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Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures Frequently Asked Questions

Degree Programs

 Why should I major or minor in a foreign language?

  • Knowing a second or third language increases your career possibilities and your employability.

  • Learning and speaking foreign languages exercise the brain and make you smarter.  

  • Studying other languages improves your understanding of the world – and yourself!


For more information and sources, please visit our web page, Why Study a Language?

 What majors do you offer?

We offer a Modern Foreign Language major with concentrations in Arabic, French, German, Italian, or Spanish.

 What are the pre-requisites for majoring in a foreign language at JMU?

Before starting a major, there are four preliminary language levels to cover:

  • Elementary I & II
  • Intermediate I & II

 Can students place out of these pre-requisites?

Yes. Students can fully or partially place out of the preliminary levels with the Foreign Language Placement Exam, SATII or AP.  Majors and minors who place high enough on the placement exam may be eligible to take credit by exam for the 300 course in their language.

 What are the required classes for the majors?

Each major has a core set of required courses, and choices of electives:


 Who do I contact with questions about majors and requirements?

You may contact the major advisors with questions about specific language majors:

Arabic: Dr. Aram Shahin 
French: Dr. Christiane Szeps 
German: Dr. Holly Yanacek 
Italian: Dr. Giuliana Fazzion 
Spanish: Dr. Jose Ignacio Barrio Olano 

 What minors do you offer?

Our department offers language minors in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.  For those students who would like a more focused language minor, we also offer professional minors in Business French, Business German, Business Italian, Business Spanish, Latinx Community Engagement, Medical Spanish, and Spanish-English Translation and Interpretation. 

Each minor requires 18 credits of upper-level courses.  You can find more information about the specific required courses by following the links on our main webpage.

General Questions

 What other foreign languages does JMU offer?

Besides our major and minor offerings, we have 2 years of Latin and Korean and 3 years of Japanese.  

 What resources do you have to help students improve their language skills?

We have three ways to help students improve their language skills. All currently are on Webex or Zoom.

  • Faculty in our department host language hours, when students can gather to practice their target language. 

  • We also have a varity of clubs and honor societies which allow students to come together, practice their target language, and share their love of the culture.

  • The Language Resource Center offers online peer tutoring to help students wil class-related language questions.

 What scholarships are available to language majors?

Every year the department gives an award to an outstanding student in French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.  Students are also incouraged to apply for other funding, such as the Boren Scholarship.  More information on these scholarships can be found at Scholarships and Financial Aid.

Studying Abroad

 I would like to study abroad. How can I do that?

The JMU Center for Global Engagement has a list of the JMU study abroad programs.

 Can I satisfy some of the required courses for the majors or minors on a program abroad?

Absolutely!  Upper-level (300- and 400- level courses) should count towards your major. For a major, you may take up to 5 courses (15 credits) abroad, and for a minor, you may take up to 3 courses (9 credits) abroad.

Before applying for a study abroad program, you should talk to your major advisor to ensure that you are taking courses that will support your academic progress.

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