Modern Languages and Literatures

The study of modern foreign languages, as well as cultures and literatures in their original languages, is an intellectual experience that offers students another point of view on life. Knowledge of a language other than English frees students from the restraints of seeing but one reality, and the new perspectives gained from understanding the expression of another people are the essence of a liberal education.

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures stresses proficiency in all language skills to prepare students for careers in business, communication, education, government, health sciences, social work, and related professions.

The department offers instruction in the following languages: Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Currently, majors and minors are available in French, German, Italian, and Spanish, and an individually-designed major is possible in Chinese.

In addition to its own programs, the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures participates in the International Studies program and the minor programs in Asian Studies, Italian Studies, Judaic Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies, Peace and Justice Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Selected language courses may count toward those programs. A limited number of courses taught in English may count toward specific majors and minors. Courses offered by other departments may count as well. Please consult the individual directors of the French, German, Italian and Spanish sections for a list of any relevant courses from outside the department not already listed in this section of the Catalog.

Modern Languages and Literatures courses requiring a prerequisite may allow students with suitable life or academic experience from other institutions to be admitted by permission of the instructor. Students who believe they have appropriate background experience may petition the professor for admission to desired courses.

Note: Education minors need a minimum of 30 credits in the language area, of which at least three credits must be in literature and three in culture/civilization.

Language Core Requirements

The core language requirements for the Class 2022 and earlier may be fulfilled by successfully completing two semesters at the intermediate level of any language listed among the offerings of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Students should see the specific requirements for the Dolan School of Business, Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies, and School of Engineering.

Starting with the Class of 2023, please refer to the Magis Core curriculum, which states that at least one semester of a foreign language must be taken at Fairfield University by all students, complemented by either a second language course in the same language or a second math course. Note that students must first complete a language placement exam, if applicable, in order to continue in the same language that was studied previously.

Core Mission Statement

The study of languages is a key element in working and learning across cultures and geographical boundaries. Language in the Core Curriculum focuses on the acquisition of the skills of reading, listening, speaking, and writing, though the emphasis varies according to the chosen language. Students in core language study acquire knowledge about other cultures, literatures, and historical periods. It is expected that students will use the skills and knowledge acquired in language courses in practical and intellectual pursuits.

Through their study of foreign languages, students will:

  • Be able to read a passage of moderate difficulty in their chosen language and be able to communicate with a native speaker.
  • Learn grammatical and syntactical rules which will facilitate oral and written expression in the language.
  • Become acquainted with the life, customs, and cultural traditions where the language is spoken.