Languages & Cultures

Department Chair: Ana Conboy (interim 2022-23)

Faculty: Ana Conboy, Limei Danzeisen, Kate Droske, Jeffrey DuBois, Sophia Geng, Kurt Hollender, Masami Limpert, Rachel, Mazzara, Krista Osmundson, Sarah Pruett, Jason Schlude

The study of another language is an adventure, an exploration into the workings of minds both like and unlike our own. As human minds mold language, so language also molds human minds. A language is therefore not only a means by which we represent our thoughts; it is also a medium that presents the world to us in a certain way. When we learn a new language, we learn to see differently; we acquire a new perspective from which to view both ourselves and the world. In the literature of another language we encounter a culture revealed, extended, and tested by its most critical and inventive thinkers, who use the language to explore their society's limitations and possibilities. Because the study of language liberates us from bondage to a single cultural perspective and allows us to converse with members of another culture, it has from the times of the ancient Romans been considered central to a liberal education.

Students of the classical languages, Greek and Latin, strive to gain an understanding of the ancient peoples whose hard thinking about the perplexities of the human condition, preserved in literature of astonishing richness and beauty, has provided the foundation of modern Western civilization. In these languages the emphasis falls primarily upon developing the students' reading ability.

Students of modern languages seek to understand an intricate contemporary culture and explore the literature and traditions that give it life. The major in French, German, and Spanish, accordingly, consists of a balanced program of languages, literature, and civilization, and should ideally include one or two semesters of study abroad. Study of Chinese and Japanese, integral to Asian Studies, encourages participation in the study abroad programs in China and Japan.

For students whose first languages are ones other than English, courses are available in English as a Second Language (ESL). The focus in these courses is on improving language proficiency in listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing, with special emphasis on the skills necessary for academic success in a university setting.

For information on the Spanish major, please see the Department of Hispanic Studies:

A major in a classical or modern language represents a verifiable skill within a broad liberal arts education, giving the student multiple options. A language major is multidimensional in nature and prepares students for teaching language, continued study in graduate school and for a wide variety of careers and professions, both in the United States and around the world. Moreover, the linguistic and cross-cultural competence associated with a language major is increasingly of interest to employers in business, service, and government fields.

The Languages and Cultures department provides the courses that fulfill the common curriculum requirement in language proficiency for all CSB/SJU students. In order to fulfill this goal, all students should:

  1. Know the basic grammatical structures of the target language.
  2. In the modern languages, achieve balanced development of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills.
  3. In the classical languages, develop reading and writing skills.
  4. Understand the relationship between language and culture.
  5. Acquire an inclusive perspective on the target culture(s), one which ranges from artistic accomplishments to details of everyday life.
  6. Demonstrate awareness of the intellectual discussion surrounding the learning of a world language above and beyond the language's practical usefulness.


The Department of Languages and Cultures conducts regular assessment of student learning in linguistic skills as well as in the literary and cultural components of the major. Methods of assessment include: language placement test for incoming students, regular review of skills in speaking, listening, reading, writing and cultural understanding according to proficiency guidelines, and a senior project written in the target language and presented in a public forum.

Basic Requirements for all Languages and Cultures Majors and Minors:

212 is a prerequisite for 300-level courses; for French and German, it also fulfills a common curriculum humanities requirement (HM).

At least half of the credits required for your major, excluding supporting courses, must be in CSB/SJU course work.

Students planning to major or minor in a language are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the colleges' study abroad options.

All majors present a senior capstone in a public forum. In consultation with a faculty advisor, students choose a project appropriate to their previous course of study and/or their individual goals (399 listing).

Chinese Courses

French Courses

English as a Second Language Courses

English for Bilingual Students Courses

German Courses

Japanese Courses

Classics Courses

Other Language Courses