Foreign Languages


Spanish, the official language in 21 countries (including Puerto Rico), has at least 3 million native speakers in a total of 44 countries, and is ranked the fourth most widely spoken language behind English (112 countries), French (60), and Arabic (57) (Ethnologue). However, according to studies published by the Instituto Cervantes, with 329 million native Spanish-speakers, Spanish has reached the second most spoken language in the world after Chinese in terms of number of native speakers, currently exceeding English by 1 million. The U.S. has more than 41 million native Spanish speakers and 11.6 million who are bilingual, bringing the nation’s Spanish-speaking population to over 52 million. This makes it the second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico. Additionally, the states of New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas have the highest concentrations: 38 percent of California’s population is Spanish-speaking. It is predicted that by 2050, the U.S. could have more Spanish-speakers than any other country. With these facts in mind, it is essential to make Spanish-language study a possibility for Biola’s students through the Spanish program.

G.E. Spanish Curriculum

To help students meet the general education foreign language requirement, and as a foundation for upper-level Spanish language study, the Department of Modern Languages offers three semesters of Spanish similar to the three-semester sequence of other offered languages. These three courses are: Elementary Spanish 101, Elementary Spanish 102, and Intermediate Spanish 201. This course of study alone will allow you to satisfy the G.E. foreign language requirement with Spanish, and will begin to prepare you to live, work and serve in a country where Spanish is spoken. Additionally, this course of study prepares students to broaden their Biola Spanish language education to interact with advanced grammar, vocabulary, conversation, composition, Spanish-American literature, Latin-American faith and culture, drama and history.

Spanish Major

A Bachelor of Arts in Spanish is conferred upon the completion of the university baccalaureate with a Spanish major in one of the 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. Please visit the Spanish major information page for concentration course requirements.

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.


The Modern Languages Department is pleased to offer classes in French ranging from the elementary level to Conversational French. The courses are taught primarily in French and will introduce you to a full range of competencies in French, from basic language to culture and idioms.

  • 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 5 continents.
  • With English, French is an official working language of UNESCO, NATO, OECD, the International Labor Bureau, The International Olympic Committee, the European Council, the European Community, the International Red Cross.
  • French is the language spoken in Quebec, the 6th largest trading partner of the U.S., and is the foreign language spoken in Canada, the largest trading partner of the U.S.
  • From 2003 to 2008 the U.S. did one billion dollars of transactions with France per day.
  • French is spoken in 1.9 million American homes, according to the 2000 census.
  • Historically, France was the United States' first ally, and France played an essential role in shaping American history and society.
  • France is a major source today of intellectual capital; scholarly research continues to come out of France in the humanities and social sciences as well as in the sciences and technological fields.
  • Knowledge of French will help you on graduate school applications.

Students desiring to enroll in French should do so during their freshman and sophomore years. It is impossible to complete the requirements for general education (B.A. degree) if one starts in the senior year. Students with high school French should consult with the department to confirm placement.


  • Russian is the language spoken by 300 million people in Russia and Central Asia (16 countries). It 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 countries of the C.I.S. 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.
  • Russian was the language of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pasternak, and Solzhenitsyn.
  • Many former Biola students have found themselves working, living, and serving in places where Russian is the primary language.
  • Russia is a place YOU want to visit to expand your mind and experience another culture!


  • 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 U.S. comes to San Diego County.
  • You will learn basic Arabic, then move to Intermediate and, finally, to reading and writing the language through advanced Arabic.
  • You will learn spoken vocabulary recognition, techniques for independent learning, and experience first-hand, immersion opportunities in Middle-Eastern cultural settings through field trips.
  • You will learn colloquial/dialectical Arabic phrases helpful for everyday use, and for communicating the truths of the Bible.
  • You will experience both the richness, and intended context of the Bible in its original language, and you will listen to and comprehend basic oral exchanges that pertain primarily to spontaneous face-to-face conversations.

Students desiring to enroll in Arabic should do so during their freshman and sophomore years. It is impossible to complete the requirements for general education (B.A. degree) if one starts in the senior year. Students with any previous training in Arabic should consult with the department to confirm placement.


  • With 100 million speakers, German is a leading world language. German is the official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. German is the second most popular language to learn in the EU and ranks among the top 10 most frequently languages spoken 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.
  • German language is important to academic study in theology, history, philosophy, literature, the arts, and science. Knowledge of German gives you an advantage in graduate school applications and in your pursuit of your post-graduate degree.
  • German will give you access to the cultural and scientific world. German winners of the Nobel Prize include 27 Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, 15 in Medicine, 22 in Physics, 7 in Literature, 4 Nobel Peace Prizes and 1 in Economic Sciences.
  • German is the language of Goethe, Kafka, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Mozart, Beethoven, Luther, Marx, Freud and Einstein.
  • You will increase your opportunities to travel, research, and study in Germany by learning German. Over 200,000 foreign students study in 350 well-know German institutions of higher learning each year, and you could be one of them!

American Sign Language

  • There are multiple Sign Language systems in the United States alone, as well as the rest of the world, but American Sign Language 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 national 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/spoken languages can.
  • It is more than just "signed English" or a kind of short-hand. ASL is distinct from any other language, and like spoken languages it comprises many accents or dialects depending on region. Preparation and study at the University level will prepare students to communicate with ASL speakers throughout the world, while recognizing and appreciating the diversity of dialects.
  • The quickest way to learn ASL is immersion in the language. Classroom time, with real practice among professors and students, offers ASL learners an experience incomparably more valuable than learning from DVDs or Textbooks alone.
  • Students majoring in Education, Communication and Communication Disorders will find ASL a valuable tool in major-related careers. As a means of communication, ASL equips Biola's students with the ability impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Students desiring to enroll in American Sign Language should do so during their freshman and sophomore years. It is impossible to complete the requirements for general education (B.A. degree) if one starts in the senior year. Students with any previous training in American Sign Language should consult with the department to confirm placement.