In an increasingly interdependent world, the study of languages and cultures, including the heritage languages and cultures of immigrants to the United States, is a fundamental part of every student’s education. Knowledge of at least one foreign language and familiarity with different societies equip university graduates for more intelligent choices as citizens of today’s world, and enhance their effectiveness in a range of career fields, including law, journalism, business, education, health care, banking, social work, management, international administration and many others in the public and private sectors. The study of linguistics and human communication provides perspectives and tools of analysis useful in every human endeavor.
The Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication (MLLI) offers an innovative, multi-disciplinary program with a triple focus: language, literature and society. Courses are offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Linguistics, Russian, Spanish and Wolof, as well as a range of culture and general education courses under the designation MLL (Modern Languages and Linguistics). Majors in Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication share a common interdisciplinary core of courses (MLL 190, 230 and 301), which provides a grounding in essential issues of human communication and social context. There are four options for the MLLI major:
One-language option in French, German, Russian or Spanish
Language and cultural studies
The department also offers a minor, a certificate in language studies (Chinese/French/German/Korean/Russian/Spanish), and a certificate in Intercultural Communication. Additionally, the program in modern languages combines exceptionally well with major programs in many other departments, where knowledge of another language and culture is often a valuable asset.
The courses listed as MLL, taught in English, provide offerings of general interest to both the major and non-major. These courses present a wide international and intercultural perspective on aspects of language, linguistics, world literature, culture and film.
Career and Academic Paths
MLLI graduates have successfully pursued careers in law, medicine, education, social work, government and international business, human rights organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Within the accelerated B.A./M.A. program offered by the department, qualified students completing an undergraduate major in Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication may, during their junior or senior year, apply for admission to the Master of Arts (M.A.) in Intercultural Communication. If accepted, they can apply nine credits of approved B.A. course work to their M.A. degree. Such students may be able to complete both degrees in five years. Those interested should contact the director of the INCC graduate program. A description of the M.A. in Intercultural Communication may be found in the Graduate Catalog. Courses frequently taken by undergraduates in the accelerated B.A./M.A. program include:
French track: FREN 610 Studies in French Language and Linguistics; FREN 630 Studies in French Literature; FREN 640: Studies in French-Speaking Culture and Society
German track: GERM 601: German then and now: Studies in German Language; GERM 621: Intercultural Studies in German Popular Culture; GERM 681: Seminar in Intercultural German Studies
Spanish track: SPAN 601: Studies in Spanish Language; SPAN 621: Studies in Hispanic Literature; SPAN 672: Topics in Latin-American Society
For a complete list of courses and their descriptions, please consult the Graduate Catalog.
All MLLI students are encouraged to spend a semester or at least a summer working abroad or studying in an approved university program in a country where the language is spoken. Students in these areas are advised by MLLI faculty on their choice of program and assisted in course selection and credit transfer. They are also put in contact with students who have returned from study abroad experiences. The experience of living and studying abroad is an extremely important asset for all language students. Students should discuss study abroad options with their advisor early in their studies. In general, financial aid may be applied to study abroad programs, and credits earned in the target language through study abroad may be transferred to UMBC and applied towards the MLLI major and minor programs. Students interested in co-ops and internships abroad are encouraged to consult the Shriver Center.
The Honors Program of the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication provides a small group of majors with additional intellectual experiences, both individually and as a group. The central components of the program are an honors seminar taught in English and the development and writing of an honors project, an experience that provides exceptional preparation for the work world or graduate school. Students who complete the program will graduate with departmental honors. For more information, visit the above link.
There are many openings for teachers of modern languages in public and private schools. Students intending to major in a language and seek elementary or early-childhood certification or seek secondary certification in their major language should consult with the Department of Education as early as possible for a description of the certification requirements and the procedures for admittance into the program.
The Modern Languages Linguistics and Intercultural Communication department organizes annual information meetings on the major, internships and study abroad. Students with an interest in majoring or minoring in modern languages and linguistics should contact the department office at 410-455-2109. Majors and minors are assigned to a faculty advisor, but they are free to select a different advisor at any time and are encouraged to do so if their interests and career goals change. Transfer students should meet as quickly as possible with the coordinator in the area in which their main interests lie (French, German, linguistics, Russian, Spanish) to plan an efficient program of study.
Intercultural Living Exchange
The Intercultural Living Exchange is a living learning community of UMBC. Students residing in the intercultural suites interact with international student resident mentors (native speakers of each cluster language: Chinese, French, German, Korean, Japanese, Russian and Spanish), who organize cultural and social activities for their language clusters as well as for the UMBC community. These activities include participation in UMBC’s International Week, intercultural presentations and workshops, language chat hours, study abroad presentations, international film festivals, field trips, culinary projects, intercultural holiday celebrations, lunches with faculty and excursions to concerts, plays and museum exhibits. Residence in the ILE provides excellent preparation for study abroad, as well as continuity for those who have previously gained language proficiency in a study abroad experience.
In collaboration with The Shriver Center, the department provides majors in Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication information and support for internships. Internships and community service projects are available for activities ranging from teaching language to children to working with foreign travelers for VISA International. In addition, internships abroad have, in recent years, become a significant way of combining study abroad with work experience. Students interested in earning MLLI credit for internships should consult with the department’s internship coordinator, Dr. Sara Poggio.
Financial aid is available for majors to participate in study abroad programs. In addition, the German area offers the Knapple and Plogman scholarships for students in the German track. Applications are due each April; awards are announced in May. Music students who also study German may apply for the Elterman scholarship through the music department.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
The faculty encourages and supports undergraduate participation in faculty research. Advanced Spanish students may join in a research project based in a Spanish-speaking area in Baltimore.