College of Liberal Arts
Department of Foreign Languages and Literature
The ability to communicate in a foreign language and to demonstrate a substantial understanding of a foreign culture and its literature has ever been the mark of an educated person and is at the heart of higher education. Therefore, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures has as its mission the development of linguistic, cultural and literary proficiencies that help students gain an appreciation of social pluralism and cultural diversity. Our programs provide students with the means to participate directly in foreign cultures and to compare and contrast them with insight and sensitivity. More specifically, the department’s core offerings and major course programs in French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Spanish and classical studies provide students with access to bodies of knowledge that are unavailable to monolingual individuals, thereby positioning them for the increasingly global world in which we live. Consequently, the department fulfills the university's liberal arts mission to educate by providing students with the necessary communicative skills that enable them as globally educated citizens “to understand and to challenge or embrace the cultural forces operating on them” while at the same time “compassionately engaging with the world.”
The goals of the department’s programs are at once practical and cultural. In learning to communicate, students develop the skills to understand and interpret both written and spoken language. Moreover, they learn to write and speak in the foreign language about historical, literary and cultural topics of interest to the native speakers of the foreign language as well as the student. These practical skills permit students to work at jobs in non-English-speaking countries and to work with people in this country who do not speak English. Students improve their creative and analytic skills, strengthen their memory, increase their ability to speak and write in their native language, and generally cultivate their intellects, making them more apt for the apprehension of truth, the overall goal of a college education.
At the same time students come to understand through their study how foreign languages are inextricably connected to particular civilizations and societies. They learn that communicating in a foreign language means becoming literate in another culture rather than merely learning to decipher a code. Achieving these goals enables students to gain an awareness of and sensitivity to ways of thought and expression not native to them. They become aware of how foreign language is linked to every aspect of culture. They come to understand the social structure, politics, psychology, literature, history, world view, art and religion of other societies. They learn how to live happily as residents of foreign societies and to appreciate foreign travel. As students come to understand cultures that express themselves in other languages, they attain a more complete and accurate understanding of our own society’s religion, art, history and literature, and of its strengths.
As an important complement to its campus programs, the department encourages its students to study abroad. To facilitate such educational experiences, the department regularly offers summer study abroad programs in San José, Costa Rica; Tours, France; and Seville, Spain. In each of these programs, study-abroad participants live with host families, attend courses at well-established language institutes, and take courses offered by a Mount foreign language professor. Such arrangements provide students with the atmosphere that is needed to practice their foreign language skills, gain valuable cultural insights, and make lasting personal relationships.
In addition, Mount St. Mary’s sponsors a series of semester-long foreign study. These programs, organized through the Mount’s affiliation with the American Institute for Foreign Study and taught by Mount St. Mary's University faculty, focus on providing students with an interdisciplinary understanding of the country visited. The Florence program, in particular, provides students of Italian with the opportunity to develop their Italian language skills begun at the Mount.
Because language study disciplines the mind, provides appreciation of pluralism and intercultural communication, and is useful for functioning in a global age, Mount students take two (2) three-credit courses of foreign language, either broadening mastery of a language already studied in high school or beginning a new language. If continuing a language, students will be placed at the appropriate level based on a placement exam and the number of years of language study.
Students who have studied three or more years of a language at high school are expected to begin study of that language at the 201 level or higher. Ordinarily, students complete the foreign language Veritas core sequence within 48 credits of attempted Mount credit. A student’s ability in the foreign language is first assessed through a placement test taken prior to freshman summer orientation. The test results determine whether students are placed in the 101-102; 201-202; or 300/400 level Veritas core sequence for foreign language. Students who elect to study a foreign language new to them will be exempt from the placement exam and will start at the 101 level. Students may receive foreign language credit for 201 with a score of 3 or better on an advanced placement foreign language exam taken prior to matriculation or by an appropriate score on a CLEP test taken no later than the end of the sophomore year.
All students are strongly encouraged to elect foreign language study beyond the two-semester Veritas core sequence given the increasing national and global need for persons who are proficient in languages. In order to assist students in working toward minoring or majoring in a language of their choice, the university awards students credit for prior learning based on the placement results.
Students who place at the intermediate (201-202) or advanced (300) level of language study on entering Mount St. Mary’s and who elect to continue study of a language beyond the core requirement will receive credit for their prior learning.
Students may receive credits for prior learning for each language in which they place at the intermediate or advanced level. Students must take these courses within 48 credits of attempted Mount credit. Such credit will be awarded as follows:
A student who places at the intermediate level and who earns a C or better in a 200-level foreign language course taken at Mount St. Mary’s will receive six credits (three for the course and three for prior learning).
A student who places at the advanced level and who earns a C or better in a 300- or 400-level foreign language course taken at Mount St. Mary’s will receive nine credits (three for the course and six for prior learning).
Students may receive such credit only if they place at the intermediate level or above at matriculation, and they may receive such credit only once for each language—following the first intermediate or the first advanced foreign language course taken at Mount St. Mary’s. Students who withdraw from their first intermediate or first advanced course in a particular language forfeit the possibility in the future of earning credits for prior learning in that language. Students may not receive credit for prior learning if they have received foreign language credit via the Advanced Placement exam or a course not taken at Mount St. Mary’s. Students receiving credit for prior foreign language learning will not be assessed an additional tuition charge.
Mount St. Mary’s requires that students whose native language is other than English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and score no less than 550 on the exam in order to be admitted to the college. Students who need help in English after enrolling at Mount St. Mary’s should meet with the director of learning services.
The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures plays a primary role in both the major and minor in international studies, each of which has an advanced foreign language requirement. (These programs are described in detail elsewhere in this catalog—see the Department of Political Science.) Students majoring in international studies find a major or minor in a foreign language to be a natural complement to their chosen area of study.
The department offers a Secondary Teacher Certification program in French, German, Latin and Spanish. Students complete the requirements in their chosen language major and the designated education courses. This program is subject to the approval of the Maryland State Department of Education.