Department of Modern Languages and Literatures supports and expands in specific ways the mission of the College of Arts and Letters, which—in accordance with the mission statement of the University -- is to develop in all students “an appreciation of the variety of artistic and humanistic traditions that make up the world community, prepare students in our programs for professional success, and provide an intellectual, philosophical, and cultural foundation for personal development and effective participation in a democratic society.”
Communication is perhaps the most basic of human activities. As social beings, language is at the core of our need to process, understand, and transmit information and emotions, to function harmoniously in society, and to bond with others. In recent decades, technological advances and demographic shifts have brought about profound changes throughout the world, and especially in the United States. Peoples of diverse cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds now interact more frequently and on increasing levels of intimacy. In this context, we believe that the study of languages other than English, besides its traditional role of enriching a person’s life and contributing to a greater understanding of the individual’s place in the human family, can and should contribute to the fostering of harmony among peoples. The faculty of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures therefore believes that the study of languages other than English occupies a paramount place in the educational process.
We consider that the mission of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Cal State L.A. is to offer excellent and innovative educational opportunities to an urban student population that reflects the diversity of the Los Angeles basin. Our goal is to offer every student the opportunity to learn a language in addition to their primary language, and we offer courses in a variety of languages from the beginning to advanced levels. Our first- and second-year courses are all part of the University’s General Education program, which demonstrates the University’s support for the cultural benefits of studying another language. As part of one of the most diverse universities in the United States, our department benefits from the rich cultural and linguistic backgrounds of our students, and provides an ideal milieu for the discussion of cultural values. Our students' knowledge of modern languages and cultures makes this University more inclusive, diverse, and internationally oriented.
Our goal is also to cultivate and develop global and critical thinking through our upper-division courses, and prepare our majors for advanced studies or workforce in bilingual settings. Our B.A. programs in Chinese, French, Japanese, and Spanish provide balanced course offerings in language, literature, linguistics, and culture. By so doing, these programs allow all our majors the opportunity to gain a solid understanding of the nature of language and its intimate relationship with culture, as well as to achieve a high level of linguistic proficiency necessary for advanced studies or job opportunities using the target language. Through its Subject Matter Preparation Programs in French, Japanese, and Spanish, moreover, the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures prepares future teachers who possess a high level of linguistic and cultural proficiency, a thorough understanding of the nature and role of language in society, the confidence and knowledge that they can succeed in the profession, and finally the ability to pass their knowledge on to their own students through effective teaching strategies and the use of technology. (Please see THE SUBJECT MATTER PREPARATION PROGRAMS IN FRENCH, JAPANESE, AND SPANISH.)