Modern Languages

Mission Statement
Baruch College Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature
The study of a variety of languages and literatures is the foundation for
developing the critical thinking and communication skills that are now more essential
than ever in a globalized world. Students take courses in the Department of Modern
Languages and Comparative Literature to learn a foreign language, to refine and develop
their skills in a language they’ve grown up speaking, and to study other cultures within a
comparatist and interdisciplinary perspective. In all cases, they understand that
knowledge of a variety of languages and familiarity with the cultures that speak them is a
key element of success in today’s globalized world. They also know that success is
measured by the ability both to command the language in its oral and written forms and
to understand the culture of other countries through the study of historical, literary and
cultural texts.
Baruch College’s highly diverse and multilingual student body is a great asset to
the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature. In our role as scholars
and teachers of language, literature and culture, we deal constantly with issues of identity
and diversity, and our department is particularly well adapted to the College priorities of
enhancing cross-cultural communication, internationalization and entrepreneurship
among our students. The wide-range of courses we have developed and the extensive
teaching experience of our full- and part-time faculty has enabled the Romance, Middle
Eastern, Asian, and Comparative Literature areas of the Department to offer electives that
complement not only other disciplines in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, but
also those taught in the School of Business and the School of Public Affairs.
The Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature prepares
students for success on several levels. For the student coming to a language for the first
time, our basic, intermediate and advanced language courses develop all skills necessary
for speaking, understanding, reading and writing in the target language and thus gaining
access to another culture. For students of Chinese and Hispanic/Latino descent who
possess mainly an oral command of their family language, we offer Chinese and Spanish
courses for heritage speakers, especially designed to improve writing and speaking skills.
As they acquire another language, students’ vocabularies are enhanced and they
learn a great deal about the nature of language itself ––parts of speech, grammar, syntax
and other elements of linguistic structure –– which they then bring to bear on their native
language. Indeed, several studies have proven that second-language acquisition improves
the student's communication skills in his or her first language.
Our literature and culture courses introduce students to a diversity of thought and
experience, teaching them to appreciate and analyze a range of different texts and media.
In the process, students gain perspective and judgment not only on the cultures they are
studying, but also on their own cultures. Each year, the Department organizes a number
of events that feature noted scholars, writers and artists from our various program areas,
so our students can meet personally with those whose works they are studying. We also
encourage students to take advantage of the many study abroad programs available to
them, so that they can use what they’ve learned in the Department’s courses as a stepping
stone out into new experiences of the world.
Finally, the Modern Languages faculty brings to the teaching of Comparative
Literature in translation an expertise in a variety of languages and fields and a knowledge
and experience of the intricacies and pitfalls of translation and transculturation that no
other department can duplicate. Our intimate contact with the original languages and our
skill in negotiating the transfer of literary meaning between languages not only adds to
our students' understanding and enjoyment of the texts they study, but enables them to
develop their own translation skills as well.