Information presented from the 2023 - 2024 Academic Catalog.

Modern Languages Mission Statement

Educated people spend their lives pursuing growth 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 another language contributes to our education by intimately exploring cultural and linguistic concepts that broaden our understanding of what it means to be human in today's world.

Our basic courses offer the opportunity to begin acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary for the eventual mastery of a language. When students take full advantage of this opportunity, they can use the target language in all subsequent courses. The department emphasizes the use of the target language in most of its courses because it believes that students can best appreciate another culture from within its own mode of expression.

With a view toward career opportunities, the department encourages integrating language study with a variety of other academic areas, such as history, philosophy, international studies, environmental studies, biology, economics, politics and public affaire, global commerce, global health, 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 who wants to spend a summer, a semester, or a year abroad with programs approved by Denison should consult members of the department and the Center for Global Programs (see Off-Campus Programs). On-campus opportunities to improve command of the language are provided by language tables, international films, club meetings, and similar activities sponsored by the department. There are also subsidized field trips to museums and pertinent activities in cities across the country, and in some cases international travel.

Additional Points of Interest

General Departmental Regulations

Students who want to fulfill the basic requirement in language by continuing 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 Blu-ray player and document camera. It also has a VIA Connect PRO that is a wireless collaboration and presentation solution that makes sharing and presenting easier for all computers in the room. 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 of authenticated 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 language study. 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 department maintains a Modern Languages Facebook page where the Denison community can find information about upcoming events.

The Foresman Lounge

Located in the central hub of the department, the lounge provides the Denison community with a space for a wide range of activities such as receptions, classes, and informal gatherings. This area has a kitchenette with a table and chairs for sharing lunch or a coffee with our faculty as well as mobile soft seating for easy reconfiguration of the space. It is also equipped with a wide range of technological devices to enrich our students’ learning experiences. This room has a 52-inch flat screen TV connected to a webcam, zone-free Blu-ray player and a document camera. The lounge also has a ceiling-mounted laser projector that connects to a networked Mac computer, the Blu-ray player and a via for wireless connection to the data projector.

Although the Department of Modern Languages offers majors in French, German and Spanish, it also offers courses in other languages for the purpose of general education and support of other college programs. Courses in Japanese are listed below.