Academic Programs

Academic Units: Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

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Mission Statement
The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures is a central site on campus for the implementation of James Madison University internationalization efforts. Through its 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, at JMU. The strong presence of international students and faculty on campus is a critical indicator of this recognition of international diversity.

The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures offers students and the community a broad range of educational courses and programs that help develop foreign language competence, a global perspective, and an understanding of foreign cultures both ancient and modern.

The department’s mission is to ensure that all graduates with a B.A. have sufficient knowledge of a modern foreign language to build fluency in that language when future personal or professional needs require it; prepare language majors for success as professionals in language-related career fields; enhance the education of non-language majors by providing them foreign language skills that complement their chosen major; teach understanding and appreciation of foreign cultures and provide basic knowledge about the literature, culture, and intellectual achievements of countries other than the U.S.; play a leading role in internationalizing the college curriculum; provide opportunities for language and cultural study abroad; support cross-listed courses for the departments of English and history as part of their major requirements, and the General Education program with courses for the Cluster Two requirements. The department also plays an important role in the university interdisciplinary minors by offering courses for Russian studies, Latin American studies, world literature and classical studies.

  Goals and Objectives
The department strives to fulfill that mission by pursuing the following goals. Within each area, students should:
  Knowledge
  • Be familiar with a variety of linguistic principles in both the target language and their own.
  • Understand the major literary movements of the target culture and be familiar with selected major literary texts of the target culture.
  • Be familiar with the great ideas of humanity and of Western civilization in particular, especially as they have originated in or influenced the target culture.
  • Understand the institutions and history of the target culture.
  • Understand similarities and differences between the target culture and their own.
  Skills
  • Demonstrate reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in both English and the target language.
  • Think critically, analytically and objectively.
  • Make and formulate informed aesthetic and linguistic judgments.
  • Research a topic thoroughly using both traditional and online sources.
  • Use computers effectively for a variety of purposes, from word processors and spell checkers in the target language to terminological data bases and machine-aided translation tools.
  Experiences
  • Ponder what it means to be human in response to literary and cultural studies.
  • Engage great texts and great ideas.
  • Realize what it is like to be a foreigner with incomplete cultural and linguistic competence.
  • See the world through the filter of another language and culture.
  • Realize that every language is an imperfect vehicle, riddled with traps and ambiguities.
  Attitudes
  • Embrace life-long learning.
  • Approach issues from interdisciplinary, global and historical perspectives.
  • Respect diversity among cultures and within any given culture.
  • Respect the opinions and beliefs of other people – and other peoples – while defining and advancing their own.
  • Recognize the contingent nature of knowledge.
Back to top of page Program
The department offerings address a wide spectrum of student needs. Our program seeks to:
  • Offer a minor and a major in a specific language.
  • Strongly recommend a second major and/or minor in another discipline.
  • Offer advanced courses for interdisciplinary programs.
  • Offer basic courses required for Bachelor of Arts candidates.
  • Organize and participate in Honors courses.
  • Provide General Education courses in Cluster Two and reinforce Cluster One goals in all courses.
  Faculty
The faculty members of the department strive to:
  • Meet the ever-evolving needs of the students.
  • Develop innovative teaching techniques, courses and programs while preserving a traditional core.
  • Engage consistently in scholarship.
  • Provide dutiful service to the college, the university and the profession.
  • Be a role model for students as educators and as human beings.
All language majors are expected to meet certain objectives.
  General
  • To have a knowledge of critical thinking methods and to be able to apply these.
  • To have had an introduction to computers that includes word processing as well as working with software devoted to grammar exercises, vocabulary development, literature and culture.
  • Respect diversity among cultures and within any given culture.
  • To have developed an appreciation and affective feel for other cultures, not just an intellectual perspective.
  Specific
The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures offers programs designed to:
  • Teach students to understand and speak a language with facility.
  • Develop skills in reading and writing.
  • Provide an acquaintance with foreign literatures.
  • Develop an appreciation of foreign cultures.
  • Prepare students for professions in education, government work, international trade or for research leading to advanced degrees.
Back to top of page Career Opportunities
  • Banking
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Foreign Service
  • Import/Export
  • Law
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Medicine
  • Ministry
  • Museum work
  • Public Relations
  • Social work
  • Translation
Back to top of page Co-curricular Activities and Organizations
The department supports the following organizations:
  • Le Cercle Francophone
  • Dobro Slovo
  • German Club
  • Il Circolo Culturale Italiano
  • Phi Sigma Iota
  • Russian Club
  • El Club de Espanol
  • Sigma Delta Pi
Back to top of page Degree and Major Requirements
  Bachelor of Arts in Modern Foreign Languages
A student can earn both a B.A. in Modern Foreign Languages and a minor in a specific language. Currently the department provides four years of instruction in French, German, Italian and Spanish, plus three years in Chinese, and two years in Arabic, Japanese and Russian.

The minimum requirement for a major in languages is 33 upper-division credit hours in a specific language. However, students pursuing a second major in an unrelated field or whose choice of language makes it impossible to meet that requirement may seek substitutions and/or waivers from the department head.

Degree Requirements
Required Courses
Credit Hours
General Education1
41
Foreign Language classes (intermediate level
required)2
0-14
Philosophy course (in addition to General Education courses)
3
University electives
17-31
Additional language or cognate requirement3
12
Major requirements (listed below)
33

120
1 The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.
2 The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level of the student’s chosen language (typically 232) or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Languages’ placement test.
3 Not required of double majors or education minors.
Major Requirements
All language sections share certain core requirements.
Courses
Credit Hours
2 Language courses (300 and 320)1
6
2 Civilization courses (307and 308)
6
Literature courses in the target language
6-12
Other courses as specified by the section2 (see lists for each language below)
9-15

24
1 These courses fulfill the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.
2 The courses required for Spanish majors are different, as shown in the Spanish listing.
 
French
Credit Hours
FR 300. French Grammar and Communication1
3
FR 307. A History of French Civilization
3
FR 308. Contemporary French Civilization
3
FR 320. French Oral and Written Communication
3
FR 335. Introduction to Literature
3
3 300- or 400-level FR literature courses
9
3 other 300- or 400-level FR courses
9

33
1 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.
 
German
Credit Hours
GER 300. German Grammar and Communication1
3
GER 307. A History of German Civilization
3
GER 308. Contemporary German Civilization
3
GER 320. German Oral and Written Communication
3
GER 341. German-English Technical/Commercial Translation
3
2 400-level GER literature courses
6
4 more courses (see following list)
12
Group 1:
GER 308. Contemporary German Civilization (second time)
GER 330. Business German
Any 400-level GER literature courses
GER 341. German-English Technical/Commercial Translation (second time)
Group 2 (no more than one):
ENG/GER 436. Studies in German Literature
GHUM 200. (German works in translation)
HIST 388. Germany Since 1871

33
1 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.
 
Italian
Credit Hours
ITAL 300. Italian Grammar and Communication1
3
ITAL 307. A History of Italian Civilization
3
ITAL 308. Contemporary Italian Civilization
3
ITAL 320. Italian Oral and Written Communication
3
ITAL 351. Italian-English Technical/Commercial Translation
3
3 300- or 400-level ITAL literature courses
9
3 other 300- or 400-level ITAL courses
9

33
1 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.
 
Russian (not available in 2006-2007)
 
Spanish
Credit Hours
SPAN 300. Grammar and Communication1
3
SPAN 307. Spanish Civilization
3
SPAN 308. Latin American Civilization
3
SPAN 320. Oral and Written Communication
3
SPAN 335. Introduction to Spanish Literature
3
3 SPAN literature courses
9
3 other 300- or 400-level SPAN courses
9

33
1 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.
Additional Language or Cognate Requirement
Students majoring in modern foreign languages must complete the intermediate level of a second language or take at least 12 additional credit hours in other departments (e.g., art, English, geography, history, philosophy, political science) in courses fully or partly related to their foreign language studies unless they are:
  • taking a double major
  • taking an education minor
The 12 credit hours cannot be counted toward fulfillment of any other degree requirement, including General Education. Prior approval of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures is required for each of these collateral courses.
Back to top of page Teaching Licensure
In conjunction with the College of Education, the department offers programs leading to the teaching license in French, German, Italian and Spanish. The Collegiate Professional Teaching License in a modern foreign language requires 36 credits in language study.

In addition to the general education and academic major requirements, foreign language majors desiring secondary teacher licensure must complete the undergraduate education minor and the Master of Arts in Teaching degree offered in Education Programs. For a full description of the programs in education, refer to the College of Education.

Back to top of page Minor Requirements
Modern Foreign Language Minor
A minor in a modern foreign language consists of 15 upper-division credit hours in a specific language and must include a literature course. French minors are required to take FR 320.
French
Credit Hours
FR 300. French Grammar and Communication
3
FR 320. French Oral and Written Communication
3
FR 335. Introduction to Literature1
3
2 300- or 400-level FR courses
6

15
1 Other French literature course with permission of the department head.
 
German
Credit Hours
GER 300. German Grammar and Communication
3
1 400-level GER literature courses
3
3 other 300- or 400-level GER courses1
9

15
1 Highly recommended: GER 308, GER 320 and GER/TR 341.
 
Italian
Credit Hours
ITAL 300. Italian Grammar and Communication
3
1 300- or 400-level ITAL literature course
3
3 other 300- or 400-level ITAL courses
9

15
 
Spanish
Credit Hours
SPAN 300. Grammar and Communication
3
SPAN 335. Introduction to Spanish Literature
3
3 other 300- or 400-level SPAN courses
9

15
Back to top of page International Education and Studies Abroad
The department strongly supports – and greatly benefits from – the university’s excellent Studies Abroad programs. Majors are strongly encouraged to spend a significant amount of time abroad. Students are urged to check with their language advisers to see which courses taken abroad count toward the language major.
Back to top of page Placement Tests
Placement tests are given to students who have studied one language for two or more years in high school and who have not taken the College Board Advanced Placement Test or SAT II. Final decision on Advanced Placement rests with the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Placement tests are given for French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. There is no placement test for Latin.

Students who have taken one year or less of a language in high school or who want to start a new language may enroll in level 101 of that language for credit. Student who have taken two or more years of a language in high school (10th, 11th or 12th grade) are not permitted to enroll in levels 101, 102 or 111 of that language for credit.

Students with two or more years of a foreign language in high school must take the department placement exam. This exam is given in Keezell 103 during the posted hours. Tests for French, German and Spanish are available online at http://www.jmu.edu/forlang/flpe.htm. Tests for Italian and Russian must be taken in Keezell 103.

Students that place into the 300 level of a language must enroll at that level. Students that place into the 109 level for Spanish or French only, must obtain a permission number from the main office in Keezell 301 in order to register.