Languages and Cultures, Academics | Earlham College
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Languages and Cultures

Overview   |   Find Your Program   |   Off-Campus Programs   |   Language Requirement FAQs   |   Faculty


Language is at the heart of the human experience. In the Department of Languages and Cultures, our students learn to appreciate how language constructs and connects our world. They develop a deeper awareness of self and of the value of difference, so they may engage meaningfully in multilinguistic communities.

Find Your Program

In whichever department or program you decide to major or minor, you will find faculty ready to help you make the most of your studies. Off‐campus programs hosted around the world, internships, and other study opportunities available to all students, make the Department of Languages and Cultures an excellent base for exploration and growth.


Earlham offers a major and minor in:

Earlham offers a major in:

Earlham offers a minor in:

Earlham offers courses in:

Off-Campus Programs

The Department of Languages and Cultures is responsible for a number of off-campus programs, both short and longer‐term, that are designed to improve your language and cultural knowledge while at the same time keeping you on track for your major(s). Some programs are faculty led, and all programs allow you to develop your independence and familiarity with the host culture.

France Program

Language Requirement FAQs

Language Requirement

The language requirement (POD-L) mandates that all students fulfill the first year of a language other than English if their native language is English. Students whose native language is something other than English fulfill the POD-L with English.  Information about the POD-L is found in the curriculum guide and under the site for the Department of Languages and Cultures (FAQs).

POD-L Process

When the College adopted summer registration for first-year students, the DLC  developed self-assessments (questionnaires that students fill out in the summer on their own) in all languages to provide guidance for students so they can register for an appropriate language course in the summer, before the “official” DLC language placements take place during NSO. 

Students who do the online summer self-assessment, however, may not fulfill the POD-L simply by saying that they have a proficiency at the 200 level or above. The DLC must verify self-assessments to validate fulfillment of the POD-L with a proficiency evaluation. All students have the opportunity to verify their self-assessment during New Student Orientation (NSO).

Some students do not complete the summer self-assessment. Those students (should) participate in the language placement during NSO. Students will complete a paper copy of what we provide online during the summer, plus either an oral or written component (depending on the language) that allows us to determine the appropriate class for the student. Results of the process are emailed to the student, the Registrar, and the student’s adviser. If you do not receive an email from a DLC faculty, it means your student has not participated in the NSO language placement. It is the responsibility of students who have missed the language placement to contact the Department of Languages and Cultures and schedule a make-up assessment, preferably before classes begin.

Students who place themselves during the summer into the beginning level complete the 101-102 sequence (or SuperSpanish 105 which is an intensive one-semester class that combines 101 and 102).

  1. Students who place themselves into 101, must complete 101 and 102 (or 105).
  2. Students who place themselves into 102, must complete 102 (or 105)

Students who are placed by one of us during NSO follow the same basic plan.

  1. Students who are placed into 101, must complete 101 and 102 (or 105).
  2. Students who are placed into 102, must complete 102 (or 105).

NOTE: During the language placement process, we have students who place well into 102 but just don’t have enough language proficiency for us to say they’ve completed the requirement. Those students may opt for 102 or 201 to fulfill the requirement.

Students who place themselves into a 200 or above level of a language have 2 options:

  1.  They can take a class at the appropriate level (200 or above) that verifies their self-assessment. Successful completion of this course fulfills the POD-L.
  2. During NSO they can opt for meeting with a professor in their language to verify the proficiency indicated in their self-assessment. For some languages, this will be an oral interview while others may utilize a more formalized written assessment.  If they are indeed at a 200 level or above, they fulfill the POD-L and notification will be sent to the student, their adviser and the Registrar.


Q: What is POD-L?
A: POD-L is the college general education requirement of “Perspectives on Diversity: Language.” It can be fulfilled in several ways:

  1. Completing a year of a language class at Earlham (101 & 102 in any language offered, or 105 super Spanish or super French).
  2. Taking a validation assessment or a validation course (see below for further details) if you have placed into a 201 class or above.
  3. Demonstrating the equivalent level of competency in a language not taught at Earlham.
  4. If English is not your first language, then English will fulfill this requirement.


Q: I’ve taken the self-assessment in Spanish (Japanese, Latin, etc.) and placed myself into Spanish 201. Can I therefore tell the registrar and my adviser that I’ve ‘tested out’ of the POD-L requirement?
A: No. You need to take either a validation assessment with a Spanish (Japanese, Latin, etc.) professor or you need to take either Spanish 102 (Japanese 102, Latin 102, etc.) or Spanish 201 (Japanese 201, Latin 201, etc.) as a validation class. You cannot fulfill the language requirement by self-placement.


Q: What is a validation class?
A: Many students know most but not all of the material covered in the second semester of introductory language study at Earlham. A validation class is an opportunity to obtain and demonstrate mastery of that necessary material. If you know a significant portion of the material covered in 102, your professor will likely suggest taking 201 as a validation course so as to avoid repeating material for much of the semester in 102. However, you may still choose to take 102 as your validation course


Q: What is a validation assessment?
A: This is a formalized assessment of your language skills - usually taken during New Student Orientation - to determine whether you are proficient enough to satisfy the language requirement at Earlham without formal coursework. The format varies from language to language but typically involves spoken and written components.


Q: If I pass a validation assessment, how will I know?
A: The language professor will send an email indicating your successful completion of the assessment (and thereby the language requirement) to you, your adviser, and the Registrar’s Office.


Q: I’m an international student whose first language is not English. Do I need to take the language assessment in my native language and/or take a validation assessment?
A: No. You are using English to fulfill the POD-L requirement.


Q: I’m not an international student, but I speak a language other than English (and not offered at Earlham) at home and can function comfortably in that language. Can I use this knowledge to fulfill the POD-L requirement?
A: Yes. You must talk to a language professor when you arrive on campus in order to demonstrate your level of competency in your other language, or you may pay for an outside assessment (e.g. through the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages -- ACTFL) and bring the results to the Languages and Cultures Department.


Q: Is it possible to study a language that is not offered at Earlham College?
A: Yes.  You would take that other language through other means, perhaps another institution, perhaps in summer school.  To verify that your proficiency level fulfills the POD-L  you would either find  someone on the Earlham faculty who also speaks that language and can verify that you have an intermediate level of proficiency, or you may pay for an outside assessment (e.g. through the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages -- ACTFL) and bring the results to the Languages and Cultures Department.


Vialcary Crisóstomo Tejada
Assistant Professor of Spanish & Hispanic Studies

Juan Gabaldon-Vielma
Adjunct Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies

Rodolfo Guzmán
Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies

Stephen Heiny
Research Professor of Classics

Yasumi Kuriya
Associate Professor of Japanese

Ying Liu
Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese

Maxwell Paule
Associate Professor of Ancient and Classical Studies

Karim Sagna
Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Yasumasa Shigenaga
Assistant Professor of Japanese Language and Linguistics

Mingda Sun
Post-Doctoral Fellow in Chinese

Belén Villarreal
Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies

Susan Wise
Professor of Ancient and Classical Studies

Aya Yamakawa
Japanese Language and Linguistics Fellow

Cynthia Grinspan
Administrative Assistant

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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