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Modern Languages

The Study of Foreign Language

The Department of Modern Languages offers major and minor programs in French, German and Spanish, as well as introductory level courses in Chinese and Italian. Language instruction stresses the development of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing the target language. Offerings include courses in culture, literature and language for special purposes. Besides meeting the needs of majoring and minoring students, the department offers many lower-level courses to support the university's Core curriculum. These courses, as well as most others offered by the department, include frequent oral examinations to encourage students to develop listening and speaking skills.

The department offers a wide array of extracurricular activities to complement course offerings: weekly language tables; active language clubs that sponsor film series, trips to museums, theaters and other off-campus events; and important outreach projects to regional Pennsylvania German and Spanish-speaking communities.

To prepare students for challenging future careers, the department encourages all majoring students to declare complementary minors or double majors in other academic areas. The department's major programs place great emphasis on language proficiency, which is assessed by instruments such as video portfolios that record students' progress from the time they enter their respective language programs through their final comprehensive exam, and flexibility in upper-level course selection. This flexibility allows the required semester of study abroad, together with course requirements in other major and minor departments, to combine readily with the language major.

Teacher Certification. Students preparing for certification to teach French, German or Spanish in public schools must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA in the major. Additional Department of Education requirements and procedures for certification listed in the Education section.

Departmental Honors. The departmental honors option recognizes outstanding work in a modern language. To graduate with honors, majors:

  • request admission to the program at the end of their junior year,
  • maintain a GPA of 3.5 in the department and 3.3 overall,
  • select and develop detailed statements of a project in consultation with advisors,
  • complete and present an honors project during a four-semester hour independent study,
  • successfully pass an oral examination on the honors project.
Work below required standards for departmental honors may be applied to the regular major.

Applied Second Language (ASL) Option. The ASL option has been developed for students interested in using language skills across the curriculum and receiving credit for their efforts. In the schedule of classes which is published each semester, certain courses are designated as offering the ASL option. Faculty in these courses will extend to students the opportunity to earn one additional hour of credit by completing assignments in a language other than English. Typical assignments might include readings in journal or newspaper articles, book-length studies, essays, poetry, or works of fiction, followed by oral and/or written summaries. A student who would like to pursue the ASL option register for the course with the instructor's permission. Upon successful completion of the course, the student will receive one semester hour of interdisciplinary Applied Second Language study graded on an S/U basis.

Placement. Scores received on pre-enrollment language proficiency examinations and nationally recognized achievement tests help determine placement level or exemption without credit from the university's Core language requirement. Students who receive 4 or better on the National Advanced Placement examination are granted credit in recognition of their accomplishment.

The Department of Modern Languages encourages students who exempt the Foreign Language Core requirement to continue their language study by enrolling in a course at the 200-level or above. Upon successful completion of 201 with a grade of B- or above, such students will earn a total of eight semester hours of credit: four semester hours for the upper-level course and four semester hours of (ungraded) Advanced Study Credit in recognition of their advanced achievement. This option is not available to students who transfer in the equivalent of 101-102 or 103-104 language coursework from another college.



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