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Foreign Languages and Literatures

The department offers majors and minors in French, German, and Spanish, a minor in Italian, and a minor in Japanese. The French and Spanish programs offer honors in the major. All courses are taught in the target language unless otherwise indicated in the course description.

Majoring in a foreign language means studying the language, literature, and culture of the countries concerned. Knowledge of a foreign language deepens understanding of one's own culture and language and contributes toward a greater appreciation of other cultures.

The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures' goals and objectives for our students are:

  1. Development of professional and marketable mastery of communicative skills in one or more foreign languages other than English;
  2. Appropriation of linguistic skills, transferable selectively to a wide range of practical options, including--but not limited to--mass media, higher education, travel/leisure enterprises, the performing arts, teaching, diplomacy, law enforcement, military intelligence, the space program, business/marketing, international banking, politics, the Peace Corps, etc.;
  3. Acquisition of knowledge and sensitivity about one or more literary and cultural heritages/traditions other than those of English-speaking countries;
  4. Internalization of the principle of diversity as one of the cornerstones of personal, national, and international relationships, and promotion of its inherent values in the world at large;
  5. Achievement of a high degree of information literacy by accessing national and international sources, and judicious evaluation of the same for form, value, and content.

The department's Multimedia Language Learning Center allows faculty and students to use technology to further the acquisition of world languages and cultural awareness. The applications of this technology enhance the department's capability to fulfill its mission in teaching and learning.

Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Portuguese, and Russian are offered through the intermediate level depending on student demand. Greek and Latin may also be offered.

International Programs

Students have an opportunity to study for a year through the California State University International Programs. California State University International Program opportunties pertaining to languages taught in the department are in Canada (Quebec), Chile, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and Taiwan. Students also have the option of studying abroad for a semester, year, or summer through the University Studies Abroad Consortium. Both these sponsoring organizations of study abroad have scholarships for interested students. See the University's study abroad advisor for more information. Approval of course equivalencies from study abroad programs must be authorized by the department prior to studying abroad.

Career Outlook

A degree in a foreign language increases employment prospects with employers such as the government, multinational corporations, airlines, shipping companies, wineries, travel agencies, hospitals, education, technology, and music. Foreign language competency is necessary in different international programs (international relations, international business) and area studies programs (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and Pacific Basin).

In California and many other states, Spanish is a useful adjunct in the fields of social welfare, medicine, elementary and secondary teaching, and other areas of public service.

For students planning to attend graduate school, the knowledge of a foreign language is an important research tool and is a requirement in most disciplines.


Scholarship opportunities are the following: The Outstanding Japanese Student Award was established in 2007 and is awarded yearly. The Bix Whitcomb Study Abroad Award goes to an honors student in English or Spanish for study abroad. The Bix Whitcomb Phi Sigma Iota Study Abroad Award goes to a minor or major in the department who is a member of the Phi Sigma Iota Foreign Language Honorary Society. The Maria Haynes Scholarship is for a student of Italian. The Melitta T. Singer Scholarship is available for a minor or major in German. There is also an exchange program with the University of Mainz in Germany which provides a scholarship for one student of German each year to study at the University of Mainz.

Catalog Cycle:11