In an international community such as Lewis & Clark College, the study of foreign languages and cultures plays an integral role in the educational process. Not only is language the key to understanding the values and beliefs of other nations, knowledge of another language prepares students to live in an increasingly global society. Lewis & Clark students discover that the study of foreign languages enhances the quality of their liberal arts education and broadens their opportunities, both professionally and personally. Graduates of the College discover the usefulness of their language studies in careers such as international business, politics, translation, foreign correspondence, medicine, social work, and teaching.

For these reasons, Lewis & Clark places a strong emphasis on language and cultural studies, requiring all students to demonstrate basic competency in a foreign language.

Nine languages are offered at Lewis & Clark. Because of our location, we are particularly interested in the Pacific Rim, and therefore offer programs in Japanese, Chinese, and Russian, in addition to French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Latin and Classical Greek. Courses in language, literature, and culture are available, as are courses in literature in translation. Course enrollment is usually 19 students.

Students may explore their interest in language and culture in one of two ways: they can focus on one language and major in French studies, German studies, or Hispanic studies; or they can combine two languages and receive a World Languages major (recommended for those interested in mastering more than one language). Both options are often pursued in conjunction with another major, such as international affairs or psychology. Students of Chinese and Japanese may combine their language study with other fields to complete an interdisciplinary major or minor in Asian studies. In addition, minors are offered in Classical Studies, Latin American studies, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and French.

Since the department strongly believes that learning in the classroom must be supplemented with learning in the field, we require all majors to study abroad. Overseas study provides a unique opportunity for students to improve their language skills and experience the culture being studied. Semester programs are offered in Chile, China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Japan, Russia, Senegal, and Spain. Full-year programs are available in Munich, Germany; Strasbourg, France; Santiago/ Dominican Republic; Santiago/Valparaiso, Chile; Beijing/Harbin, China; and Seinan Gakuin, Osaka Gakuin and Tokyo in Japan.

A major in the department prepares graduates to enter a variety of fields, including international business, academics, diplomacy, and humanitarian work. Students who combine their language study with other fields or who continue their studies at graduate school may find a career in journalism, medicine, social work, politics, translation, or teaching.

Examples of student practicum experiences

  • Interpreter for the Hispanic Women’s Shelter (Spanish).
  • Teacher’s aide for the International School’s French, Chinese and Japanese immersion programs.
  • Tutor for high school children of migrant workers (Spanish).
  • Interpreter for hospital patients at Oregon Health and Science University (Russian).
  • Teacher of English, basic computer skills, and citizenship to immigrants (Russian).
  • Tutoring immigrant high school students (Russian).

Examples of fields chosen by graduates

  • English teaching in China, Russia, Mexico, Germany, France, and Japan
  • Bilingual health service (Spanish and English)
  • Information technology
  • Broadcasting (Star TV in Hong Kong)
  • Journalism (Russian)
  • The Peace Corps
  • Medicine
  • International Law
  • Interpretation
  • Foreign Service

Examples of graduate studies

  • Truman scholarship for international relations.
  • University of Munich (German history).
  • Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
  • Fulbright fellowships to teach English in other countries.
  • University of Colorado (Chinese).
  • Monterey Institute of International Studies.
  • American University (international service).
  • European University at St. Petersburg (international relations).
  • Moscow State University of International Affairs (conflict resolution).
  • University of Kiel, Germany (medical studies).
  • IREX grant to study in Russia.