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Foreign Languages

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 Common European Framework for Languages level B2 on internationally recognized 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.

The Common European Framework (CEF) defines Level B2 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.
Julia Garner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
B.A. Bowdoin College, M.A., Ph.D. Brown University
Contact Information
(401) 254-3782
GHH 110

Julia Garner

Julia
Garner
Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
B.A. Bowdoin College, M.A., Ph.D. Brown University
Contact Information
(401) 254-3782
GHH 110

Julia Garner received her B.A. in Spanish and French from Bowdoin College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from Brown University.  Her areas of specialization are 20th-century Mexican literature and visual culture, contemporary Latin American novels, and Latin American cultural studies.  She is particularly interested in the ways in which contemporary Latin American literature represents environmental issues, urban life and politics.  Her recent research examines how novels of catastrophe that emerged in Mexico City following the devastating 1985 earthquake present a critical perspective on Mexico's path to development.  At Roger Williams, she teaches Latin American literature and culture, as well as Spanish and Portuguese language courses.  In addition to her teaching and research, she has performed with a Spanish-language theater company and has led theater workshops in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Makoto Takenaka
Adjunct Professor
Contact Information
(401) 254-3035
Areas of Expertise: 
Foreign Languages (Japanese)

Makoto Takenaka

Makoto
Takenaka
Adjunct Professor
Contact Information
(401) 254-3035
Areas of Expertise: 
Foreign Languages (Japanese)
Min Zhou, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Foreign Language
B.A., M.A. Beijing University, Ph.D. University of Michigan
Contact Information
x5719
GHH 114

Min Zhou

Min
Zhou
Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Foreign Language
B.A., M.A. Beijing University, Ph.D. University of Michigan
Contact Information
x5719
GHH 114
Peter Thompson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Foreign Language
A.B. Princeton University, M.A., Ph.D. Brown University
Contact Information
x5690
GHH 115

Peter Thompson

Peter
Thompson
Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Foreign Language
A.B. Princeton University, M.A., Ph.D. Brown University
Contact Information
x5690
GHH 115

Peter Thompson is a Professor in the department of Modern Languages, Philosophy and Classics, and has also taught literary translation and translation theory at the Madrid Summer Seminars (University of New Orleans). He writes frequently about the Negritude movement, and his related anthologies, Négritude et nouveaux mondes (new edition 2014) and Littérature moderne du monde francophone are widely used in schools and colleges.

Recent books include The Angle of Incidence and Shades (poetry), along with Hearing Your Story, A Passenger From The West, Exile and Helplessness (translations of Nabile Farès), The Gates of the Sun (translation of Nassira Azzouz), The Belly (translation of Tchicaya u Tam’si,  Red Earth (translation of Véronique Tadjo).

Thompson was director of the Engaged Writers Series at University of New Orleans Press, and now edits Ezra: An Online Journal of Translation.

Dong-Hoon Lee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of ESL
B.S., M.A. University of Kansas, Ph.D. Ohio State University
Contact Information
x3872
GHH 230

Dong-Hoon Lee

Dong-Hoon
Lee
Ph.D.
Associate Professor of ESL
B.S., M.A. University of Kansas, Ph.D. Ohio State University
Contact Information
x3872
GHH 230
Jason Jacobs, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages
B.A. New College of Florida, M.A., Ph.D. University of California, Santa Cruz
Contact Information
x3724
GHH 111

Jason Jacobs

Jason
Jacobs
Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages
B.A. New College of Florida, M.A., Ph.D. University of California, Santa Cruz
Contact Information
x3724
GHH 111
Anthony Hollingsworth, Ph.D.
Professor of Foreign Languages and Classics
B.A. University of Dallas, M.A., Ph.D. Brown University
Contact Information
x3344
GHH 112

Anthony Hollingsworth

Anthony
Hollingsworth
Ph.D.
Professor of Foreign Languages and Classics
B.A. University of Dallas, M.A., Ph.D. Brown University
Contact Information
x3344
GHH 112
Peter Alfieri, D.M.A.
Professor of Foreign Languages
B.A. Rhode Island College, M.A., D.M.A. Middlebury College
Contact Information
x5744
GHH 104

Peter Alfieri

Peter
Alfieri
D.M.A.
Professor of Foreign Languages
B.A. Rhode Island College, M.A., D.M.A. Middlebury College
Contact Information
x5744
GHH 104