Learning Languages

No one language contains the sum of human knowledge. And in fact, Oberlin’s most vibrant discussions aren’t just held in English. Our language programs connect you to the larger world.

Oberlin faculty offer courses in a dozen languages (links below). In most cases, Oberlin offers language learners a full language sequence, from beginning through advanced, although in some cases offerings are more limited. Many Oberlin programs feature upper-division courses on a range of subjects taught in languages other than English, or in English and another language as part of the Languages Across the Curriculum (LxC) initiative.

Students interested in learning languages not offered through the regular course catalog are encouraged to explore the Experimental College (which in the past has offered courses in languages such as Korean, Turkish, American Sign Language, and Portuguese), to consult faculty with particular language skills (see ObieMAPS), or to discuss their options with Barbara Sawhill, the Director of the Cooper International Learning Center and Ellen Sayles, Director of Programs for International Study.

Contents: Arabic | Chinese | Classics: Ancient Greek & Latin | French | German | Modern Hebrew | Italian | Japanese | Russian | Spanish

Arabic

Number of speakers: 223 million

Where is Arabic spoken? Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, The United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

What’s available at Oberlin? Minor in Middle East North Africa Studies. Courses offered in introductory and intermediate Arabic, as well as topical courses on Arab culture and society. Affiliated study abroad programs in Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan.

Contact: Middle East North Africa Studies Curricular Committee

Chinese

Number of speakers: 1.21 billion

Where is Chinese spoken? Brunei, Malaysia, Palau, People’s Republic of China, Singapore, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam.

What’s available at Oberlin? Interdisciplinary major and minor combining Chinese language with literature, religion, history, politics, and anthropology. Students may live in Asia House, a program house for students interested in Asian and Asian American cultures, and eat at Chinese language tables. Affiliated study abroad programs in Beijing, Harbin, Hangzhou, and Kunming. Honors program.

Contact: Department of East Asian Studies

Classics: Ancient Greek and Latin

What’s available at Oberlin? Majors in Classical Civilization, Greek Language and Literature, and Latin Language and Literature. Minors in Greek and Latin. Concentration available in Classical Archaeology. Affiliated study abroad programs in Rome, Orvieto, and Athens. Visiting scholars presented by the Charles Beebe Martin Classical Lectures series. Honors program.

Contact: Department of Classics

French

Number of speakers: 220-300 million

Where is French spoken? Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Laos, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Monaco, Morocco, Niger, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Vanuatu, Vatican City, and Vietnam. French is an official language of 29 countries.

What’s available at Oberlin? Major and minor in French and Francophone Studies. Students may live in La Maison Francophone, a French-speaking residence hall, and eat at Chez Nous, the French dining room in Stevenson. Affiliated study abroad programs in France, Senegal and Belgium. Honors program.

Contact: Department of French and Italian

German

Number of speakers: 90 million

Where is German spoken? Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Namibia, Romania, and Switzerland. German was an official language of Namibia until 1990.

What’s available at Oberlin? Majors in German Literature or German Studies. Minor in German. Students may live in the Max Kade German House, a German-speaking residence hall, and eat at the German-speaking table in Stevenson. The Max Kade German Writer-in-Residence program brings a prominent German, Austrian, or Swiss author to Oberlin every fall semester. Affiliated study abroad programs in Berlin, Dresden, Marburg, Munich, and Vienna. Honors program.

Contact: Department of German Language and Literatures

Modern Hebrew

Number of speakers: 5 million

Where is Hebrew spoken? Israel.

What’s available at Oberlin? Major and minor in Jewish Studies, with a concentration in history or religion. Courses offered in elementary and intermediate Modern Hebrew. Students may live in Johnson House, a residential program house for Jewish Studies. Affiliated study abroad opportunities throughout Israel. Honors program.

Contact: Department of Jewish Studies

Italian

Number of speakers: 64 million

Where is Italian spoken? Argentina, Croatia, Italy, Libya, Monaco, San Marino, Somalia, Switzerland, and Vatican City.

What’s available at Oberlin? Italian is offered at the elementary and intermediate levels and through study abroad programs. Students may eat at the Italian table in Stevenson. Affiliated study abroad programs in Rome, Orvieto, Siena, and Florence.

Contact: Department of French and Italian

Japanese

Number of speakers: 123 million

Where is Japanese spoken? Japan, Marshall Islands, and Palau.

What’s available at Oberlin? Interdisciplinary major and minor combining Japanese language with literature, religion, history, politics, and anthropology. Students may live in Asia House, a program house for students interested in Asian and Asian American cultures, and eat at Japanese language tables. Affiliated study abroad programs in Kyoto, Hirakata, and Tokyo. Honors program.

Contact: Department of East Asian Studies

Russian

Number of speakers: 166 million

Where is Russian spoken? Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine.

What’s available at Oberlin? Majors in Russian or Russian and Eastern European Studies (REES). Students may live in Russian House and eat at Russian language tables. The Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies (OCREECAS) provides students with internship, study abroad and employment opportunities, cultural activities, and region-specific resources. Affiliated study abroad programs in St. Petersburg, Irkutsk, Moscow, Vladimir, and Yaroslavl. Honors program.

Contact: Department of Russian Language, Literature, and Culture

Spanish

Number of speakers: 329 million

Where is Spanish spoken? Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

What’s available at Oberlin? Major and minor in Hispanic Studies, with a focus on language, literature and culture. Students may live in La Casa Hispanica, a Spanish-speaking residence hall, and eat at Spanish language tables at El Rincon Latino in Stevenson. Affiliated study abroad opportunities in Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador. Honors program. See the La Feria Latina for a list of ways to engage with Spanish at Oberlin.

Contact: Department of Hispanic Studies