Language is at the center of the liberal arts education offered at Fairfield University. Core requirements may be fulfilled in any language listed among the offerings of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, including: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
The Department offers both majors and minors in French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Our scholarly faculty leads you through a program that strongly emphasizes language skills to effectively prepare you for future careers or graduate studies. Internship opportunities and our study abroad program are strongly recommended for you to receive the crucial, real-world experience to succeed in your personal, professional and academic lives.
Our curriculum furthers an understanding and respect for the practices and viewpoints of societies across the globe. As a MLL major, you will expand your proficiency in a foreign language and prepare yourself for a life and career in a progressively global world. As an area that complements an array of professions, graduates commonly find employment in the fields of international business, marketing, anthropology, new media and communication.
Undergrad: BA MLL French/German
Current hometown: Heidelberg, Germany
Graduate School: U. Heidelberg BA Translation Studies German/Engl./French
How did you select your major/minor?
I was fortunate enough to spend my entire junior year abroad as an exchange student in both France and Germany. During that time I made extensive progress in my speaking abilities and enhanced my understanding of the diversity of European culture. My time as an exchange student prepared me to return to Europe and further my studies. I am currently enrolled full-time in a German language bachelor degree program in translation studies.
How did Fairfield’s Jesuit education prepare you for your future?
Describe a project done through the program that you are particularly proud of
Undergrad Degree: International Studies and Spanish with a focus on Latin America
Hometown: Georgetown, MA
Extracurricular Activities: Jesuit University Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) Fellow, Fairfield Volunteer Corps (FVC) Co-leader, Service Learning Associate, City of Bridgeport Department of Sustainability Intern, AmeriCares Latin American Department Intern
Post-graduation: Peace Corps Volunteer; Project Coordinator for USAID
Tell us about your current position, as well as your experience as a member of the Peace Corps.
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, I worked in support of a national project called the Healthy Schools Project. The goal of the project was to improve basic health and hygiene in primary school students in rural Guatemala. As a volunteer under this project, I worked in a school district for the superintendent of its rural primary schools. Within the schools, I trained and supported teachers in creating a healthy physical and psychosocial school environment for the students. Improvements to the physical environment included hand-washing sinks, proper trash disposal, planting schools gardens, health corners in classrooms with personal hygiene items for each student, etc. Psychosocial improvements included talks and activities with kids regarding self esteem, goal setting, etc. I also trained teachers in a teaching format called 4MAT as a means to teaching health topics in a dynamic and interesting way that appeals to a number of different learning styles. Finally, I worked on the strengthening the schools' relationships with outside groups and institutions such as parent associations, local government, and NGOs.
Outside of the schools, I helped set up a Healthy Schools project infrastructure that continues to endure beyond my service. This included a municipal Healthy Schools committee, as well as a departmental level Healthy Schools committee. Actors of the committees come from different ministries (health, education, food security, agriculture, etc.), NGOs, and other groups and support the schools in the development, expansion, and sustainability of the project. And as with all Peace Corps volunteers, a big part of my work also involved community integration and building relationships of trust and understanding. By living in the community that I worked in, I was able to do so. As a volunteer, I learned a lot about Guatemalan culture and society with the goal of sharing my knowledge with friends, family, and others back in the U.S. I also worked to share U.S. culture and promote a great understanding of it among the Guatemalan people.
Today, I work as a Project Coordinator on a USAID-funded Zika response project that focuses on the prevention of sexual transmission, family planning, prenatal and antenatal counseling, newborn screening and psycho-emotional support. The project is currently operating in six Spanish-speaking Latin American countries, so I am constantly speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish and using my Spanish studies from Fairfield. I also took Portuguese at Fairfield. A lot of the learning about Zika comes from the experience of Brazil, so Portuguese is also very relevant to my work as a lot of existing materials and information are available in Portuguese.
Describe the ways that the university’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence in your academic and personal experience while at Fairfield.
Fairfield University’s Jesuit mission and identity were not initially what appealed to me about Fairfield. Instead, it was something that I internalized over my four years as a student. As a Magis scholar, ‘magis’ meaning, ‘more,’ I was often reminded that more was expected of me- academically, in my extracurricular activities, and in how I chose to conduct my Fairfield experience. Shortly after becoming a student, I came to find that I no longer needed the external reminder, because I had come to set that bar for myself. I took service learning courses, became involved in volunteering in Bridgeport, and became a member of the humanitarian action group JUHAN, through which I learned about the complex humanitarian crises of our world today and the small but important impact we could create as a group on the Fairfield campus. In sum, I believe that the influence that the Jesuit mission and identity had on my college experience led me to work hard and constantly strive for more. It led me to think of the impact my decisions have on others and the impact that I can have on others through conscious decision-making. It is that last part that led me to Peace Corps.
When you were at Fairfield, what attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?
I found it helpful that my professors constantly challenged me and expected excellent work from me. Whether it was a paper, a test, or a presentation, I always felt that my professors would not accept mediocre work from me. We all need an extra push sometimes when it comes to doing our best work, and I always felt that my professors were there to give me that extra nudge. At the same time, I also felt that they trusted me, and that they often treated me as a peer. I was able to build personal relationships with them, seek advice from them, and even spend time with them outside of the classroom or during the summer. As a senior in college deciding on my next step, they were there for far more than letters of recommendation. I felt that they were invested in helping me to achieve success and finding work that I am passionate about. My Fairfield professors have been mentors, resources, cheerleaders, and friends. And now, graduated from Fairfield and living abroad, I still communicate with a number of them and know that I can always reach out for advice and support.
Undergrad Degree: English (concentration in teacher education) and Italian
Hometown: Lynbrook, New York
Extracurricular Activities: RA for Gonzaga; Peer Mediation Club Leadership Member; Studied abroad in Florence, Italy
Honors and Awards: Magis Scholarship, Alpha Mu Gamma: Foreign Language Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta: International English Honor Society, English Department Award in Creative Non-Fiction 2013
Currently: Enrolled for a Master's in Italian with Middlebury College Language Schools. The program features a 6 week intensive summer session in Oakland, California on Mills College Campus and an academic year abroad in Florence, Italy
Why did you choose to study your major at Fairfield University?
I came into Fairfield with a declared major in English. I chose to study English because it was (and is) my passion. Fairfield’s wide variety of course offerings in English challenged me to engage with ideas I never considered before. They also enhanced my reading, writing, and oral skills which have become crucial to my progress in and out of the classroom. My grasp of the English language and my passion for sharing the human experience developed profoundly with the inspirational guidance of my amazing professors.
In my second semester as a first-year student, I added Italian as my double major because it was (and is), my second passion. I chose to take classes in Italian as part of the core-language requirement. These classes showed me that studying a second language would be imperative to my success after college and to my growth as an individual through cultural enrichment. I achieved an advanced level of facility in the Italian language and deepened my immense appreciation for what I consider to be one of the most authentic and resonant cultures in the world.
How have you been inspired in pursuit of your academic interests?
The members of the English and Italian departments at Fairfield have been essential to my success as a student and my personal growth these past four years. When I expressed that I wanted to study abroad in Florence, Italy during the spring semester of my junior year, my multiple advisors were extremely supportive and encouraged me to do something outside of my comfort zone. With their guidance, I opted to partake in an academic internship as an ELTA (English Language Teaching Assistant) in two elementary schools outside of Florence. As an ELTA, I used my English major skills to help 3rd and 5th grade Italian students learn English. As a student of Italian language and culture, I used my Italian major skills to navigate around the city of Florence the country of Italy. This experience was the ultimate fusion of my academic interests and personal goals. I was completely inspired to continue working in both of these fields after experiencing them first hand last spring. After graduation, I will return to Florence to work for Fairfield University as the Program Assistant for the Fairfield Florence program. Four years ago, I would never have dreamed that this opportunity was possible. Today, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
Undergrad Degree: BA, Major in English (Creative Writing), Minors in Spanish and Religious Studies
Hometown: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Extracurricular Activities: WVOF 88.5FM Radio, International Student Orientation leader, The Cream Filling Creative Writing club & magazine, Students for Social Justice, Students for Life, Kairos
Job title: Program Officer at the Institute of International Education
Description of duties: I function as the main point of contact for intensive English programs at universities across the United States hosting students from the Brazil Scientific Mobility program. I keep the student advisors/university contacts up-to-date on program policies, field questions, and help respond to student issues.
How did you select your major/minor?
I love Spanish! I declared my minor because I love language learning and feel it is incredibly valuable (both personally and professionally). Courses in Modern Languages are not about making color-coded flashcards and studying grammar charts--they encompass history, literature, current affairs, politics, economics, music, film, food! I loved this about my minor. Over the course of completing my Spanish minor at Fairfield, I studied the "Dirty War" in Argentina, the effects of globalization on Latin America in the 21st century, Cuban film, and literature of the Spanish civil war. A language minor demonstrates how languages are living. In one class we would bring in articles from Latin American newspapers each week for discussion; in another we did presentations on foods and beverages typical of specific countries. Language opens the door to learning about another culture, and subsequently allows for interaction and understanding across political borders.
Knowledge of a foreign language is advantageous professionally as well. The debate isn't over whether speaking another language boosts your employability, but rather which language gets the biggest pay bump. Having a minor in Modern Languages opens the doors to a lot of exciting opportunities in this respect. After graduating from Fairfield, I worked for the Spanish Ministry of Education in Madrid under their North American Teaching Assistants program. My experience there had such a tremendous impact on my life personally and professionally, and it all started from my freshman year core Spanish classes.
What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?
Accessibility and support! My Spanish professors would have open office hours for any students to visit with questions, concerns, ideas. My professor Dr. Jerelyn Johnson was particularly supportive to me throughout my time at Fairfield--from encouraging me as a freshman to succeed in my initial Spanish courses, to advising me as a senior applying for the North American Teaching Assistants program in Madrid.
The language faculty was very hands-on. They are creative in their classroom activities and assignments. One professor, after we all completed presentation projects, rewarded us with a home-cooked Bolivian feast! Another incorporated Spanish pop music when teaching use of the subjunctive. Another had us defend a debate topic in an essay. I really appreciated the diversity of projects, assignments, and approaches to teaching that the department offers.
Undergrad Degree: Psychology and Spanish Minor: Educational Studies
Hometown: Bridgewater, NJ
Extracurricular Activities:FUSA Senate, Alpha Mu Gamma (Language Honor Society), Psi Chi (Psychology Honor Society), New Student Programs (First Year Experience and Orientation Leader), Peer Mediator, Barone Campus Center Building Manger and Information Desk Attendant, Head Start Teaching Assistant, Senior Week Brunch Chair, Casar Batalla Elementary School Reading Tutor, Career Planning Center Office Assistant.
Post-Grad position: Teach For America, South Carolina 2014 Corps Member: Secondary Spanish Teacher (grades 9-12); University of Scranton, Program Coordinator, Cross Cultural Centers (Multicultural Center)
What did you choose to attend Fairfield University?
I visited Fairfield University as a high school junior because a friend of mine went there and suggested I visit the campus. I was the only prospective student on the tour and had the guides’ undivided attention as she told me about Fairfield’s history and traditions. What impacted me the most was when the tour guide sent me a hand-written postcard at home thanking me for the visit. This small gesture led me to realize that Fairfield was a special place I wanted to apply to. When I received my acceptance and attended the Magis Scholars weekend, I knew I had to think about where I wanted to spend the next four years. The most influential component to this weekend was the people I met. Everyone had a different Fairfield experience but each one was positive. From faculty and staff to students, everyone genuinely expressed their joy in being a “Stag.” The values of “Excellence” and “Men and Women for Others” were at the core of every conversation. There was a sense of community and family, and I instantly felt welcomed and a part of the greater mission and identity. The classrooms I sat in allowed me to envision myself as a student on campus where I would be challenged to think and learn from my peers. Fairfield seemed like a place my dreams and goals could become a reality. That weekend, I made friends who would later become my mentors and closest peers on campus when I ultimately decided to attend Fairfield. On this campus I saw myself growing and learning about others. These experiences prepared me to become a Global Citizen.
What attributes regarding the faculty did you like best?
One attribute that resonated with me during the Magis Scholars weekend I attended was the close-knit community Fairfield had to offer and the relationship students could form with their professors. I didn’t believe this could happen since I was under the false impression that professors did not have enough time to meet students. While in many instances they actually do not have the time, they still make the time. That is the difference with Fairfield University and the faculty I have had the pleasure to work. The relationships and mentorships I formed with Dr. Johnson and Dr. Farrell in the Spanish Department have shaped my postgraduate career. They took the time listen to my stories, worries and passions with an open mind and provided me with resources for the next steps. In addition to career conversations, I spent countless hours after class discussing life, society and what it means to be a successful person with them and found their experiences helpful and encouraging. They reminded me to take a step back and examine the bigger picture and enjoy the classes I was taking and immerse myself in service. When I followed their simple advice, I learned what I could offer my fellow peers and community. I will forever treasure these conversations with my professors for they are what have guided me throughout college and continue to influence my decisions and life trajectory.
How/Why did you select your major/minor?
One of the classes I attended when I visited Fairfield was Dr. Primavera’s developmental psychology course. In this class, she challenged students to envision a world where every single child had access to a quality education, good nutrition and a safe environment to thrive in. In my optimistic mind, I thought everyone already had the necessary resources to grow and be successful individuals. We later learned the heartbreaking statistics that exist in our society regarding how many children live and grow up in poverty and experience traumatic experiences throughout their lifetime. Therein began my journey in social justice advocacy work. The first step was to attend Fairfield University and major in Psychology so that I would have access to those conversations and professors who were involved with this type of work.
My second major, Spanish, was rather easy to select. I have a love for the Spanish language and literature because my family is from Paraguay and I grew up speaking Spanish. In essence, both majors allowed me to learn about people, society and how we work together. Through psychology, I learned about the individual and what drives their actions and behaviors. Through Spanish, I learned about different cultures, literature and how to effectively communicate in another language. Thus, it was easy to pick my majors and minors because I knew I wanted to be a part of classes where we would spend time reading about the great pioneers of those fields and later discuss how we could be agents of change in society.
Describe a project or an activity that you have been involved with through the program that you are particularly proud of
One of my favorite memories at Fairfield University took place senior year at the Department of Modern Language Film Series. I was asked to participate as a moderator for a panel discussion with Dr. Javier Campos, Dr. Gisela Gil-Egui and Dr. Michelle Farrell regarding the movie "No” and how it relates to Latin America and political representation in the media. Given my Peruvian background, Dr. Gisela Gil-Egui and I instantly formed a kinship based on our love of Latin America. In the Spring of 2014, we discussed potential scholarship and grant opportunities to develop research opportunities in Paraguay as part of my post graduation plans. Through these conversations, I had the opportunity to work with Gisela on a peer-to-peer level and we developed an instant bond that I deeply cherish. She helped me navigate thoughts and ideas for post graduation, and I saw her as one of my mentors. I am reminded that these types of relationships are what we remember in our life as catalysts for our development. This is the core of a Fairfield University education.
Describe a favorite course and how it helped your academic growth
One of my favorite courses at Fairfield University was Spanish 360: Dictatorships and Revolutionary Movements in Contemporary Latin America. Among the many Spanish courses offered, this particular one revolved around topics that I grew up learning about at home. My grandfather was a revolutionary activist during the Stroessner regime in Paraguay during the 1950’s. Therefore, learning about other Latin American countries and their experiences helped develop my academic growth in many aspects. I learned how to analyze film, stories and books in Spanish and was challenged by Dr. Farrell to look at how society was depicted in these stories and accept them as only way representation of what happened in history during that time. In addition, this class led me to realize my passion for Latin American Studies and how documentaries and film have the power to influence an audience. As a result, the stories we all tell shape how people view us.
Undergrad Degree in (plus any area of concentration): Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, French, and Politics
Hometown: Trumbull, CT
Extracurricular Activities: Research Assistant in the Politics Department, Teaching Assistant for French, Model United Nations, French Club, University Symphony Orchestra
Graduate School: Dual degree program at Columbia University (Master in International Affairs) and Sciences Po (Master in International Development)
Describe a project done through the program that you are particularly proud of:
One of the highlights of my college career was working as a Teaching Assistant of French in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department. I got the amazing chance to teach 1-3 weekly Oral Practice Session (OPS) classes of French each semester, under the direction of Professors of French: Dr. Joel Goldfield and Dr. Zoe Erotopoulos. Using the Rassias Method in my classes, I grew academically, professionally, and personally by strengthening my French and teaching skills. This job reinforced my appreciation for French, teaching, and working with young people.
I formed lasting friendships with my language teaching assistant colleagues, who were from many countries. I also learned so much from my students and the experience. In fact, thanks to my network in the French major, I later became an Assistant Teacher for the Rassias Language Program in France. By working as a language teaching assistant, I gained professional skills; a valuable network of mentors, colleagues, and friends; and new opportunities during and beyond Fairfield University.
What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?
The faculty of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department is supportive of students in many ways, such as individual tutoring during office hours. One of my favorite aspects about the faculty is their work in supplementing academic courses with opportunities outside the class. For instance, the professors of French were immensely supportive of French Club and in encouraging students to attend Francophone-related events. Another experience that illustrates this is when the Alpha Mu Gamma faculty leaders took a group of students to attend the National Language Honors Society Convention in Chicago.
In the Modern Languages and Literatures Department, the energy and encouragement that faculty provide for students creates an enabling learning environment. From my experience as a student and assistant teacher in foreign language, I noticed a unique synergy, cooperation, and camaraderie between the professors of different languages. This served as a positive model for me and for other students. The department faculty and staff seem like a family, united by the goal of helping students to achieve their best in foreign language.
Describe a favorite course and how it helped your academic growth
A course that stands out for me was “Francophone Cultures,” taught by Dr. Sourieau. This was an advanced level course in which students learned about cultures, histories, and populations of French-speaking countries outside of France. Dr. Sourieau utilized challenging and intriguing texts from different world regions. Before long, my classmates and I were discussing effects of colonialism and development in French-speaking countries. I found myself writing at my highest level and giving a 15 minute presentation on French territories, political systems, and economic growth.
This course is unique for its full integration of foreign language with history and social sciences. Foreign language is used in international cooperation and business. And in this class, I advanced my language skills while actively applying French in political, economic, and social deliberations of current issues of today.
Undergrad degree: Majored in Italian Language and Literature, minored in communication
Hometown: Miller Place, New York
Name of employer: Walt Disney World
Job title & brief description of duties: Walt Disney World Front Desk/Concierge cast member. On a normal day-to-day basis I am responsible for checking our guests in and out of the resort as well as aiding them in making the best of their Disney vacation. I use multiple computer systems to create personalized ticket and dining packages for our guests. I am expected to know almost everything/anything about Walt Disney World Resorts and Theme Parks.
Why did you select your majors and minors? And how did that contribute to your professional and personal life?
When I chose to study Italian Language and Literature, I had full intention of becoming a high school Italian teacher. That decision was mainly influenced by my own high school Italian teacher, who I still keep in touch with today. My own personal family background is what also influenced that decision. All of my great-grandparents came to the United States from Italy, and I’ve always had such a strong interest in the language and culture. My sophomore year came and just like every other college kid, I had my doubts. Those doubts, however, led me to applying and later on accepting a position in the Disney College Program. During my program, I was able to register myself as an official Italian translator on Disney property. Ever since I have had the shiny gold “italiano” tag under my name badge, I’ve had the opportunity of working with multiple Italian families from the minute they arrive with us, until the minute they leave.
How did you come to work in your current career field and what inspires you about your work?
Disney has always been a big part of my life. Disney is one of the most constant things in my life. It has been there for me when I’m sad, when I’m mad, when I’m happy, or whenever I needed an escape from the real world. I never thought that one day I would pick up and move to the “happiest place on earth.” There is just something so magical and amazing about helping families create memories that will last them a lifetime. The Disney College Program accepted me into the role of concierge back in August, and when my program ended in January, they hired me as full-time cast member. Now that I’ve worked for Disney, I can’t imagine myself working anywhere else. Walt Disney was an amazing man and I am so grateful and proud to help bring his dreams to life. He has left behind a legacy that is so inspiring and so powerful that it makes going to work every day feel more like an honor than a necessity.
Undergrad Degree: Professional Writing and Italian Language
Graduation year: 2017
Hometown: East Windsor, CT
Extracurricular Activities: Lean In, Italian Club
How/why did you select your major/minor?
In high school, I studied Spanish and really enjoyed it. When I entered college, I wanted to take a new language, but I was not sure which one. My mother’s side of the family is Italian, and continued Italian traditions during holidays. Wanting to understand more about the culture and language of my ancestors, I decided to take Italian courses and fell in love with the beauty of the language. After taking Italian for over a year, I decided to pursue a career that would allow me to use my language and writing skills, such as translation. I decided to double major in English, with a concentration in Professional Writing, and Italian Language.
Describe a project done through the program that you are particularly proud of.
While studying abroad in Florence, I took an Italian Contemporary Literature class in Italian and interned with the first Tuscan Anglo American Festival. They did not have a website or social media pages, and when I joined the team, the event was only three and a half weeks away. I was given full license to build the website in English and Italian, and all of the social media pages from the ground up in three weeks. This included developing content for the blog to promote the event. I reached out to the artists on my own to write about their work, which would be showcased at the festival and travelled to their studios (sometimes outside of Florence) by myself. A good number of the artists couldn't speak English, so I interviewed most of them in Italian and sometimes broken English. It was a truly unforgettable experience and my favorite part of studying abroad. I have gained so much through the Italian Program at Fairfield!
What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?
Professor Diaz of the language department was really helpful and encouraging when I was interested in continuing the study of Italian. She encouraged me to double major and helped me plan out which classes to take so I could fit them into my schedule. She is also the one who told me about the program that allows American students who are studying abroad in Florence to take classes in Italian with Italian students. Professor Diaz organized the i-Italy internship for me and gave me this wonderful opportunity, which eventually led to an internship with the writing team at Save the Children, where I continue to practice my Italian with the employees there. She has been incredibly helpful and really cares about her students. She wants to see them do well and does everything she can to encourage the continuation of the study of Italian language. Professor Carolan encouraged my internship with the festival while I was abroad and continues to expose her classes to important Italian films, music, and literature.
Language core requirements may be fulfilled by successfully completing two semesters at the intermediate level of any language listed among the offerings of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.
Requirements for students seeking a major or minor vary by program and are outlined in detail to provide a full scope of the program’s coursework.
Browse a full list of Modern Language and Literatures courses offered at Fairfield.
Browse a list of frequently asked questions regarding Modern Languages and Literatures placement policy.
The Charles E. Culpeper Language Resource Center (LARC) provides a multimedia environment of hardware, software and learning resources that aim to facilitate and promote the study of languages and their cultures.
The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and budding scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the innovative members of our Modern Languages and Literatures Department.
If you've ever wondered if a particular career is a good fit for you, internships are a terrific way to find out. Academic credit and noncredit internships are available to Fairfield students in every field and offer hands-on, professional experience at leading companies throughout the region.
Wondering whether or not you should major in Modern Languages and Literatures? Watch our alumni discuss their careers and how their major helped them reach their goals.
Browse a full list of scholarships, fellowships and career opportunities available to students majoring in Modern Languages and Literatures.
See what entertaining and educational events are being offered through the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.