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Foreign Languages and Literatures

    Foreign Languages and Literatures
    Foreign Languages and Literatures
    Foreign Languages


Foreign Languages and Literatures has expanded. The main department remains in Major Williams Hall, but a portion of our faculty is housed in the Liberal Arts Building (formerly known as the Performing Arts Building) located next door.

We are a department of over 55 people working together for the education of students who want to use foreign languages and literatures and for research on a wide range of international topics. We teach over 3600 students annually and offer twelve languages: here students can study Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, ancient Greek, modern Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish. We offer majors in Classical Studies, French, German, Russian, and Spanish and minors in these areas as well as Classical languages, Business French and Latin. Students will encounter excellent teachers (many of our faculty have won teaching awards) and researchers who are at the cutting edge of their fields. Approximately 300 students major in a language and over 600 have a minor.


FLL Orientation Information

General Orientation Information
Advising by Language

Advising information by language:

During the summer, the contact person for the following languages will be Dr. Jaqueline Bixler (

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Hebrew

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • When can I declare a major or a minor?
    We normally accept the change of major or minor form any time other than the first week of fall and spring semesters. Fill out the Change of Major/Minor form here and turn it in to 238 Wallace  Hall.
  • What languages can I major in?
    Classics (Latin and ancient Greek), French, German, Russian and Spanish.
  • What languages can I minor in?
    Classics, Latin, French, business French, German, Russian, or Spanish.
  • Can I major or minor in Arabic / Chinese / Japanese / Italian?
    No. We hope to have a minor in these languages in a few years. For us to be able to offer a major or a minor in a course, we need to have the faculty to teach the courses and to have the courses officially approved. This process takes several years.
  • I've already studied a language. What level should I sign up for?
    See the Placement guide. It is best to also consult with an advisor. The Spanish program has developed its own Placement Guide HERE.
  • I would like to study a higher level of Arabic / Chinese / Japanese / Italian than what is offered. Can I do an independent study?
    In some cases instructors will consent to do an independent study, but this is the exception. Independent studies are very time intensive for faculty. You can check with the faculty member to see but please do not be disappointed if she or he says no. Some instructors receive many such requests. In some cases, more advanced courses may be available through the 4-VA Initiative which offers distance-learning classes. See the department's web page for offerings.
  • I am interested in study abroad.
    Our department offers a wide variety of programs. You should also consult the Education Abroad office.
  • The course I want to take is full. What do I do?
    If you wish to get into a full first-year class, you should attend the class and continue to go to Hokie SPA to see if a seat opens up. Instructors will not be signing force ads. We automatically drop students who are absent either the first or second day of classes. This makes room for other students wishing to add the class. Students will add classes on a first-come, first-serve basis as students are dropped from class. Many seats open up through this process. We urge students to be persistent online about getting into classes. The Spanish program has a slightly different policy.
  • I do not have the prerequisite(s) for a course. Should I sign up anyway?
    No. Prerequisites are there to help the student. Our curricula are structured so that each level builds upon the preceding one. If you do not have the prerequisites(s), then you do not have the skills you need to succeed in the course you would like to take. If you are unsure, you should check with an instructor.
  • I do not have the prerequisite but Hokie SPA let me add the class.
    Hokie SPA does not prevent students from signing up for a course because of the lack of prerequisites in all cases. If prerequisite checking is not in place for a given course, anyone can sign up for it.
  • Are the language courses taught in English?
    By the 2000 level, all of our courses are taught exclusively in the target language. Much of what is taught in first-year courses is in the language too. This can vary according to language as some languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese are significantly harder than others.
  • I have already studied a language. Can I get credit for it by examination?
    The Department of Foreign Language and Literatures does not offer tests for credit. It is possible to take a CLEP test to get credit in French, German or Spanish. You will need to make arrangements directly with CLEP to take the test. It is not administered by our department.

What about activities outside of the classroom?
The department offers a variety of extracurricular activities. Consult the webpage of the language program that interests you

Important Information about FLL Classes

Important information about our classes

  • Try to take a language course each semester of your studies.
  • Except for Spanish, courses ending with the number "5" are only offered in the fall. Those with "6" can only be taken in spring. This is important if you want to start a language.
    This has to be done in the fall. Courses with "4" may be offered in any semester.
  • Although 1105 and 1106 are both labeled "elementary," you must take 1105 before 1106 if you have not studied the language.
  • Spanish 1114 is an intensive elementary class for people who have already studied the language.
  • German 1114 is an intensive elementary class for people who have not studied the language.
  • If you have already studied a language in high school (or elsewhere), you cannot start over again in an elementary course and receive credit.
  • If you received credit for a 2000-level course you cannot take a 1000-level course for credit. Likewise if you have done work on the 3000 level, you cannot take for credit a 2000-level language course. (2000-level culture courses taught in English are the exception.)

If you major or minor in a language, you can use some of the courses taken for that major or minor to fulfill CLE Core Area 2 credits


Contact Information

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
331 Major Williams Hall (0225)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Phone: (540) 231-5362
Fax: (540) 231-4812

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FLL Events


  • Please join the German Culture Club in celebrating Oktoberfest! Come by the Black Cultural Center in Squires Student Center on Friday, November 6th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. to celebrate the beginning of fall in a German fashion.
  • The German Program is celebrating 25 years of German Unification. See the German Program page for details. All events free and open to the public
  • Listen to Dr. Esther Bauer's interview on public radio!

  • Spanish students do not need to take a placement test. If you are taking Spanish for the first time at VT, please consult our Spanish Placement Guide to see which class you should sign up for.

  • Minor in Italian. We are delighted to announce that a  minor in Italian has been approved! Students may sign up for the minor beginning in Spring 2015, and will be able to graduate with an Italian minor starting Spring 2016. Talk to your Italian instructor if you are interested.
  • Come and join the German Program for Kaffeeklatsch on Friday, August 28, 2015, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Major Williams Atrium (2nd floor). Bring a beverage. Cookies will be provided. For more information, contact Dr. Hofer.

Elementary Portuguese and Advanced Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese classes available

Additional Fall 2015 classes in Elementary Portuguese (PORT 1105) and Advanced Arabic (ARBC 3984), Chinese (CHN 3984) and Japanese (JPN 3984) are available to students, staff, and faculty through the 4-VA course-share system. For more information contact Jacqueline Bixler (

Student outreach programs

Outreach programs honoring the memory of Jamie Bishop and Jocelyne Couture-Nowak:
Teach for Jamie
Teach for Madame

Conversation courses for faculty and staff

Free conversation courses for faculty and staff are now offered through the Language and Culture Institute. For more information on this semester's offerings, click here.

FLL Information for Faculty and Staff

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