This history of the Department of Modern Languages and Translation Studies, as it is known today, dates back to the 1975/76 session when the University of Calabar was still a campus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. In 1976 when the University was statutorily established, the Department was called Department of Modern Languages offering a degree programme in French with subsidiary in German.
In 1982, the Department was enlarged and renamed Department of Languages and Linguistics introducing thus the Linguistic component into the programme, that is, two programmes in one. It became necessary to restructure and reposition the Department as constituted, so as to cater for all aspects of French studies in addition to German, Spanish, African and Caribbean Literature, and Comparative Literature. A request for bifurcation and creation of a separate autonomous Department of Modern Languages was put before the Senate in line with this thinking.
At its 135th meeting of the 24th of January, 2002, approval was granted for bifurcation with effect from the 2002/2003 academic session. The objective was to create a favorable setting for the Unit, so as to enable it to grow and to function satisfactorily in catering for the academic needs in its area of coverage.
Soon after separation, issues of relevance came to the fore. It was felt that despite its prominence in our programme, there was nothing under its nomenclature to suggest that Translation was being taught at all in the Department of Modern Languages. Given the imperatives of diplomacy, globalization and integration in the West African sub-region, it was thought that Translation Studies be given sufficient weighting and be reflected in the name of the Department. It was also felt that the Department should respond to public demand for translation studies and cater for the needs of the modern commercial world.
In order to make this response conspicuous and be seen, even in the name of the Department, a request for change of name was sought and obtained. Senate, at its 148th meeting of 27th January 2005, approved the change of nomenclature.
Since then, the Department has been known and called the Department of Modern Languages and Translation Studies. As of today, the department is housed in the Aliko Dangote consultancy Building, where it occupies the ground floor.
In terms of staffing, the Department has a highly trained and quality team, made of twenty-six (26) full-time and part-time lecturers. There are fourteen (14) non-academic staff, comprising a Chief Technologist in-charge of the Language Laboratory, a Principal Confidential Secretary, Administrative Officers, Administrative Assistants, Executive Officers, Computer Operators and Clerical Officers.
The Department has also grown in strength student wise, rising from only eighteen (18) in 1976 to about seven hundred (700) in 2005. Today, the number has dropped to about three hundred (300).
The Department now offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in French Language, Translation and International Relations. Before now, German was taught at subsidiary levels, but presently it has been replaced by Spanish, due to the factthat the latter is a lingua franca in Equatorial Guinea, a neighbouring country, close to Calabar. Other languages may be introduced from time to time depending on the availability of staff and resources, and in response to need.