Foreign Languages

When you learn a foreign language, you open up a world of job possibilities, from translator to educator to a career abroad. At RWU, you can major in one of five modern languages (French, German, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish), Latin American Studies or Classical Studies. With training in our state-of-the-art interactive language lab and abundant opportunities to study abroad, you’ll master your foreign language and become an asset in our globalized workforce.

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.

Degree Requirements

The Foreign Language Major

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Majors pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in a language must satisfy the University Core Curriculum requirements and the College speech requirement, COMM 210. Specific requirements of the language programs are outlined below. In addition, majors must complete sufficient electives to total 120 credits. Majors are encouraged to apply electives taken outside the major toward a minor or a second major. The three programs of study offered by the department are: Modern Language Studies, Latin-American Studies, and Classical Studies.

The Modern Language Studies major consists of at least 18 credits in the selected language, with 12 of those credits at the 300 level and two major electives to be chosen from a specified list of alternatives. In addition, students are required to pass a comprehensive examination during their final year and to complete a senior thesis related to their course of study.

The Latin-American Studies major consists of the same requirements as the Modern Language Studies major with the following changes:

  • Students must choose either Spanish or Portuguese for the four 300 level course requirements.
  • Students must complete at least one 300 level course in both Spanish and Portuguese.
  • Both major electives must be related to Latin-American studies.

The Classics Concentration consists of the same requirements as the Modern Language Studies major with the following changes:

  • Students must complete four courses at the 300 level in Latin.
  • Students must complete at least one 300 level course (or equivalent) in German, French, or Italian.
  • Both major electives must be related to classical studies.
  • Students must complete two of the following courses: PHIL 251, AAH 121, any ancient history course, or any classical mythology course.

The Foreign Language Minor and Core Concentration

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In order to gain a fundamental proficiency in a language while pursuing a major outside of the Department, students may choose to complete their Core Concentration or a minor in a language. Both programs are open to all majors and both fulfill the University Core Concentration requirements. In order to complete a Core Concentration in a language, students are placed at the appropriate level in their chosen language and are required to complete a minimum of three courses in one language with at least one course being at the 300 level (or above). Students pursuing a minor must complete the Core Concentration requirements and one additional course in the same language at the 300 level (or above). Core Concentrations are not permitted in a student’s native language.

The Foreign Language/Secondary Education Dual Major

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Students pursuing a dual major in Language and Secondary Education must satisfy the University Core Curriculum requirements, all Secondary Education requirements, the following Language requirements, and a sufficient number of electives to total 120 credits.

  • The Foreign Language and Secondary Education Dual Major requires the completion of 30 credits of Language offerings.
  • 12 credits must be completed in the target language at the 300-level or higher.
  • Two Survey in Literature courses (338–339) must be completed in the target language.
  • Students must complete LANG 430: Senior Thesis and satisfactorily complete a written and oral exit exam.
  • 6 credits may be satisfied with elective courses (in translation) related to the target language, provided those credits are approved by the Department. For Modern Language Majors, the Senior Thesis will count as one of these two courses in translation, if the Senior Thesis is not completed in the target language.
  • Students must complete at least one course in linguistics. This linguistic course will count as one of the two elective courses (in translation) if it is not delivered in the target language.

To read more about our academic offerings, or to view full course descriptions, please refer to our University Catalog.

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.


  • CDS International, Inc.
  • AIB Cologne
  • IAESTE United States

Research Projects

  • Bibliographical Database of Spanish Linguistics
  • Translation and Commentary on the “Mirabila Romae”
  • Academic Standards Comparison of American and German Educational Systems
  • History of Fishing in Ancient Greek and Latin Literature
  • Methodologies in Creating Online and Distant Learning Language Classes
  • Digital Scholia
  • History of Rome Through Coins


  • Barrington High School
  • Banco de Portugal
  • Interserver, Inc.
  • Bauer, Inc.
  • U.S. Consulate, New York, NY
  • U.S. Trade Commission, New York, NY
  • Fulbright Commission
  • Siemens, Guibh
  • Asahi Shimbuh New Agency, Tokyo, Japan
  • Texaco, Inc.
  • Bayer, Inc.

Graduate Study

  • Princeton University
  • University of Dallas
  • American University
  • University of Munich
  • Catholic University
  • Rutgers University

Languages Taught

  • American Sign Language
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish