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The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures offers Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish at various levels, enabling students to strengthen their command of a language they have already studied or to begin study of a new language. In these courses, students learn to speak and understand as well as to read and write with increasing facility and accuracy. As students become familiar with a particular language and its literature and culture, they develop a knowledge of the intellectual and social history of the people who speak that language. Moreover, the knowledge and experience gained in the critical reading of foreign literature broadens students' perspectives and provides a foundation for further study and travel.
Students may elect courses in modern languages and literatures as a part of a liberal education or choose a modern language major with a career objective in mind. The study of a modern language can be combined with diverse career areas, for example, in social sciences, in science, in other fields within the humanities, or in professional fields. A major in French or Spanish, when combined with a major in the humanities, social sciences, communications, or management, prepares students for careers in many areas, such as government service, employment with publishers or international agencies, teaching, or graduate study.
Students may wish to study or work abroad in the future. To do so, they must achieve competence in all basic language skills. Likewise, if plans include further study in graduate school, they will need to acquire reading proficiency in one or more languages to fulfill the requirements of many graduate programs.
Upon arrival at Simmons, previous language study is evaluated, and placement in a course is determined based on previous experience and a placement test given by the Center for Academic Achievement at Simmons College.