Sep 19, 2019  
College Catalog 2018-2019 
College Catalog 2018-2019 ARCHIVED CATALOG

Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

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Kenneth Berthel
H. Rafael Chabrán, Emeritus
Marie-Magdeleine Chirol Hill, Co-Chair and Hazel Cooper Jordan Chair in Arts and Humanities
Gustavo Geirola, Co-Chair
Lizardo Herrera
Horng-Yi Lee
Doreen M. O’Connor-Gómez
Andrew Wallis

Language study is desirable for liberally educated people because such study provides insights into other peoples and cultures. It also heightens awareness of language and generally strengthens knowledge of English. A concentration in Modern Languages and Literatures provides its graduates with both a specific area of skills and competence and a sense of the relationship between a particular discipline and the large body of knowledge that is the patrimony of liberally educated persons.

Whittier College’s programs in Modern Languages and Literatures stress both practical and humanistic goals. A series of graduated language courses permits acquisition of oral, aural, and written mastery of a foreign language. A comprehensive program of courses in literature and civilization ranges from general introductory surveys through period and genre offerings, to seminars treating individual major authors. This program provides, in depth and in breadth, the experience of another culture and of its modes of thought and expression. The study of Chinese, French, Japanese, or Spanish contributes to this crucial goal by nurturing the development of a sensitive use of the verbal medium.

As educators, we believe that learning languages is essential preparation for participation in the global economy. The USA cannot be a leader in the world while our citizens are captive of their inability to communicate beyond our borders. Knowledge of other languages is essential for business and trade and, more importantly, can be an important bridge to the understanding of other countries, cultures and customs. All college students must be knowledgeable about the broader world and conversant in another language.

Modern communications technology has turned the global village from a dream to a reality. The Department’s Language Resource Center and media ready classrooms bring technology to the student, making the study of languages, literatures and cultures more interactive and effective. Instructors utilize the Internet as a tool to bring authentic, meaningful culture to their students and learning is enhanced through exercises to develop higher levels of skill in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Students and teachers have easy access to CD-ROMs, DVDs and can watch videos from around the world using the international VCR. Scanning with character recognition of multiple European and Asian languages is also available.

Students should take a placement exam in September of their freshman year and also consult a faculty member in the language to determine enrollment level. The department also serves as a resource for preparation for professional careers in government, commerce, law, journalism, science, social work, women’s studies, bilingual education, and teaching, among others.

Committed to interdisciplinary studies, the Department also offers several paired courses in the College’s Liberal Education Program. When paired, these courses are taught in English and are generally numbered at the 100 to 200 levels.


Mandarin Chinese is the native tongue of approximately 1.4 billion people and is widely used throughout Southeast Asia as the language of cultural, educational and commercial exchange. The Chinese major is designed to provide students with linguistic and cultural competency to function successfully within a Chinese speaking society. With a structured sequence of language, culture and literature courses, the curriculum is designed to familiarize students with China’s long history of cultural traditions and to prepare students for study, travel, business and if so desired working and living in a Chinese environment. Students who major in Chinese may major in either Chinese Language or Chinese Studies.


French is the official language of 33 countries and is widely spoken in at least 10 more. One of only two languages spoken on all five continents, it is used by about 500 million people around the world and has over 125 million native speakers. It is the 2nd language of the Internet, and the 2nd most influential language in the world (Language Today). It is one of the two official working languages of the United Nations, NATO, the Olympic Games, the International Red Cross, the International Monetary Fund, and the 31-member Council of Europe. In addition, 1,000 French Companies operate in the U.S. employing 650,000 Americans, while a similar number of U.S. companies have operations in France. Learning French creates career opportunities.

Japanese Program

The program in Japanese offers training in spoken and written language, as well as study of Japanese culture through a wide range of topics, including literature, linguistics, history, philosophy, art, modern culture and communication. Language classes are conducted in Japanese as much as possible, and provide students personal interaction and communicative practice, including language lab, and opportunities to experience linguistic as well as cultural hands-on experience with native Japanese speakers through various activities and projects. Other classes are conducted in English. The primary goal of the Japanese program is to develop both Japanese language skills and cultural awareness sufficient to succeed in the Japanese speaking society, as well as to provide an opportunity to widen insight into one’s own native language and culture. Knowledge of Japanese is a valuable asset to those who seek opportunities in business, teaching (JET: the Japan and Exchange Teaching Programme in Japan), and government. The College offers a study abroad program at Obilin University in Tokyo, Japan. The courses taken abroad may satisfy minor requirement.



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