Language and Culture

Skill in a second language is essential to global citizenship. Such skill is useful in itself; furthermore, acquiring it exercises broad intellectual skills that transfer to other areas. When students’ acquisition of proficiency in the target language is supported by an analytic study of the fundamental structures of that language, students are continually challenged to exercise critical thinking while solving language problems. Discussion of the nuances of language helps to improve students’ sensitivity to language as a vehicle of expression.

A second language is an integral part of another culture, and second languages need to be studied as such. Students need to consider other cultures in their own terms; they need to recognize the force of locale, time, ideology, and language itself in shaping ways individuals in different cultures perceive human experience. Ultimately, developing a critical perspective with regard to the assumptions of one’s own culture may be the greatest benefit to be gained from first-hand contact with another culture through studying its language.

Students who studied a language other than English (and the cultures where it is spoken) for two or more years in high school must take a placement exam if they plan to continue studying that language at St. Thomas, unless they are bringing in college credit for that or other coursework in that language. Students are not permitted to enroll above or below their placement without approval of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

The Language and Culture core requirement can be fulfilled in any of the following ways:

  • Establish proficiency at the 212 level or higher through completion of a course at that level, proctored placement exam, or the language waiver process (for languages not offered at St. Thomas)
  • Place into the 211 level and complete that level
  • Place into the 112 level and complete 112 & 211
  • Begin a new language, or place into 111 or 122, and complete a two-course sequence

International students who completed their high school education in a language other than English are exempt from this requirement.