Modern Languages

When you learn a new 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, Chinese 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 language and become an asset in our globalized workforce.

Language Placement Test

Foreign language placement testing is required for all new students who have skills in a foreign language and/or have taken courses in a foreign language in high school.  Students who are interested in undertaking language study at RWU (beyond the introductory level) are encouraged to take the placement test. The test will automatically place you into (make you eligible for) a course.

The test appears on each entering student’s Bridges account. Clicking on that title instantly allows you to take the test. Students, including those who have never studied language, are encouraged to have a conversation with the Department of Modern Languages, Philosophy and Classics about options for courses.

Why Study Modern Languages?

With television, telephone, E-mail and social media, 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.

Our Program

At Roger Williams University, we offer degrees in five modern languages (French, German, Italian, Chinese 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 eight 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 three Fulbright winners came from this department.

Languages Taught:

  • American Sign Language
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Spanish

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.
  • 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

Our students find internships at:

  • CDS International, Inc.
  • AIB Cologne
  • IAESTE United States
  • A Praça Magazine
  • Diálogos Books

Study Abroad

Learn more about study abroad opportunities

Download Fact Sheet

Alumni Success

Our Graduates Are Working At:

  • 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 Shimbun New Agency, Tokyo, Japan
  • Texaco, Inc.
  • Bayer, Inc.

Our Graduates Are Studying At:

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

Degree Requirements


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 from among the classical or modern language offerings. 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, for a minimum total of four courses, in the same language at the 300 level (or above). Core Concentrations are not permitted in a student’s native language.

As an example, for a student who places at the 101 level, a Core Concentration in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Latin, or Spanish would consist of the following five courses:
LANG 101 Elementary Language I 
LANG 102 Elementary Language II 
LANG 201 Intermediate Language I 
LANG 202 Intermediate Language II 
One 300- or 400-level course 

For a student who places at the 102 level, a Core Concentration would comprise:
LANG 102 Elementary Language II 
LANG 201 Intermediate Language I 
LANG 202 Intermediate Language II
One 300- or 400-level course 

For a student who places at the 201 level, a Core Concentration would comprise:
LANG 201 Intermediate Language I 
LANG 202 Intermediate Language II
One 300- or 400-level course 

For a student who places at the 202 level, a Core Concentration would comprise:
LANG 202 Intermediate Language II
Two 300- or 400-level courses

For a student who places at the 300 level, a Core Concentration would comprise:
Three 300- or 400-level courses

Students pursuing a Minor must complete the Core Concentration requirements plus:
One additional 300- or 400-level course

Waiver from prerequisite courses does not carry credit. Documentation of the waived courses and placement test results must be sent to the registrar and to the appropriate dean. CORE concentrations are not permitted in a student’s native 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.

  • Roger Williams language students will enter the labor force with special skills and a competitive advantage
  • On the RWU campus, language students will be ambassadors for other cultures and world views
  • Language students will write English with greater clarity and professionalism
  • Roger Williams language students will have experience through study abroad, and international and domestic internships, that will greatly change their vision of their potential and their life-paths

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.

Roger Williams University Goals and Outcomes:

The learning outcomes of our program (above) integrate completely with the university’s goals and mission. We aim to graduate competitive members of the work force, young people with exceptional skills and advantages; we integrate with global communities, helping to address problems that matter to our society and to others; our classes encourage diversity of viewpoints and cultural understanding; beyond our classes, our study abroad programs offer experiential learning and are truly transformative of students’ lives.