School of Humanities and Social Sciences
HSS is the cornerstone of St. Mary's liberal arts and Marianist education. With more than 20 disciplines to choose from, this is the largest school on campus.
In the Department of Languages at St. Mary’s University, students learn to think critically and write clearly about an array of literary, linguistic and cultural topics. These skills are strong preparation for careers in education, government, international business or for graduate and doctoral studies.
Programs in the Department of Languages
Additional Language Courses
In addition to Portuguese and Spanish program courses, the Languages Department also provides two other language course options. The additional language courses are not available as a major or minor, but first and second year courses are available in the following languages:
Germany is a financial leader of Europe and therefore a major player in world economic matters. St. Mary’s business students are offered several business programs in German-speaking nations: one in Innsbruck, Austria and another in the small German town of Schmalkalden, where they can expand their knowledge of U.S and international business, German language and German culture and history. While knowledge of German language is not a prerequisite, it is certainly helpful to have taken some German at the main campus and know that one can go out into the town and get to know the locals and practice what was learned in the classroom.
St. Mary’s students are offered summer law courses and undergraduate and graduate business courses in Innsbruck, Austria, a German-speaking nation. Again, knowledge of German language can only enhance a student’s experience in a foreign country, in addition to giving the locals a better image of Americans.
Music majors will necessarily study the great German masters and voice students know that proper interpretation of music depends upon knowing what the words mean and being able to pronounce and intonate properly. Over the years, students have approached the German language faculty to consult with us about proper pronunciation of German music they are presenting in both private and public performances.
Besides those above-mentioned programs in Schmalkalden and Innsbruck, St. Mary’s students have participated in a number of programs at other German institutions, including universities in Berlin, Heidelberg, Frankfurt and Munich. All have returned with a greater appreciation of the necessity of understanding our global interconnectedness and are enthusiastically recruiting fellow students to take advantage of the world of opportunities available to the St. Mary’s community.
Each of us has had the chance to see, or to use, abbreviations such as “i.e”, or “etc.”, which stand for, respectively, “that is” and “all the other things (of the same kind).” Daily we commonly use “a.m.” or “p.m.” to indicate the hours, knowing that the first refers to the morning (ante meridiem = before the mid-day), and the second to the afternoon (post meridiem = after the mid-day). These are all Latin expressions, which have been incorporated into our daily lives and our useful vocabulary.
Latin, the language of ancient Romans, is not a dead language; rather, it is alive in our daily usage. Indeed, Latin is present even in the English language. Take the English word “student,” for instance: it comes from the Latin “studens” meaning “the one who studies”. And, as we know, Latin survives through modern languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Catalán, Galician, etc.
A solid knowledge of Latin will guarantee a faster and more thorough learning of any other language, especially the Romance languages. More importantly, since language is one of the ways we use to communicate thought, Latin is particularly suited to help us reflect upon and understand the ways in which the original speakers of Latin, people who lived in ancient Rome, organized their thoughts, beliefs and values. Latin is, in other words, the linguistic decodification of a civilization. Since so many of our political, legal, and cultural institutions derive from foundations established in Roman civilization, studying Latin helps us to deeply understand our own present world. Indeed, in terms of both pure language and expression of a culture, Latin constitutes one of the basic roots of what we know today as Western Civilization. This is the reason why, despite the wrong reputation of being a dead language, Latin is widely studied. In Texas it is the fourth most studied language.
St. Mary’s offers classes in Latin, but not a major or minor.
The Language Department encourages study abroad to students of all majors. Studying abroad can help students reach requirements for any of the majors, minors or certificates in Languages.
Study abroad programs sponsored by St. Mary’s include the Semester in Spain program, the Semester Exchange Program in Brazil, a summer program in Japan and the Southern Cone Studies Certificate Program in Brazil, or Argentina and Chile. The department also aids students looking to participate in other study abroad programs.
Studying abroad gives students first-hand experience with other cultures and languages and helps them develop the cross-cultural communication skills valued by many employers.
St. Mary’s University has a spring semester at the Universidad de Alcala de Henares outside of Madrid, Spain. Part of the program was designed to give prospective teachers a cultural experience. All Teacher Certification students are encouraged to participate in the Spain Semester abroad.
The mission of the Department of Languages is to offer a broad, liberal education that enables students to read analytically, think critically and write clearly in dealing with literature, linguistics and culture. A degree in Languages provides students with tools to function effectively in different linguistic, cultural and professional contexts, thus enabling them to become leaders for the common good.