Learning a new language widens your perspectives and deepens your appreciation for other peoples and cultures. As a student preparing for your future, knowing another language will enhance your relationships with people of diverse backgrounds, prepare you for further study and academic research and better equip you to serve or travel overseas.
At Biola, your undergraduate degree includes a foreign language requirement. General education classes require 12 credits in a foreign language,* all of which must be completed in the same language. Biola offers language classes in Spanish, French, German, American Sign Language, Russian, Arabic, Greek and Hebrew.
Because of the nature of learning a foreign language, all students are strongly encouraged to satisfy their language requirement during their first or second year. If you’ve previously studied or trained in a language while in high school, you can consult with the Department of Modern Languages to determine your placement. For more details on placement and foreign language opportunities, please consult Biola’s academic catalog.
*The foreign language requirement is determined by the degree (i.e. B.A. or B.S.) you are pursuing and your level of proficiency in a second language.
- With 329 million native Spanish-speakers, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world (after Chinese) in terms of number of native speakers, currently exceeding English by 1 million (Source: Instituto Cervantes).
- In the United States, there are more than 41 million native Spanish speakers and 11.6 million bilingual Spanish speakers, bringing the nation’s Spanish-speaking population to over 52 million, making the United States the second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico.
- California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas have the highest concentrations of Spanish speakers. In California, 38 percent of the population is Spanish-speaking. It is predicted that by 2050, the United States will have more Spanish-speakers than any other country. Spanish is the official language in 21 countries, with at least 3 million native speakers in 44 countries and is ranked the fourth most widely spoken language behind English, French and Arabic (Source: Ethnologue).
What Spanish courses are offered at Biola?
For students looking to fulfill the general education foreign language requirement, or seeking a foundation for upper-level Spanish language study, the department offers three semesters of Spanish, including Elementary Spanish 101, Elementary Spanish 102 and Intermediate Spanish 201.
Successful completion of these three courses will satisfy the foreign language requirement and will prepare you to live, work and serve in a country where Spanish is spoken. This course of study will also prepare you to broaden your Spanish language education to interact with advanced grammar, vocabulary, conversation, composition, Spanish-American literature, Latin-American faith and culture, drama and history.
Thinking about a major in Spanish?
You can receive a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish by majoring in Spanish and selecting one of three concentrations: Generalist in Spanish, Professional Spanish and Spanish for Secondary Education. All students are expected to maintain a portfolio with the department that will cumulatively showcase their progressive language development over time; the portfolio will also provide students the opportunity to integrate faith and discipline. For concentration course requirements, visit the degree page for Spanish. All Spanish majors are strongly encouraged to take HUFS 299 Travel Practicum, HUFS 334 Community Spanish and/or to study abroad for a semester. See the Department of Modern Languages for more information.
- After English, French is the second most frequently taught foreign language worldwide.
- There are 28 countries that maintain French as their official language.
- Except for English, French is the only other world language in common use on five continents.
- French is spoken in 1.3 million American homes, according to the 2010 Census.
- With English, French is an official working language of UNESCO, NATO, OECD, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the International Olympic Committee, the European Council, the European Community and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Why study French at Biola?
Aside from its wide use, as demonstrated by the quick facts listed above, you should study French because you can take a range of classes — from the elementary level to conversational French. Courses are primarily taught in language and will introduce you to a full range of competencies, from basic language to culture and idioms.
- With 100 million speakers, German is a leading world language. It is the official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. It is the second most popular language to learn in the EU and ranks among the top 10 most frequently spoken languages in the world. It plays an important role as a foreign language in many countries, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. Almost 20 million people learn German worldwide.
- Germany has the largest economy in Europe and the third largest in the world. Knowing German will give you an edge in the job market.
- Knowing German is important in the academic study of theology, history, philosophy, literature, the arts and science, and will provide an advantage in graduate school applications in your pursuit of a post-graduate degree.
- German is the language of historical greats including Goethe, Kafka, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Mozart, Beethoven, Luther, Marx, Freud and Einstein.
Why study German at Biola?
German is a useful language for commerce as well as academia. Like Spanish and French, German is often one of the accepted languages for graduate school programs with a language requirement. As mentioned above, it’s also important in the academic study of a variety of areas — from theology and philosophy to the arts and the sciences.
- Russian is a language spoken by 300 million people in Russia and Central Asia, totaling 16 countries, and has been cited as the fourth most influential world language.
- Russia is the home of many unreached people groups, and Russian is the lingua franca, or language of interaction, among former Soviet Republics, whose national languages are spoken within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) but not generally known or studied abroad.
- Russian history and politics have played a defining role in international relations since the early twentieth century and will continue to do so.
- Russia is a land of historical and cultural depth, a major center of Orthodox Christianity, land of the Romanovs and the Kremlin, and the language of literary greats including Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pasternak and Solzhenitsyn.
Why study Russian at Biola?
Russian is a useful language to know whether you pursue intercultural work among unreached people groups or engage in international relations. The department offers three semesters of Russian language and culture, pending enrollment demands and faculty, with a focus on cultural content, vocabulary and grammar.
- The Arab World consists of 25 countries and territories with a combined population of 358 million people straddling North Africa and Western Asia.
- Today, an estimated 3.5 million Arabs and Arab Americans live in the United States. About one in four Iraqi refugees arriving in the United States reside in the County of San Diego.
Why study Arabic at Biola?
Few other Christian universities, especially in California, offer Arabic as a language for study. In these classes, you will build basic language skills by studying vocabulary, grammar and cultural content. You will learn colloquial Arabic phrases, or expressions often used in certain dialects, that will be helpful for everyday use and to communicate scriptural truths. You’ll also have opportunities to immerse yourself in Middle Eastern cultural settings through field trips. The department offers three semesters of Arabic, pending enrollment demands and faculty.
American Sign Language
- There are multiple sign language systems in the United States alone, and worldwide, but American Sign Language (ASL) is the majority choice of deaf adults. Learning ASL will enable you to communicate with the widest range of sign language speakers.
- According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation, there are 1 million functionally deaf adults in the United States alone.
- ASL is a dynamic language, developing and expanding all the time. It also communicates more visually than written or spoken languages can.
- It is more than just "signed English" or a kind of shorthand. ASL is distinct from any other language, and like spoken languages, it comprises many accents or dialects depending on the region.
Why should you learn American Sign Language?
Preparation and study at the university level will prepare you to communicate with ASL speakers throughout the world and help you recognize and appreciating the diversity of dialects.The quickest way to learn ASL is through language immersion. Classroom time that involves real practice with other students and professors will provide an incomparably richer learning experience than to learn from DVDs or textbooks alone.
Students majoring in education, communication studies, or communication sciences and disorders will find ASL a valuable tool in major-related careers. As a means of communication, ASL will equip you in making an impact on the world for Christ.
You can study the Bible in the the language it was written. Greek and Hebrew are offered by the Department of Biblical and Theological Studies, an undergraduate division of Biola’s Talbot School of Theology. In either language, whether it’s Hebrew for the Old Testament, or Greek for the New Testament, you will learn the language’s grammar and syntax. You will also learn how to use helpful tools for more in-depth study and interpretation of the Scriptures. By taking 12 units of either language, you can fulfill your foreign language requirement.
Upon the successful completion of the four-course sequence in either language, you should be able to read and translate the original text using standard lexical and grammar tools, explain the text’s basic grammatical and syntactical features, accurately exegete a biblical text and undertake further language-based research in biblical and related background material. In short, you’ll be prepared to enjoy an enriched study of God’s Word in a language in which it was written, and you’ll also have the tools you need to pursue further studies in the biblical and theological disciplines.