Tserenchunt Legden, senior lecturer for Mongolian in the Hamilton Lugar School Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS), recently received the prestigious Order of the Red Banner of Labour from the Mongolian government.
The award was presented on October 21 by O. Batbayar, Mongolian ambassador to the U.S., in a ceremony at the 2023 Mongolia Society Annual Meeting. The event was held in conjunction with the Central Eurasian Studies Society conference at the University of Pittsburgh.
Legden says, “I am honored to receive this award. I believe this award is given not only to me but also to Indiana University in recognition of its world-renowned Mongolian studies program.”
The Order of the Red Banner of Labour recognizes Legden’s decades-long career teaching the Mongolian language. Prior recognition for her professional excellence includes Indiana University’s Trustees Teaching Award (2021), the Order of the Polar Star of the Republic of Mongolia (2011), and the Excellence in Education National Award from Mongolia’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (2000).
Legden was born and raised in a nomad family in the Mongolian steppes, tending livestock during her school vacations. Her love of languages led her to complete an A.B. in Russian Language and Literature from the Irkutsk University of Education, Siberia, then an M.A. in Comparative Linguistics at the University of Humanities, Mongolia. For thirteen years, she taught at the Academy of Management, Mongolia, achieving the rank of senior lecturer.
She then spent eleven years as the director of Bridge International College in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, the first private college in Mongolia to teach Mongolian language and culture programs to foreigners. While there, Legden developed proficiency-oriented programs of Mongolian language for foreigners in collaboration with Sharon Luethy, an American English language specialist.
In 2004, Legden joined IU’s Department of Central Eurasian Studies as a visiting lecturer of Mongolian language. In 2007, she taught the first at IU summer intensive Mongolian course which has been taught annually since then. In 2014, she reached her current rank of senior lecturer.
While at IU, Legden has standardized the school’s Mongolian language program based on current advances and trends in foreign language teaching. In addition to teaching three or four courses each semester, she has been developing new Mongolian language textbooks and online courses. In addition to co-authoring a series of three Mongolian Language textbooks for non-native speakers, and an English-Mongolian/Mongolian-English mini-dictionary, she regularly presents at professional conferences and publishes in academic journals.
According to Legden’s colleague, Uranchimeg Tsultem, Edgar and Dorothy Fehnel Chair in International Studies, “We are all so rejoiced and happy for Tserenchunt…she is helping to keep alive the Mongolian Studies as a field in the U.S. and IU as the center of the field.”
Öner Özçelik, associate professor and chair of Central Eurasian Studies, said, “Tserenchunt has helped successfully train countless learners of the Mongolian language and is one of the leading names in Mongolian Studies in the US, having already been awarded numerous awards for her teaching and authored – or in the process of authoring – various groundbreaking works, including innovative textbooks for teaching Mongolian.”