Romance Languages

Degree Type Bachelor of Arts
Department Romance Languages
Academic Division The College
Offerings Major
Diverse and dedicated faculty in the Department of Romance Languages at Washington and Lee aim to foster an intellectual and vital interest in language itself, to provide students with the skills and motivation to use the target language in a multiplicity of contexts, and to promote cultural fluency through the examination of literary, historical and cultural texts, as well as other forms of expression. Through Romance Languages, students can prepare for engagement in a wider world of expanding opportunities and enrichment.

About the Major

The Romance Languages major combines an emphasis in French or Spanish language, literature and culture, and Hispanic linguistics, with language and cultural proficiency in a second Romance language, which could be French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. There are two components to the major: Complete the French or Spanish major with one fewer 200-level elective (27 credits), and complete six credits at the 200-level of a second Romance language. To meet the second component, students typically start with Elementary Spanish or French (111), or Accelerated Elementary Portuguese or Italian (113).

The affiliated Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program (LACS) provides the intellectual excitement of an interdisciplinary approach to the exploration of multicultural societies that speak French, Portuguese and Spanish.

World Language FDR

One of the Foundation and Distribution Requirements at Washington and Lee is proficiency in a world language. Romance Languages offers coursework toward language proficiency in French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, and fulfillment of the foreign language FDR.

If you have a background in French or Spanish and wish to study the same language at W&L, take the placement test to determine the right class for you. Placement 161: Register for French or Spanish 161; Placement 164: Register for French or Spanish 164; Placement 200: Register for any French or Spanish 200-level course.

If you have a background in French or Spanish and wish to start a new language, take the placement test and register for Italian or Portuguese 113, Spanish 111 or French 111. If you have studied little or no French or Spanish and would like to study one of those languages, register for French or Spanish 111.

If you have studied Italian or Portuguese, contact the department for course placement.

Opportunities for Students

Romance Languages is affiliated with study abroad programs in most of Spanish America, Portugal and Brazil, Italy, Spain and France. An extended study abroad experience sets students on the road to linguistic and cultural fluency and is strongly encouraged by our faculty. For students who are pursuing Portuguese or Italian as a second language for the Romance Languages major, study abroad is an excellent way to complete the major.

Back in Lexington, language tables such as Table Français, Mesa Española and Bate-Papo Brasileiro meet twice a week and are a great way for students to practice languages with W&L’s native teaching assistants and faculty.

The English for Speakers of Other Languages Program (ESOL) facilitates communication within the increasingly diverse population of Rockbridge County.

Other opportunities include Casa Hispánica, where students live and speak Spanish, and which serves as a weekly meeting place for cultural activities; French and Portuguese language student-run clubs; Romance Languages Poetry Night; and Pluma, a Spanish-language literary journal.

In addition, students are encouraged to participate in our honors program, which allows engagement in original research with a faculty member on a topic of interest. Completed projects are invaluable assets for graduate or professional school.

Faculty research projects in Art History or Digital Humanities; Spring Term study abroad courses in Italy, France, Argentina, Cádiz and Sevilla, Spain; and Environmental Studies in the Brazilian Amazon offer additional opportunities for progress in language and cultural fluency.

After W&L

Our majors have gone on to pursue graduate study as well as careers in which language and cultural proficiency have proven invaluable. A number of graduates have been successful in gaining prestigious Fulbright Fellowships, no doubt in part due to their strong performance as majors. Recent examples include:

  • Keturah Nichols ’12, Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA), Brazil
  • Kendre Barnes ’13, Fulbright ETA, Panamá
  • Anna Paden Carson ’16, Fulbright ETA, Colombia
  • Harrison Westgarth ’17, Fulbright Research Fellowship, Brazil
  • John Dannehl ’17, Fulbright ETA, Spain
  • Jared Shely ’18, Fulbright ETA, Colombia

Matthew Bailey

Department Head

Shirley Richardson

Administrative Assistant

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