Exercise in Cultural & Linguistic Concepts
Learning a foreign language provides an exercise in cultural and linguistic concepts that open up new vistas on what it can mean to be human. Foreign language courses allow entry into the subjectivity of the target language on its own cultural and linguistic grounds, allowing for a more profound redefinition of culture.
Our basic courses offer the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for the eventual mastery of a foreign language. Students can then use the target language in subsequent courses dealing with the foreign culture. For the most part, courses are conducted in the foreign language, as students can best appreciate a foreign culture from within its own mode of expression.
Off-campus study acts as a catalyst in a Denison education. Its purposeful combination of classroom and experiential learning provides students an opportunity to hone the analytical literacy and capacity for informed judgment and constructive social engagement that are the core values of a liberal arts education. Off-campus study also engenders independence and self-confidence. As students are encouraged to reflect on their experiences they develop strategies for effective communication and thoughtful moral/ethical decision-making in contexts of socio-cultural plurality. 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.
Language tutors are available through Denison’s Academic Resource Center at no charge to students. Student Teaching Assistants also work with students in language classes on a regular basis to help ensure success.
What do modern languages majors do after Denison?
A major in a language provides students with a range of skills that serve them well in many career fields. Language majors have continued on to law and business schools. Some students continue on to do graduate work in their language or related fields. Other students have moved directly into the job market, seeking careers in fields such as advertising, investment banking, publishing and sales.
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 that opportunity, they can use the target language in subsequent courses dealing with the culture. The Department emphasizes the use of the target language in most of its courses because it believes that students can best appreciate a culture from within its own mode of expression.