Professor Xinda Lian, Chair
Professor Xinda Lian; Visiting Assistant Professor Rongbin Zheng; Academic Administrative Assistant Liz Barringer-Smith
Departmental Guidelines and Goals
Educated people spend their lives trying to grow in political, social and intellectual freedom. One kind of intellectual freedom requires us to break away from the notion that our native language is the most natural and apt means of expressing the full range of human experience. An education can start with the discovery that all words are purely conventional devices. They are nonetheless tools that stir emotions, articulate ideas, and establish relationships with others. Learning a foreign language contributes to our education by providing an intimate exercise in cultural and linguistic concepts that open up new vistas on what it can mean to be human. Furthermore, foreign-language courses allow entry into the subjectivity of the target language on its own cultural and linguistic grounds, thus making possible a different and more profound redefinition of culture.
Our basic courses offer the opportunity to start acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary for the eventual mastery of a foreign language. When students take full advantage of that opportunity, they can use the target language in subsequent courses dealing with the foreign culture. The Department emphasizes the use of a foreign language in most of its courses because it believes that students can best appreciate a foreign culture from within its own mode of expression.
With a view toward career opportunities, the Department encourages integrating foreign language study with a variety of other academic areas, such as history, philosophy, international studies, environmental studies, biology, economics, political science, and English. Courses in cultural studies and literature, aside from their intrinsic worth, also present multiple perspectives on other cultures and areas of intellectual experience.
A student wishing to spend a summer, a semester, or a year abroad with programs approved by Denison should consult members of the Department and the Office of Off-Campus Studies (see Off-Campus Programs). On-campus opportunities to improve their command of the language are provided by the Language and Culture Program, language tables, foreign films, club meetings, and similar activities sponsored by the Department. There are as well subsidized field trips to museums and pertinent activities in cities across the country, and in some cases foreign countries.
Additional Points of Interest
General Departmental Regulations Students wishing to fulfill the basic requirement in language by continuing the one begun in secondary school will find it advantageous to begin their course work in the first year. The Department of Modern Languages strongly recommends that students complete their language requirement by the end of their sophomore year.
The Language Lab An important asset of the department is the Language Lab with its 27 Macs, zone-free DVD player, multi-standard VCR and document camera. The lab provides support for learning activities outside and inside the classroom, ranging from grammar drills to research and collaborative writing projects, as well as discussions on authentic materials published on the Internet. The area is designed not only for individualized instruction but also for group work and small seminars that use a variety of digital materials for class discussion.
Cultural Enrichment Each semester the Department offers students exceptional opportunities for cultural enrichment in foreign languages. These opportunities include, for example, off-campus trips to target-culture plays, movies and performances, as well as campus visits by native scholars and performers. In that way, experiences in target cultures become more readily available to our students. These opportunities are made possible through a most generous endowment bestowed on the Department of Modern Languages by the Patty Foresman Fund.
The Foresman Lounge Located in the central hub of the department, it provides the Denison community with a space for a wide range of activities such as receptions, classes, and informal gatherings. This area has a small kitchenette with a table and chairs for sharing lunch or a coffee with our faculty. It is also equipped with a wide range of technological devices with which to enrich our students' learning experiences. This room has a 52-inch flat screen TV that is connected to a satellite dish, which provides us with SCOLA television services from around the world. The TV is also connected to a zone-free DVD player and a document camera. The lounge has a ceiling-mounted data projector, which connects to a networked Mac computer, the DVD player, and document camera.
The Language and Culture Program This exciting residential option gives students the opportunity to hone their language skills and to participate in special cultural events. Students who choose this residential option will live in a small community of their peers who share their enthusiasm for foreign languages and cultures. Special extracurricular activities and programming in the Language House support language acquisition and permit a closer relationship with professors and language assistants from the Department of Modern Languages.
Although the Department of Modern Languages offers majors in French, German and Spanish, other languages are also offered for the purpose of general education and support of other college programs. Courses in Chinese are listed below.