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Modern and Classical Languages
Wheaton College student Danielle Ely studying abroad in France
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.

language courses

Why Study Modern and Classical Languages at Wheaton?

You’ll learn the language, history, and culture of your chosen major, for sure. But as you are mentored by our engaged and discerning faculty and nurtured by our close-knit student community, you’ll also explore challenging questions regarding the ways your identity as a Christian is shaped by culture.

Pick from study abroad programs in Chinese, FrenchGerman and Spanish — all of which include home-stays, generous hospitality of host families, and the chance to build relationships with Christians from other cultural contexts. You’ll learn to translate your own faith and see God, yourself, and your culture through the eyes of others.

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. Courses in Chinese, French, German, and Spanish introduce students to the issues and lifestyles of contemporary society in these cultures.

French, German, and Spanish sections also introduce students to the literary, historical, artistic, and religious development of the language regions via study of representative works of various literary and textual genres and related art and cultural forms.

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

What Will I Learn?

  • Classical Languages: Study Hebrew, Greek, and Latin to develop an awareness and appreciation of the languages and cultures of the ancient world through original texts. 
  • French: Become proficient in a global language. Enhance your understanding of native speech and writing while learning to communicate creatively and comprehensively. Increase your intercultural competence by studying the history and civilization of various Francophone countries and regions. 
  • German: Become proficient in Europe’s most widely spoken first language and gain an in-depth understanding of Germany, the most populous and influential member of the EU.
  • Mandarin Chinese: Explore this fascinating culture and language with instructors who are intimately familiar with the needs of North American learners. 
  • Spanish: Develop your language abilities and explore the rich variety of histories, cultures and literatures of the Spanish-speaking world.

Students in any major can complete a minor by taking 20 hours of select courses listed 300-level and above. Minors are available for the following:

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

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: 

  • Banking and Finance
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • ESL
  • Field Research
  • Government and Foreign Services
  • Hotel and Restaurant Management
  • Journalism
  • Library & Information Science
  • Linguistics
  • Publishing
  • Software Design
  • Teaching
  • Technical Translation
  • Telecommunications
  • Travel Writing
  • Travel Services
  • Web Development

"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