World Languages and Cultures
The Department of World Languages and Cultures will help you prepare for your role in the world after college, whatever, and wherever, that might be. Our graduates pursue successful careers in diverse fields: (international) education, journalism, social services, business, (international) business, economics, government, law, (international) law, and applied and theoretical sciences.
Our courses prepare you to live and work in the global community of the 21st century. Our expert professors will give you powerful tools for communicating with people all around the world. But you will also experience language and culture firsthand. At Washington College, you can learn how to dance the flamenco, chat in French over coffee and croissants, make dumplings, and taste German Currywurst while learning about its history.
The Department of World Languages & Cultures offers four majors: French Studies, German Studies, Hispanic Studies, and International Literatures and Cultures. We also offer minors in French, German, and Hispanic Studies, and provide instruction in Chinese.
Our many study abroad opportunities, language-specific honor societies, awards, and other student opportunities provide students of World Languages and Cultures with plenty of chances to expand their learning outside the classroom.
As part of their distribution requirements for graduation, all Washington College students must complete one or two courses in a foreign language depending on their placement level.
All incoming and transfer students must take the language survey and, if applicable, a placement exam to determine their level.
More About the Language Requirement
The Department of World Languages and Cultures has three goals for all of its courses:
- To teach students to assemble and analyze information through an awareness of the power of language in its many contexts
- To provide linguistic training for students to write, speak, and communicate effectively in a foreign language
- To promote intercultural competence for students to perceive the connectedness and complexities of our world and to navigate effectively across diverse cultural lines
We stress a communicative approach to language learning. In our classes, you will learn the essential four skills of a living language: how to read, write, listen, and speak. You will also learn about culture and history through your language study. Depending on which courses you take, your language proficiency may vary, but all Washington College students will achieve at the minimum an intermediate low proficiency level (based on ACTFL guidelines) in all four skills.
All Washington College students are required to fulfill the Language Requirement. In order to ensure consistent treatment of all students, each student must take the language placement test (which can be found in WebAdvisor). If the student decides to continue with the language of the placement test at WAC, they must register for the course indicated by the test.
There are some special cases to consider:
1. Students can also fulfill the Language Requirement with transfer credit from other institutions after approval of the Associate Chair of World Languages and Cultures.
2. Students who speak, read and write a native language other than English have the option of waiving the requirement upon approval of the Associate Chair of World Languages and Cultures.
3. Native Speakers cannot register in HPS 302 or FRS 302, a conversational level. For the rest of the courses the instructor will determine if the native speaker is in the correct class and can move the student to a more appropriate level.
Very Important: We strongly recommend that students complete the Language Requirement in the first two years of instruction. Otherwise, they may find that the class they need is not offered, preventing them from graduating. In the exceptional case that the Department deems that a change of placement is appropriate, the placement will only be lowered by one level. Should the student still feel uncomfortable with their placement, they may start a new language at the 101 level.
- For students starting a new language or students placed in the 101 or 102 level: two semesters in the new or placement language.
- For students placing in 200-level or above in French, German, Chinese, or Spanish: one semester of study.
- Students who have achieved a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement test have satisfied this requirement.
- Students who speak, read and write a native language other than English may satisfy this requirement with that language pending approval from the Associate Chair of World Languages and Cultures.
- Students who present appropriate documentation qualifying them for a foreign language substitution may be allowed to substitute two pre-approved courses to satisfy this requirement.
Language Requirement FAQs