Language study is desirable for liberally-educated people because such study provides insights into other peoples and cultures. It also heightens awareness of language and generally strengthens knowledge of English. A concentration in modern languages and literature provides its graduates with both a specific area of skills and competence and a sense of the relationship between a particular discipline and the large body of knowledge that is the patrimony of liberally educated persons.
Whittier College's program in modern languages and literature stresses both practical and humanistic goals. A series of graduated language courses permits acquisition of oral, aural, and written mastery of a foreign language. A comprehensive program of courses in literature and civilization ranges from general introductory surveys through period and genre offerings, to seminars treating individual major authors. This program provides, in depth and in breadth, the experience of another culture and of its modes of thought and expression. The study of Chinese, French, Japanese, or Spanish contributes to this crucial goal by nurturing the development of a sensitive use of the verbal medium.
As educators, we believe that learning languages is essential preparation for participation in the global economy. The United States cannot be a leader in the world while our citizens are captive of their inability to communicate beyond our borders. Knowledge of other languages is essential for business and trade and, more importantly, can be an important bridge to the understanding of other countries, cultures, and customs. All college students must be knowledgeable about the broader world and conversant in another language.
Committed to interdisciplinary studies, the Department of Modern Languages & Literature also offers several paired courses in the College's Liberal Education Program. When paired, these courses are taught in English and are generally numbered at the 100- or 200-level.
The department also serves as a resource for preparation for professional careers in government, commerce, law, journalism, science, social work, women's studies, bilingual education, and teaching, among others.