About the Modern Languages and Literatures Department
Students who consider taking courses in MLL can decide to begin a language they have never before studied, or to continue a language they have already studied or learned elsewhere. While it is possible to major in a language that one has started to learn at Kenyon, many of our majors have had prior experience in their chosen language. We strongly recommend that our majors and other advanced students spend one, preferably two semesters of their junior year studying in a country where the language is spoken. Kenyon students participate in a wide array of study abroad programs that have been pre-approved by the College, information on which can be found in the Office of International Education. While our three principal majors are French, German, and Spanish/Latin American literature, students may also choose a major that does not have an exclusively literary focus. They may do this by selecting an "Area Studies" major in French, German, or Spanish, in which advanced courses in the language are complemented by courses taken in other departments such as history, political science, art history, or philosophy that allow for study of the target culture, using texts in the original. We also have a modern languages option for the major, in which students study both a primary and secondary language. While it is not possible to major in Chinese, Italian, Japanese or Russian, one can minor in any of those four languages, or select one them as the second language of a modern language major. In exceptional cases, students who have taken a year's worth of advanced courses in one of those four languages while studying abroad can petition the department for permission to use it as the first language in the modern languages major.
The most important feature of our beginning and intermediate language classes is the Kenyon Intensive Language Method or KILM. All beginning classes (except for Arabic) are taught intensively, meaning that the class meets four to five times a week and students earn more academic credit than for a regular course. In addition, students meet three to four times a week with an "Apprentice Teacher", a fellow student who is fluent in the language, and who is trained and selected through one of our twice-yearly workshops. The use of "peer teaching" greatly enhances the effectiveness of the first-year class. Students who have already studied a language before coming to Kenyon have the opportunity of becoming "Apprentice Teachers" themselves, an experience that our students have found to be one of the most valuable aspects of their undergraduate careers.