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Department of Modern Languages

When the Vidyalankara University was established on 1st January 1959 according to Parliamentary Act.45 of 1958, five faculties were established including the Faculty of Languages. Oriental Languages such as Pali, Sanskrit, Hindi and English were taught in the departmental level. An initiative was taken to teach foreign languages in 1962/63. Accordingly, steps were taken to teach the Russian language with the support of the Russian Embassy in Sri Lanka and consequently, German and French were taught from 1963/64 with native lecturers coming from the respective counties.

The Department of Modern Languages was established in 1974 and foreign languages were taught by this department thereafter. This included Hindi, and Professor Samson Weerathunge functioned as the head of the department.

The new department of Modern Languages offered many languages such as French, German Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Portuguese with the support of the respective embassies in Sri Lanka. The teaching process was so effective that the Embassy of France donated a language laboratory to be used in the teaching process. Hence the department of Modern Languages became the centre for learning foreign languages. The embassy of Japan donated a fully equipped language laboratory which has been of immense benefit to the students of the department.  In 1995, the Department of Hindi was established with Professor Indra Dasanayake as the head of the department.

Presently the Department of Modern Languages offers degree programmes in six languages including Japanese. In addition, Spanish is being taught as a certificate course.

Since the number of students studying foreign languages increased drastically, courses which were implemented as certificate courses had to be developed into general and special degree programs. These included the special degree course in German and French and the general degree courses in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Russian. The programmes of study in the department are not confined to the students of the Faculty of Humanities.  With its certificate courses in foreign language learning being offered to students from other faculties, the growth and the significance of the Department of Modern Languages is unquestioned.

The University of Kelaniya is the centre of excellence for language studies in the country, with the graduates of this department occupying prestigious positions both in Sri Lanka and abroad.

The following are the names of the Heads of the Department of Modern Languages.

  1. Prof. Samson Weerathunga                                 1974-1980
  2. Dr. Indra Dasanayake                                         1980-1985 ,1987-1989
  3. Senior Lecturer Ravilal Wimaladharma                  1986
  4. Prof. Sarath Amunugama                                    1990-2001
  5. Dr. Neelakshi Premawardhane                             2002-2007
  6. Prof. Hemantha Sirisena                                      2008-2013
  7. Ven. Dr. Meemure Gunananda                             2014-2017
  8. Dr. Dilrukshi Rathnayaka                                     2017-