Professor of World Languages, Cultures, and Media and Coordinator of Asian Studies Zhenjun Zhang recently collaborated with Professor Victor H. Mair of the University of Pennsylvania to publish a book that presents for the first time in English, 10 stories from China’s Ming Dynasty era.
In today’s world, you’ll enrich your job options if you have a working knowledge of one or more foreign languages and the rich cultures they represent. At St. Lawrence, students can study languages that are spoken on every continent: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Arabic, and Swahili. They can minor in most of them and major in the first two of those, or in our multi-language option, which allows focusing on three languages. All the languages offered in the Department of World Languages, Cultures and Media are key components of some of St. Lawrence’s nearly two dozen international study programs.
Laurentians who have studied a foreign language - or more than one - are well-positioned to excel in international business, diplomacy, development, and education.
Did you know that Spanish is the world’s third most spoken language with over 500 million speakers worldwide?
“Learning a second language helps to break the stereotype of Americans that we rely only on English and expect that everywhere we go we’ll be spoken to in our native language. I chose Spanish because I love the incredibly rich culture that comes with it and its global utility. It’s a language that reaches all over the world and in every part takes on a different personality. I know that Spanish has made my travel and study experiences more personal, culturally authentic, and overall fulfilling.” Morgan Hannah Pickett (‘11 )
While learning any foreign language has immense intellectual and cultural rewards, learning French has special benefits. The ties between France and the United States have deep historical roots. France was our young country’s first ally, and French social and political thought had an enormous influence on our country’s founding. Native speakers of English invariably find that learning French is one of the best ways to increase vocabulary, for French and English share deep linguistic roots, and French is the largest donor of foreign words and foreign expressions in English.
Requirements for the Multi-Language major:
- Four courses at the 103 level, and above, in one language designated as “the language of concentration.”
- Four courses per language in two other languages. (Students may not choose Swahili as one of the three languages for this major).
If the language is also part of a multi-language major, students are required to take two additional language classes for the minor to be completed.
Requirements for the Multi-Language major (World Cultures & Media track):
- Four courses at 103 level and above in the language of concentration
- Four courses in a secondary language
- Four courses in World Cultures & Media
Learning Arabic can benefit anyone majoring or minoring in International Relations, Political Science, Comparative Literature, Islamic Studies, Religion, History, Anthropology, Social Studies, African Studies, Women’s Studies, Linguistics, and many other fields. A Knowledge of Arabic is in great demand and has offered recent college graduates high-paying job opportunities. Also, numerous short and long-term scholarships in Arabic Studies are available through Federal agencies.
China has a long history of more than three thousand years. Knowledge of Chinese opens up one of the richest historical and cultural heritages in the world, and it brings you job opportunities as well. China is a huge market, and it is now the biggest exporter in the world. Trade between China and the US is becoming more and more important. Business opportunities in various fields call for people equipped with knowledge of Chinese language and culture. More than 1.3 billion people worldwide speak Chinese, and Chinese is taught in more than 100 countries. Currently, we offer elementary, intermediate, and advanced Chinese as well as courses on Chinese culture, literature, and film.
German is one of the most widely spoken languages in Europe and is helpful in a range of fields from business and economics to the natural sciences, environmental studies, art history, literature, philosophy, and media studies. Minors gain proficiency in the language while studying the history, culture, and politics of the German-speaking world through a range of courses in German Studies, Film Studies, Art History, and other disciplines.
The study of any second language helps us think in more nuanced ways and understand the world as well as ourselves through cultural patterns that are not our own. In general, knowing Italian facilitates inter-cultural communication in that it opens the door to other Latin-based languages and introduces us to the culture and perspectives of those who have inhabited that peninsula over the millennia. Students begin to understand this relationship between language and culture as they study Italian. Here is what some of them have to say about their personal experiences and about some of their future goals.
Swahili is a Bantu language that has its origins in the East Coast of Africa. It is linguistically related to languages like Pokomo, Ilwana, Digo and Giriama which are spoken in the Coastal region of Kenya. Swahili is the national language of Kenya and Tanzania. It is also spoken in East and Central Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Malawi and Mozambique in Africa. Currently, Swahili is spoken by 150 million in the world.
ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Program
There are numerous opportunities for students to engage in English language learning on campus. Students have the opportunity to improve academic and colloquial English, learn American and academic culture, improve reading and writing skills, and connect with other students from all backgrounds.
The Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) Program focuses on expanding opportunities for the study of less commonly taught languages at St. Lawrence University. Courses are taken for academic credit and are part of a student's regular course load. These courses do not count for any major or minor in the department of World Languages, Cultures & Media. The format is for a group of no more than about five students to meet two or three times a week with a local native speaker who serves as a tutor. Students also work with recorded and other study material on their own. For each language, a qualified outside examiner administers exams. These courses are for beginner and intermediate levels only.
For more information please contact Gisele El Khoury, Director of the LCTL Program.
World Languages, Cultures, and Media News
Faculty members put their knowledge into action so students and others are able to benefit from it. Recently, faculty published journal articles and book chapters, coordinated international conferences, and shared their career journeys as podcast guests.
The Peace Corps Prep Certificate Program, which began in fall 2021, recognized graduating students during a cording ceremony and welcomed 12 new students