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