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  • Foreign Language

With television, telephone, E-mail and the advent of the World Wide Web, it only takes a split second to communicate with anyone from around the world. Where once there was isolation among nations, today we are interdependent as never before. With this increasing global contact, however, comes a need to be able to communicate effectively, and it is no understatement to say that foreign language is a key that can open up the world to you. Knowledge of a language unlocks great works of world literature, enlarges our awareness of other cultures and even enhances our understanding and appreciation of English.

At Roger Williams University, we offer degrees in five modern languages (French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish). In addition to Modern Language Studies RWU offers programs of study in Latin-American Studies and Classical Studies, as well as minors in 11 languages. Students may also pursue a dual major in Language and Secondary Education. Language courses are taught in the University's Global Heritage Hall and Language majors are usually found in the Robert F. Stoico /FIRSTFED Charitable Foundation World Languages Center, our state-of-the-art interactive language lab.

Proficiency in a second language is a huge asset for most any career, and foreign languages are ideal as second majors. Our students have opportunities for studying abroad, individualized trainings and advanced courses in language for specific fields including literacy and linguistics.

In addition, RWU’s last two Fulbright winners came from this department.

Some recent student/faculty projects include:

  • Students wrote the first commentary ever written for a Medieval Latin text on the city of Rome.
  • Students assisted in surveys comparing the differences in spoken Spanish in Puerto Rico and Florida.
  • Students assisted in developing high school language textbooks.
  • Students assisted a professor in comparing travel literature in Communist China and the former Communist Germany.

Student Learning Outcomes

In general, and as an overview to learning outcomes, it is the expectation of the department of Modern Languages that students show a level of foreign language competency equal to or exceeding the equivalent of the ACTFL standard for Level B High on standardized examinations in Italian, German, French and Spanish. Where such standardized examinations do not exist, such competency is tested internally through the department’s exit examination.

American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) defines Level B high as:

  • Students can understand the main ideas of complex texts on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in a field of specialization.
  • They can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for you or your conversation partner.
  • They can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.