Union College pioneered the study of modern languages 200 years ago, when other American colleges and universities offered only the ancient languages of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Today, Union continues in this tradition, recognizing the essential importance of the past, but acutely aware that because students live in an increasingly interdependent world, their need for a global education, including more than one culture and language, is greater than ever.
Union offers a comprehensive program in the study of modern languages, literatures, and cultures. We teach courses in the original languages, as well as in translation. There are full programs leading to a major in French, Spanish, and German; an interdepartmental major in Russian; and minors in Chinese and Japanese (students can count courses from these programs toward a major in East Asian Studies). Union also offers a year of Hebrew; a course in Italian for students preparing for the term abroad in Florence, Italy; a course in Portuguese for students preparing for the term in Brazil; and the possibility of study in Arabic.
The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures also supports many Term Abroad programs, in which students may participate even at an early stage of their language study. The French Term Abroad takes place in Rennes, France, every fall; the German Term combines study in Berlin and Freiburg, each spring; and the Spanish Term alternates between Seville, Spain, and Cuernavaca, Mexico, in the winter. Every fall, there are Terms Abroad in China and Japan, and there are year-long exchange programs with Germany, Japan, Switzerland, and Russia.
To develop and maintain their skills, students have the option of living in language-oriented theme houses on campus, participating in language club activities and language tables, and attending throughout the academic year presentations by renowned speakers, poets, artists, and performers. Students may also participate in a range of exciting mini-term programs that include Martinique, the Louvre, a pilgrimage tour or combined Engineering/Liberal Arts term in Spain, and environmental studies in Brazil.
Union students who pursue language study have immediate access to a dynamic and committed faculty. An extensive library collection and a state-of-the-art language laboratory offer media-interactive language learning, satellite reception of foreign news broadcasts, and a rich collection of foreign film in video and DVD format, all of which are incorporated in lively and creative ways into a widely varying course curriculum. These courses are teacher-student interactive, often interdisciplinary in nature, and frequently taught in electronic classrooms, allowing faculty to combine their teaching styles with the latest developments in technology-assisted language learning.
Students can easily combine a language major or minor with virtually any discipline offered at Union College, thus enhancing their potential to flourish in an international job market that is placing increasing value on the knowledge of other languages and cultures. Furthermore, our students can earn invaluable post-graduate experience teaching English outside of the US, through programs such as JET in Japan, NET in Hong Kong, the French and Spanish government Teaching Assistantships, and the Fulbright program. We invite our students to consult with any of the faculty members or the advisors in the Becker Career Center for guidance towards success in a variety of careers.