Career Guide to JMU Majors:
Modern Foreign Languages
Admission and Progression Standards:
Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.
Description of MajorThe Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures offers a major and minor in Modern Foreign Languages with four year instruction in the following languages: Arabic, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. In addition, the department provides offers minors in Chinese and Russian and two-year instruction in Latin, Korean, Swahili, Japanese, Portuguese, Ancient Greek, and Persian. Through the department’s course offerings, study abroad programs, organizations and clubs, and the presence of faculty with research areas in diverse foreign cultures, the department embodies cultural diversity, particularly international diversity. The programs in the Foreign Language, Literatures, and Cultures Department are designed for the following purposes: to teach the student to understand and speak a language with facility; develop skills in reading and writing; to provide an acquaintance with foreign literatures; develop an appreciation of foreign cultures; and to prepare students for the teaching profession, government work, international trade and research leading to advanced degrees. Minors are also offered in the concentrations mentioned above. Interdisciplinary minors offered include: Classical Studies, Russian Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Asian Studies, Africana Studies, and World Literature. The following Professional minors are offered: the Law Enforcement Spanish Minor, Medical Spanish Minor, Legal Spanish Minor, Business Spanish Minor, Business French Minor, Business German Minor, Business Italian Minor, and Translation / Interpretation Minor.
Tell me more about this field of study
There is more to learning languages than simply learning the language. Language acquisition teaches one to learn how to think, analyze, communicate, and increase one’s own cultural enrichment. The study of foreign cultures also helps people to understand who they are and where they are coming from and gain a better understanding of their own culture. The foreign language experience will develop the kind of global awareness, sophistication and flexibility of cultural response that Americans will need if they are to retain their competitive edge in the world markets of the 21st century.
Tell me more about specializationSpecializations in this field tend to be in the particular language and culture chosen to focus one’s interests within a particular career area, such as government, education, business or non profit. The foreign language specialist engages in translating, interpreting, or teaching in one or more foreign languages. The specialist ordinarily possesses and uses knowledge of the literature, culture, and historical development of the country in which the language is used. In addition to pursuing a job in which the primary focus is the use of another language, many opportunities exist for the use of additional language skills in other career areas. Medicine, health services, law, business, libraries, museums, social service, and public service illustrate some of the professions in which competency in one or more additional languages opens up specialized career opportunities.
Common majors or minors that complement this major
Some common combinations are: Anthropology (Cultural), Africana Studies, Art History, Asian Studies, Classical Studies, Communication Studies (Organizational Communication or Public Relations),Criminal Justice, Economics, English, English as a Second Language, Human Resource Development, Health Sciences, Hospitality and Tourism Management, Human Science, International Affairs, International Business, International Humanities, Justice Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Management, Middle Eastern Communities and Migrations, Philosophy and Religion, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy and Administration, Russian Studies, Secondary Education, Social Work, Technical and Scientific Communication, World Literature, Women's Studies, or Writing and Rhetoric.
Naturally, success in our program comes more easily to those students with a keen interest in learning another language and learning about another culture.
Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.
Who employs graduates?
Airports / Airlines, Colleges / Universities, Convention Centers, Courts, Cruise Lines, Customs Services - Gov, Department of State – Gov, Film Companies, Financial Institutions, Immigration and Naturalization Service – Gov, Import / Export Companies, Intelligences Agencies - Gov, International Services Organizations, Foreign News Agencies, Museums, Overseas Aid Agencies, Public / Private Schools, Public Relations Firms, Publishers, Radio Stations, Religious Service Organizations, Resorts, Travel Agencies, TV Networks, Tour and Excursion Companies, Tourism Agencies, and “Voice of America”.
There is no formal internship or practicum program offered through the Department of Foreign Language, Literatures, and Cultures. However, there are several informal ways to gain experience and/or exposure to this field. JMU sponsors the Studies Abroad Program, which allows eligible students to study a semester abroad in Italy or Spain. You will find a number of foreign language clubs on campus (Cercle Francophone, Deutschverein, Hispanic Studies Club, Italian Cultural Society, Russian Club), designed to take the experience of foreign cultures out of the classroom and into your life. Spanish students of Professional Minors gain experience through practicum in various local offices, clinics and the hospital.
What are JMU graduates doing with this major?
About Court Interpreting
A Day in the Life of a Diplomat
Careers in Foreign Language
Career Opportunities for Modern Foreign Languages
Interpreters and Translators
A broad range of resources on career fields, internships, and job search information is also available in the Career & Academic Planning Resource Center.
Make an appointment with a CAP career counselor to learn more about this major and your career options.
A few titles from our Resource Center related to this field include:
© Career & Academic Planning, James Madison University, 2013