Modern Languages and Literatures

As the primary symbolic system by which we establish, maintain, and express our identities, language is one of the most defining aspects of who we are. Its centrality to human existence identifies the study of a language other than one's own as a crucial component of a liberal arts education.

The Modern Languages and Literatures department at Luther College is a center for international and intercultural education, beginning with the fundamentals of that education, the study and learning of different languages. By developing competence in the five language areas (understanding, reading, speaking, writing, and culture) and exploring the fundamentals of language both at Luther and in study abroad, our students learn to operate within a different symbolic system. This unique perspective on diversity enables them

to communicate more fully with people whose language and culture are different from their own;

to better understand the relationship between human cognition, social behavior, language structure, and language use, and to apply the resulting skills to the study of any language;

to develop analytical skills and aesthetic appreciation in the study of written texts, including literature, increasing their awareness of the diversity of human culture through encounters with and practice in non-Anglophone ways of thinking; and

to broaden their understanding of other cultures, to reflect upon their own, and to better appreciate the interaction between language and cultural expression.

The United States is one of only a handful of countries in the world where monolingualism (even among the educated) is the norm. The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures seeks to present our colleagues, students and constituents with a multilingual and therefore multicultural perspective, a necessary step toward furthering national and international education and cooperative communication.