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Languages and Cultures

Overview   |   Find Your Program   |   Off-Campus Programs   |   Frequently Asked Questions   |   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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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.


Annie Bandy
Professor Emerita of French

Paul Cella
Post-Doctoral Fellow in Spanish and Hispanic Studies

Isaura Contreras Rios
Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies

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

Rodolfo Guzmán
Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies

Margaret Hampton
Professor of German

Stephen Heiny
Research Professor of Classics

Yasumi Kuriya
Associate Professor of Japanese

Ying Liu
Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese

Maxwell Paule
Assistant Professor of Ancient and Classical Studies

Karim Sagna
Professor of French

Pierrette Sansone Bares
Instructor of French

Yasumasa Shigenaga
Assistant Professor of Japanese Language and Linguistics

Chris Swafford
Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies

Belén Villarreal
Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies

Susan Wise
Professor of Ancient and Classical Studies

Mingzhe Zheng
Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese

Cynthia Grinspan
Administrative Assistant

Aemilian Mayrhofer
German Language Assistant

Margaux Nail
French Language Assistant

Aya Yamakawa
Japanese Language Fellow