Why Study Languages and Literatures at PLU?

  • English will continue to grow as a global language, but the disadvantage of being an English-only speaker will grow as well: the world is becoming increasingly multi-lingual. Studying a foreign language may be a strategic – or even necessary – choice in bringing your “wild hopes and big dreams” onto the world stage.
  • Learning to navigate a complex and global world requires a complex and global set of skills. Our programs aim to do more than enable you to speak in another language, read literature in isolation, or travel more easily to a particular part of the world. They teach you to hear and to understand the unique voices of cultures, including your own, and develop the trans-cultural skills necessary for a life of “thoughtful inquiry, leadership, service, and care” in an increasingly connected world.
  • Our programs grow out of PLU’s history, heritage, values, and mission. The languages that we offer – Greek, Latin, French, German, Spanish, Norwegian, and Chinese – provide broad access to the world of tomorrow and inform many of today’s disciplines. Reexamining the past, understanding the present, preparing for the future – all these are reasons to make language study a part of your PLU experience and your “one wild and precious life.”

Opportunities for Languages Majors

Fulbright Scholarships. As of 2010, 72 PLU Languages and Literatures students have won the coveted and prestigious Fulbright scholarship with an all expenses-paid post-graduate year abroad for research and/or teaching.

Double-Duty Courses: If you choose to fulfill the College of Arts and Sciences requirement Option I, foreign language courses numbered 201 or above may be used simultaneously to satisfy the Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Diversity requirement. If you choose to fulfill the CAS requirement using Option I, completion of a foreign language through 102 will do the same. The department also offers a number of courses in English that satisfy General University Requirements in Literature or History, and/or meet requirements for majors or minors in Global Studies, Women’s Studies, the International Honors and other cross-disciplinary programs.

Hong International Hall: At PLU, you can share your interest in, and commitment to, learning languages with others by choosing to live in Hong International Hall, a one-of-a-kind living-learning community that consists of five language and cultural immersion houses (Chinese, French, German, Norwegian and Spanish) as well as a wing for International Honors students. Residents in this thriving living and learning community find a supportive home as well as a hopeful environment that challenges residents and the PLU campus to become fluent in languages and knowledgeable about global issues. HIH has become a dynamic hub of languages-related programming, round-table discussions, and the HIH Fine and Foreign Film Society.

Unique Language Opportunities. While on-campus coursework in the language of choice is the foundation for the PLU Languages major or minor, many other opportunities are available to students that enhance their undergraduate learning experience and nourish global citizenship.

Short-term study away opportunities in China, Germany, Martinique, Norway and Iceland, Greece, Costa Rica, and Spain.

Semester study away programs in Sichuan University (China), the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca (Mexico), Telemark and Oslo (Norway), the Centro de Lenguas Modernas in Granada (Spain), College Year in Athens (Greece), and CIEE Naples (Italy).

Undergraduate and faculty/student research grants from the Humanities Division Kelmer Roe Faculty/Student Grant initiative and from the Wang Center for International Programs (for undergraduate research overseas).

International internship opportunities among the thriving international communities of the greater Seattle-Tacoma area, an emerging hub that connects European trade and the Pacific Rim.

Extensive programming of co-curricular opportunities to support and nurture students’ academic interest in foreign languages and cultures and pressing global issues.

Immersion weekends in some programs offer an annual opportunity for faculty and students to interact in a language immersion context in an activity-filled weekend.

Certification and endorsements from the School of Education and Movement Studies in some languages and English as a Second Language.

Which language(s) should I take?

Choosing a language program depends upon your preferences, your goals, and your major(s). Stop in and talk with any of our faculty – we’re here to help you make the best decision for you.

What if I want to major or minor?

We offer a range of majors and minors. These include:

  • Chinese (minor)
  • Classical Languages or Classical Studies (majors) and Latin, Greek, or Classical Studies (minors)
  • Norwegian (major and minor)
  • French (major and minor)
  • German (major and minor)
  • Hispanic Studies (major and minor)

In addition, our faculty participate extensively in these interdisciplinary majors:

  • Chinese Studies (major)
  • Scandinavian Area Studies (major and minor)

Where do I start?

If you are just starting a language, start with 101. But be careful to plan your schedule accordingly: some programs only offer 101s in the fall!

If you plan to start taking courses in a language that you have previously studied, take a placement test to help you determine which course would be the best fit for you. Placement tests are held on campus during orientation week and at other times by appointment at the Language Resource Center.

For information on placement tests, to learn more about your particular language of interest, visit http://www.plu.edu/languages, call 253-535-7678, or come by and talk to any Languages and Literatures faculty member.

And after I graduate?

PLU Languages and Literatures graduates do business, attend graduate and professional programs, work in NGOs and governmental organization, serve as translators, teach in schools and universities, work in independent film, and participate in archeological excavations all over the world. You never know where and what your language might bring you.

Kim Miller, a 2004 graduate in Spanish, is a case in point: “When people asked me what I was going to do with a Spanish major,” she reports, “At first I really couldn’t answer the question. But I can now. [Being] bilingual … put me ahead of the competition.” Kim reports using her Spanish constantly as a Sourcing Consultant for the worldwide company ADP (Automatic Data Processing).

For more of what Languages and Literatures students are doing, visit the Division publication, PRISM.