Modern and Classical Languages

Modern and Classical Languages

Modern and Classical Languages

Why Study Modern and Classical Languages?

The essence of a Christian liberal arts education is to interact with all of God’s world from a Christian perspective. Modern and Classical Language study equips students to do so especially well by challenging them to master a language, to ask significant questions and seek answers, to develop original ideas, and to become intellectually self-motivated, life-long learners and servants of Christ. Many Modern and Classical Language students at Wheaton are double majors, combining a language with majors such as archaeology, biblical and theological studies, business/economics, communication, psychology, philosophy, applied health science, education, or international relations.

Have questions regarding language testing? Contact Dr. Arielle Akines, Language Resource Center Director.

Languages that are currently offered

Where to Find Us

Office Locations of MCL Department Personnel. Please note that our office locations are in McAlister Hall (405 N. Washington St.), immediately northwest of Blanchard Hall. CATC language requirement or language placement testing questions should be directed to Dr. Arielle Akines in MCA 110. The department chair, Dr. Tamara Townsend, is in MCA 220. The department’s senior office coordinator, Ian Roseen, is in MCA 212. If you desire to email a particular member of the department and their faculty listing does not include their address, please reach out to us at and we’ll put you in touch as appropriate.

Meet Our Department Chair

Tamara TownsendDr. Tamara Townsend, Associate Professor of Spanish, is the chair of the Modern and Classical Languages department.

Tamara Townsend, Ph.D., Department Chair, Spanish - McAlister (MCA) 220

Arielle Akines, Ph.D., Language Resource Center Director - MCA 110

Ian Roseen, Senior Office Coordinator - MCA 212

Andrew Burlingame, Ph.D. - McAlister (MCA) 274

Jon Laansma, Ph.D. - MCA 202

Alexander Loney, Ph.D., Section Coordinator - MCA 208

Sheri Abel, Ph.D.Section Coordinator - McAlister (MCA) 258

Alan Savage, Ph.D. - MCA 260

Melissa Elliot, Ph.D., Section Coordinator - McAlister (MCA) 256

Rose Wang, M.A., Section Coordinator - McAlister (MCA) 276

Sharenda Barlar, M.A. - McAlister (MCA) 218

Maria Garcia, M.A. - MCA 252

Stephanie Gates, Ph.D.Section Coordinator - MCA 250

Christine Goring Kepner, Ed.D. - MCA 234

Tim Klingler, Ph.D. - MCA 238

Nestor Quiroa, Ph.D. - MCA 222

Tamara Townsend, Ph.D., - MCA 220

About Modern and Classical Languages at Wheaton

All of our majors and minors can be paired to great success with any other major on campus. If your schedule has room for 20-credit hours, a minor can still be easily achieved in any of our programs. Both are viable options for opening up new worlds in any course of study.

  • Classical Languages: Classical language study opens and equips the mind for almost any future path of life. You will engage with the worlds from which Western civilization derives, acquiring skills and disciplines that empower the intellect and sharpen the mind. You can also consider the Certificate in Latin for Classical Christian Education, housed in the Classical Languages section.
  • French: In French courses, you will increase your understanding of the historical, philosophical, religious, and artistic development of French and Francophone cultures, and empathy for Francophone peoples. Knowledge of French opens the doors of companies in France and in other French-speaking parts of the world (Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, and North and sub-Saharan Africa).
  • German: The German Studies minor equips you for diverse occupations such as business, international relations, politics, theology, philosophy, science, technology, engineering, music, literature, and media. Germany is the most populous member of the European Union and plays a key role in international trade, US employment, the G8, the G20, and NATO, and has made major contributions to literature and film.
  • Latin American and Latina/o Studies: The Latin American and Latina/o Studies (LALS) program prepares students to flourish in the vibrant and increasingly interconnected Americas. The LALS major consists of 36 hours of coursework including an introduction to Latin American and Latina/o Studies, Spanish language courses, electives from multiple disciplines and departments, a senior capstone seminar, and one semester of study abroad in Latin America. 
  • Chinese Language and Culture: Wheaton offers you the chance to explore the most widely spoken language in the world under the guidance of instructors who are intimately familiar with the needs of North American foreign language learners. For students interested in majoring in business at Wheaton, developing conversational ability in Chinese significantly increases professional marketability.
  • Spanish: The Spanish program offers a rich array of courses at all levels on campus and in study-abroad programs in Spain, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Students who choose to study Spanish increase their appreciation and empathy for the peoples of Hispanic cultures through classroom instruction and personal interaction with native speakers of Spanish in the United States and abroad.

Double majoring with MCL is also a popular option among Wheaton students. About 1/3 (32%) of the total number of double majors choose a language as the major to pair with any other major on campus. Like them, you too can add a valuable global edge to your undergraduate education via studying a modern or classical language.

Language study in Wheaton’s programs are far more than only learning the grammar and verb conjugations, or even the histories and cultures of your chosen language—although it certainly includes all these things. Better, as you are mentored by our faculty and nurtured by our close-knit student community, you will also explore challenging questions regarding the ways your identity as a Christian is shaped by culture.

Courses in the Classical Languages section introduce students to the various cultures and civilizations of the Ancient Near East, from the Neolithic through the Koiné periods, while courses in the modern languages introduce students to the issues and lifestyles of contemporary society.

In today’s global context, knowing a second language and studying abroad are a plus to any employer. Through Wheaton’s Christian liberal arts focus, you’ll become proficient in areas that will help you stand out from the crowd—including a nimble, thoughtful, global articulation of your faith.

From internships to language-specific honors societies; to scholarship opportunities and French, German, Spanish, and Chinese clubs, each of our programs offers its own special opportunities to get involved, pursue your academic calling, and find community on campus.

Off-campus, you can follow your chosen language in any number of our exciting study abroad programs in Chinese, French, German, and Spanish — each of which includes the generous hospitality of host families and the chance to build relationships with Christians from other cultural contexts. Studying abroad with your Wheaton professors and classmates is the key way to learn how to translate your own faith and see God, yourself, and your culture through the eyes of others.

The Certificate in Latin for Classical Christian Education provides students with a specialized interdisciplinary education for teaching Latin in a classical Christian environment. The program proceeds from the belief that the best preparation to be a teacher of Latin in a Christian school is the intensive reading and analyzing of the monumental works of Latin literature with an eye to how they communicate the great ideas of the past to us today. One unique feature of Wheaton’s program is that it seeks to integrate Christian faith and classical learning, to ask whether and how Christ and the Christian virtues might be found in the (pre-Christian) classical world. Upon completing this program, students will have a broad training to prepare them to be teachers of Latin and the classical tradition in primary and secondary schools.


Consult the course catalog for full listing of current courses available in this field.

Timothy Klingler

Possible Careers for Modern and Classical Language Majors

A language degree offers a great amount of flexibility for career choices. The Center for Vocation and Career would be happy to partner with you to explore the variety of choices available to you.

Here are just a few of the possible career fields you might consider: 

  • Business (Domestic and International)
  • Entrepreneur
  • Diplomacy/Government Organizations
  • Education
  • Foreign Service
  • Humanitarian Aid/Non-Profit Organizations
  • Human Resources
  • International Law
  • Interpretation/Translation
  • Journalism/Writer
  • Medical/Healthcare
  • Ministry/Missions
  • Public Relations
  • Social Work
  • Software Engineering/IT
  • Veterinary Science

"I have used French in so many ways since Wheaton. After graduating, I worked as an interpreter for a while with asylum-seekers. In law school, I worked as a research assistant with a professor, translating constitutions from French to English (Gabon, Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire etc...). I have travelled to several international institutions where French is an official language. Even domestic employers have looked favorably at my candidacy for positions based on my language abilities."   - Angélique Salib '11

"I earned my Master's in Divinity from Yale Divinity School, where my facility with German was especially helpful in my study of church history and Biblical studies." Astrid, German major, '97


Being able to read Greek, Hebrew, and Latin with ease gave me a real leg up in my doctoral and post-doctoral work and expedited my studies in a variety of other modern languages. — Christopher Hays '02
Learning a language and using it in a real context abroad for the major is an incredible experience! You get to dive deep into another culture and open up opportunities that you might not have otherwise. Being bilingual has qualified me for jobs and internships (abroad and domestic) that I would never have been able to consider had I not learned another language. — Danielle Ely '18
The Spanish major has surprised and challenged me...I was expecting to solely improve my fluency in the language (which I did). However, more importantly, in my Spanish classes at Wheaton College, I learned about what it means to live justly, celebrate diversity, and work towards reconciliation of Christ’s Kingdom. — Christine Schlais '18