Dec 09, 2023  
University Catalog 2020-2021 
University Catalog 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Languages

Division of Fine Arts and Humanities

Administration Building, Suite 215 - (504) 520-7495 -

Department of Languages Mission Statement

Taking as the most fundamental principle the creation of a more just and humane society, the Department of Languages embodies a pluralistic teaching and learning environment by exemplifying diversity. Courses in the Department of Languages are infused with a multicultural, multiethnic content that counters the inexcusable and all too frequent omission of the African continental and Diaspora presence in the teaching of languages and literatures, while at the same time incorporating a global perspective which prepares students for their professional and personal lives in the third millennium.

Through the department’s diversity, varied research interests, and dedication to a pluralistic and integrated pedagogy, the Department of Languages works to advocate a sound intellectual dialogue, a rigorous and progressive academic formation, and a commitment to stand firm against all forms of injustice. The faculty engage in the ongoing enhancement of the curricula and ensure that the courses are all encompassing, enriching, and challenging.


Language is the gatekeeper and conveyor of culture. The Xavier University Department of Languages provides definitive traditional and innovative training in languages, literatures, and cultures, which represent the three fundamental, integral, and complementary aspects of language learning in any venue, here particularly in French and Spanish. By its very nature, teaching and learning in the Department of Languages compel the dissemination of interdisciplinary information on languages and language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), literatures, culture, history, politics, etc. We offer a major and a minor in French and Spanish, and an interdisciplinary  minor in Afro Latin American and Caribbean Studies (ALACS).  In conjunction with the Center for International and Intercultural Programs (CIIP), we also offer faculty-led international and multicultural study abroad opportunities to Spanish and French-speaking countries.  While maintaining a heavy target language focus in both French and Spanish, the ALACS courses are enriching culture-based courses and are not considered language learning based or literature courses, and cannot count as such.  Students are encouraged to include these ALACS courses in their curriculum as electives, particularly because they focus on the history, lives, and contributions of Black Latin American and Caribbean citizens to the countries and civilizations in which they live.  This is a most unique course of study and the only one of its kind as a minor at the undergraduate level in the USA.

ALL courses in the Department of Languages, whether basic or advanced language learning courses at all academic levels, international literature courses, or culture-based courses, must of necessity include and require constant critical analysis and intense analytical thinking skills; and they must also inherently incorporate cultural content. Furthermore, all courses at every level of teaching and study must and do have definitive educational learning objectives in keeping with traditional and developing language teaching methodologies and strategies. Language teaching and language learning cannot be conducted without such basic educational tenets. Recognizing this essential relationship between language and culture, the Department of Languages seeks to infuse its courses with significant content and cultural information.

The Department of Languages contributes to a heightened sense of global community and world citizenship and assists in the development of the language and cultural skills necessary for graduates to function effectively in intercultural and international work environments. The curriculum is proficiency-based (the acquisition of the four primary skills in the target language: comprehension, speaking or signing, reading, and writing), and emphasizes an understanding of the target culture. The language curriculum affirms the crucial role of literature in developing critical and analytical thinking skills and in providing insight into culture and the transmission of societal values.

Careers enjoyed by language alumni are interdisciplinary and international in scope and include teaching languages at every level, the Foreign Service, law, business, health care, international relations, translation and interpretation, tourism and travel. Xavier language alumni have pursued graduate and professional degrees in business, medicine, education, fine arts, performing arts, law, international affairs, psychology, sociology, languages and literature. They have served the national and international communities in these and other disciplines. They serve on prominent nationally and internationally recognized governing boards, and as university presidents and vice presidents.

Students receive instruction in the diverse cultures and content areas expressed by their languages of choice. The Department of Languages is committed to teaching the international significance of the primary target languages of French and Spanish, and stresses their importance as bases for communication particularly by peoples of color. All students considering a major in languages must confer with a departmental advisor as early as possible in their Xavier careers so that their curricula can be appropriately designed and will be inclusive of both skills and content courses.

Instructional Strategies

Instructors in the Department of Languages are committed to the incorporation of instructional technology, experiential learning, and inter-departmental collaboration. In addition to traditional classrooms, the Department of Languages offers instruction in electronic classrooms with multimedia facilities, computerized teaching laboratories, and seminar rooms for upper level classes. Many skills level courses feature Internet enhanced instruction, online homework, and instructor-developed multimedia programs.

The Languages faculty is composed of instructors from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. Because of the nature of language instruction, students are exposed to a diversity of cultures and perspectives both in the structure of their courses and in contact with their professors. Combining exciting and enriching instruction with the latest in classroom technology, our classes are small. Students receive close personal attention at all levels of instruction. By taking advantage of the many cultural resources of New Orleans and south Louisiana, students can participate in local and regional multicultural learning experiences involving language practice.

Placement and Credit Policy

Any student who has taken two or more years of French or Spanish courses in high school must take the Department Placement Exam. Test scores will be sent to the Department of Languages where appropriate placement levels will be determined according to the Placement chart below. THE TEST MUST BE COMPLETED BEFORE THE STUDENT’S ARRIVAL AT THE UNIVERSITY.

All students must take the Language Placement Exam prior to registering for a language course. Placement will be contingent upon their years of previous language study and the Webcape Placement score that corresponds to the student’s test score, according to the following chart. Native speakers and students with 3 or more years of language study cannot register for the 1010 level of the language they have studied previously. The recommended level of entry is 2010 or above, since 2010 reviews all previous language study. These students may also enter 1090, which is a Conversation and Culture course that reviews basic grammatical and communicative skills in a cultural context. They may also enroll in the 1010-1020 sequence in a language they have not studied in high school.  

Transfer students with previous language study at the 1020 level or above documented on the transcript may receive credit for 1010 in that language.


Placement score FREN or SPAN Placement FREN or SPAN credit awarded
0-99 1010  
100-175 1020 1010
176-235 1090 1020
236-299 2010 1020
300-399 2020 2010
400 or higher 3000+ level 2020

Students will be required to complete at least one course at Xavier, at a level appropriate to the placement score with a grade of ‘C’ or better, before the preceding placement course credit of three hours is granted.

Since the choice of a language is closely tied to personal career goals and inclinations, the language faculty is prepared upon request to assist in the selection of that language. Students who have prior preparation in a language and who wish to continue study of the same language may also use Advanced Placement (AP), CLEP, and International Baccalaureate (IB) scores for credit and placement in upper-level courses. See “Credit by Examination” on the university web site for further details (  Students with six hours of AP or CLEP credits in a language may use these credits as electives or to meet the Fundamentals Core requirement as well as for placement in upper-level language courses.

Note: Any exception to this policy requires written permission from the Languages Department Head.

Updates to this policy can be found at:

Majors and Minors

The Department of Languages offers majors and minors in French and Spanish, with additional study available in American Sign Language, Mandarin, Biblical Greek, Biblical Hebrew, and Latin . Ordinarily, the major requires 30 semester credit hours in the target language beyond 1010-1020; students who wish to begin a language major at the elementary level receive assistance from their advisors and other members of the department faculty in order to facilitate course planning leading to satisfactory completion of all necessary coursework in a timely fashion. Language majors and minors and other interested students have access to summer, semester, and year-abroad international study through the Center for Intercultural and International Programs (CIIP). All students are urged to take advantage of this opportunity. Most upper-level students and double majors in the department earn part of their required credits through immersion study in a country where their language of choice is spoken. These students return to Xavier with advanced-level language skills, as determined by the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) examination developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

Eighteen hours of major courses and nine hours of minor courses must be completed at Xavier unless the student obtains permission from the department head and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Students interested in majoring or minoring in a language and studying abroad must have a language advisor and must consult with that advisor prior to entering the program of study or registering for international coursework. All students should take at least one literature course either before or during foreign study. Majors are required to complete at least four literature courses, to attend all departmental meetings, and to pass a comprehensive examination in the target language. This comprehensive examination contains literary topics on European, Latin American, and African texts, as appropriate to language and course selection.

Concentration in Languages - Students desiring a double concentration in languages must complete 12 hours in each of two languages (24 hours total) or in a language and another discipline. Recommended courses for a 12-hour concentration in languages include the following: 1090, 2010-2020, and one 3000 or 4000 level course, or 12 hours of all upper level courses, depending on the student’s level of performance.

Language Department Policy

  1. Because the Department of Languages Placement Policy clearly states that native speakers and students with 3 or more years of language study cannot register for the 1010 level of the language they have studied previously.   The recommended level of entry is 2010 or above, since 2010 reviews all previous language study.  The Department of Languages does not recognize course credit for native speakers who take elementary level courses in their native language. Native and non-native speakers cannot register for any classes below their placement level.
  2. All language students MUST have an advisor in the Department of Languages and MUST NOT self advise. Language students must meet with their advisors prior to registration and pre-registration periods and particularly prior to study abroad to insure that they are progressing appropriately toward their desired degrees.
  3. Upper-level language students by placement credit or who have completed the intermediate level must not register for lower level language courses, except for 1090 and 2020, and then only with special written permission. Other than the ones mentioned above, lower level courses taken by upper level students will not count toward the pursuit of any degree and will negate student eligibility for membership into the International Foreign Language Honor Society.

The programs of the Department of Languages open the doors to other cultures and offer many exciting options for future professional development, giving students access to a rainbow of communities and civilizations. Department graduates take their rightful places as world citizens who contribute to the complex and challenging global economy of the 21st century.


    Bachelor of ArtsCertificateNon-degree