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2014-2015 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Modern Languages and Literatures - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences section in this catalog.


The importance of foreign language study has never been more obvious than in today's global society. Leaders in business, government, and throughout the community are calling for increased awareness of the interrelatedness and interdependence of all nations and societies. One of the traditional barriers to understanding, and to the free ow of communication, has been a lack of informed citizens with competence in at least one foreign language. There is no better way to understand and appreciate cultures other than your own than to communicate with other peoples in their own language. What is more, the mastery of a foreign language inevitably improves your command of your native language. With such a high premium on communication skills in the world today, foreign language study is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

Honors Societies

Pi Delta Phi (French), Delta Phi Alpha (German), Dobro Slovo (Russian), Signa Delta Pi (Spanish).

Degree Requirements

A student working toward any B.A. degree must successfully complete the third semester course in a foreign language.

Transfer students who wish to major in a foreign language at Grand Valley must take a minimum of 12 credit hours of advanced-level coursework (300 or above) with the Department of Modern Languages and Literature at Grand Valley to qualify for a major. For transfer students who wish to minor in a foreign language, a minimum of six credit hours of advanced coursework (300 or above) with the Department of Modern Languages and Literature at Grand Valley is required. This requirement includes those who have graduated from other institutions and now seek teaching certification from Grand Valley.

Students seeking secondary certification in foreign languages must take the foreign language methods seminar, Education 331, in order to be certified. Students may also choose to enroll in foreign language and literature courses on a credit/no credit basis.

All French, German and Spanish majors and minors seeking teaching licensure must demonstrate oral proficiency at the advanced-low level (or higher) prior to enrolling in the College of Education. A study abroad experience of at least one semester is strongly recommended.

The 380 special-topics courses are available in all foreign languages. The independent study and research courses in French, German, Russian, and Spanish are available to qualified students for independent study in areas not covered by the regular foreign language offerings.

Placement in Language Courses

Students who have studied a foreign language in high school or who have practical knowledge of a foreign language must take a placement examination prior to enrolling for further study of that language. Students must enroll in the course in which they place on the examination. Instructors who determine that students are inappropriately enrolled may direct them to move to the appropriate level. Students can count one placement test per semester (only the first attempt).

Transfer students with prior college language study are not eligible to take the placement examination in that language, and must enroll in a course at the next appropriate level.

Students with non-college language learning may be able to earn college credit by achieving an appropriate score on an approved national test, such as Advanced Placement (see "Credit by Examination").

Native speakers are not eligible to take the placement exam, nor are they eligible to enroll in 100 or 200-level courses, except SPA 203. The students should talk to an advisor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literature for proper placement.

"150" Course

This course is designed for students who have sufficient prior study to make placement in 101 inappropriate. The 150 course includes a review of first semester language (101) and covers the same material as 102. Completion of the course with a grade of C or higher prepares students for 201.

Foreign Language Resource Center (Laboratory) (

The Language Resource Center offers access to state-of-the-art audio, video, and computer technologies. The LRC laboratories host 66 language-learning workstations, which are reserved exclusively for GVSU language students but closed to general campus use. All elementary and intermediate language courses require a minimum of 50 minutes a week of lab attendance. The audio-visual and computer resources are used to enrich many upper-division courses, too. Foreign language students can also access most of the LRC audio resources from their homes, or elsewhere, via the Internet. LRC equipment and software are being constantly updated and expanded.

Study Abroad (

Grand Valley urges all students to seek study abroad experience. Foreign language majors and minors will make exceptional progress by combining study abroad with their formal coursework on the home campus. Moreover, approved study experiences of varying lengths-summer, semester, or academic year-carry full academic credit for all participants, including non-majors. The majority of programs currently offered takes place during the summer and are accompanied by a Grand Valley State University faculty member. Longer stays can be arranged, however, through Grand Valley's institutional ties with colleges and universities in most regions of the world.

For more information, students should contact the Padnos International Center at (616) 331-3898.

Regular accompanied programs include:

China-One or two semester programs in Chinese language and culture at East China Normal University, Shanghai.

France-A summer school program in French language and culture located in Nice in southern France.

Germany-A faculty-led summer program in German language and culture and a full semester exchange at our partner institute in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany; semester exchange (primarily for business students) in Mosbach/Bad Mergentheim.

Japan-A faculty-led spring program in Osaka; semester or full-year programs at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities in Hikone and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu; and full-year exchange program with International Christian University of Tokyo.

Jordan-A faculty-led summer school program at the University of Jordan in Amman where students study colloquial Arabic and get immersed in Arabic culture.

Mexico-A summer school program offering classes in Spanish language, literature, culture, and civilization in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Poland-Summer and academic year programs in economics, management, and the Polish language located at the Krakow University of Economics.

Russia-A faculty-led summer program for various levels of Russian language and Russian culture instruction.

Spain-Intensive Spanish language studies (all levels) for fall, winter, or summer semesters at the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain.

Taiwan-A summer school program offering classes in Chinese language and culture in Taiwan.

Grand Valley offers two full years (16 credits) of instruction in Arabic, Italian, Japanese, and Polish. The 201 course satisfies the B.A. degree cognate. Courses in Arabic are part of the Middle East studies minor and courses in both Chinese and Japanese language are part of the East Asian studies minor. Plans are under way to increase offerings in these and other less-commonly taught languages.

Chinese, Italian, Japanese, and Polish Language Instruction

Grand Valley offers two full years (16 credits) of instruction in Chinese, Italian, Japanese, and Polish. The 201 course satisfies the B.A. degree cognate. Courses in both Chinese and Japanese language are part of the East Asian Studies minor. Plans are underway to increase offerings in these and other less commonly taught languages.

Courses of Instruction in Chinese:

Courses of Instruction in Italian:

Courses of Instruction in Japanese:

Courses of Instruction in Polish:

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