World Languages and Cultures

“A different language is a different vision of life.” —Federico Fellini

Encouraging Mount Holyoke students to become proficient in languages other than English is an essential part of the College’s goal of fostering engaged, global citizenship, both abroad and in the U.S. As one professor explains, “By laying down your native language and picking up one that is ‘foreign’ to you, you learn how linguistic and cultural differences affect everything having to do with human encounters.” Consequently, although students can learn about a different culture in many courses across the curriculum, in language courses they actively participate in it.

Mount Holyoke has responded to the realities of today’s world by maintaining its strong commitment to the study of languages. This commitment is reflected in the presence of our Language Resource Center, the variety of opportunities we offer for study abroad, and our long-standing language requirement. In addition, departments offer a broad range of courses emphasizing cultures and literatures of communities in which languages other than English are central.

On the Mount Holyoke campus, we teach a dozen languages (modern and ancient) representing all the continents of the globe:

Through the Five College Supervised Independent Language Program at the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages, students can also learn less commonly taught languages (for example, Czech, modern Greek, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu, and Wolof).

Romance Languages

The interdisciplinary major in Romance languages and cultures is designed to assure fluency in at least two Romance languages, as well as knowledge of the literatures and cultures they represent. The student is encouraged to view language/literature/culture in its interrelatedness and combine linguistic proficiency with cultural and literary expertise. She will develop skills of communication and the critical tools to explore matters of aesthetics, cultural studies, history of ideas, and gender studies. A major in Romance languages and cultures can lead to a variety of national and international careers from government to fashion, from the culinary arts to banking, and from film to teaching.