College of Arts & Sciences

Modern and Classical Languages

Frequently Asked Question

Does Saint Joseph's have a language requirement?
All incoming students are placed into a language course. Before graduation, students must complete two semesters of language study at the intermediate level or above.

How am I placed into a language course?
Students beginning a language they have not previously studied are automatically placed into the beginning-level courses (101). French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Russian students continuing their studies after high school take the online placement exam the summer prior to matriculation at Saint Joseph's. The score on the placement exam, the number of years of language study, and performance in high school are all taken into account when placements are determined. All students of Italian must complete the online questionnaire. Upon submitting the questionnaire, if you have studied Italian previously, traveled extensively in Italy or hear/speak Italian at home, you will be prompted to take the placement test using the link provided. Latin students should fill out the online questionnaire in the summer before they arrive on campus. Students with more than three years of Latin in high school will also take a placement test during the first week of classes, as will students taking Japanese and Chinese. Students attending class on the first day frequently feel that the course will prove to be too easy or too difficult. If a student has taken the placement test seriously and has completed it to the best of his or her abilities, he or she is most likely in the appropriate course.

Can I wait to start my language classes until the spring semester?
Language courses are taught in two-semester sequences at Saint Joseph's. The first course of the sequence is ONLY offered in the fall, whereas the second course is offered exclusively in the spring. Waiting to begin fulfillment of the language requirement is highly discouraged, as the more time one is away from a language, the more challenging it is to begin study again.

What if I studied one language in high school and want to study another at Saint Joseph's?
Students who choose to study a different language to fulfill the requirement have two options. They may either complete four semesters of courses (1011/1021 and 1211/1221) or opt for the intensive, three-semester program for beginners (1011/1021/1031). All beginning-level courses meet for four hours a week and are worth four credits; intermediate- and advanced-level courses meet for three hours a week and are worth three credits.

Does Saint Joseph's have study abroad programs?

Saint Joseph's students are encouraged to study abroad to develop and support their language studies, and have a variety of program choices, ranging from ten days to one year abroad. Participating in programs that Saint Joseph's sponsors allows students to receive credits for all of the courses they take as if they were taking them at Saint Joseph's. Students may receive credit for taking part in other study abroad programs contingent upon departmental approval through a Petition process. The Center for International Programs offers a semester/year abroad program in each of the languages offered at SJU, where students can continue to develop proficiency in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish. Interested students can take an introductory language course in Czech, Danish, Hindi, Twi & Wolof during their semester abroad.

In addition to possibilities for spending extended periods of time abroad, students also have the opportunity participate in SJU faculty-led Study Tours and Summer Programs. The Study Tour language course takes place on campus and the international component can last from one to three weeks in a variety of locations. For example, the SPA 356 Study Tour to Spain is usually offered biannually. Summer Programs last 4 weeks and the courses are taught entirely abroad for a more immersive experience. For more information about study abroad opportunities, please visit the CIP website.

Can I practice speaking a language outside of class?
Absolutely! In fact, we encourage it. There are several language clubs at Saint Joseph's, including the Spanish Club, the Italian Club, the German Club, and the French Club. These associations sponsor film viewings, outings (such as a trip to a restaurant or to the opera), and activities such as language tables so that students can practice their skills and meet people who share their interests.