About Modern Languages and Literatures
The Modern Languages and Literatures Department views the study of foreign languages and literatures, coupled with academic study and travel abroad, as playing an important role in creating an informed citizenry with a deep love of languages, and a respect for other cultures.
The Department also seeks to enrich the University curriculum through rigorous classroom teaching and research in modern languages, cultures, and literatures.
The study of modern languages (Chinese, French, German, Spanish) is integrated into a comprehensive liberal arts curriculum at Southwestern. Students who choose this major or minor acquire a broad, cross-disciplinary foundation that prepares them for a range of professional and personal endeavors.
The capstone experience in the department—an integrative project in which students undertake significant writing and research in their target language—reinforces these goals in relation to the knowledge, insights and perspectives gained in their undergraduate years. Together with advanced courses, the capstone provides a solid grounding to prepare students for graduate work, as well as for sophisticated, original projects in a diverse array of fields.
Students planning to do graduate work in languages are advised to have a strong background in analysis and interpretation of literature. Those planning to certify as language teachers must have a thorough background in the structure of the target language.
Students taking language to fulfill the language requirement for their degrees are expected to attain proficiency in oral and written expression, listening comprehension and reading. These goals are usually attained at the end of a fourth semester Southwestern course, which is why students remain in the same language through the intermediate level. Students may take a proficiency test at the level required for their degree program or complete the specified semester requirement with a passing grade.