Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Chair: Margaret Stefanski, PhD


Our primary mission is to instill an awareness of language as an essential element of our thought processes, perceptions, and self-expressions. As recent world events have demonstrated, deep cultural knowledge and linguistic competence are necessary if one wishes to understand other people and their communities. We seek to provide students with the skills and intellectual breadth needed to communicate effectively and to play an active role in today’s world. The Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures offers a Spanish major and minor, as well as instruction in Italian, and American Sign Language. Language study combines uniquely with virtually any major; but of particular interest and practicality are dual majors with International Business and Marketing, International Relations, Bilingual Education, Pre-Law. Animal and Conservation (for field research) and Biology/Pre-Med. Skills in a foreign language are often the deciding factor in an employer’s choice between our graduates and equally qualified but monolingual peers. Language majors pursue rewarding careers in medicine, law, computer science, finance,  social work, international business, government service, teaching, interpreting, and scientific research, to mention but a few of the many exciting possibilities.

Over the course of the semester, each student in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures participates in or attends two cultural events or activities outside regular class time. Please consult the department for a listing of these offerings.


Each 100 and 200 language course offered in the department must be completed with a grade of C or better in order to proceed to the next level. Any language course with a grade of C- or below must be repeated. Courses at 300 and 400 level must be completed with a grade of C- or above. A placement exam, in combination with high school language experience, IB or AP exam scores, etc. will determine initial placement in the course sequences. The following courses must generally be completed in numerical sequence:  103, 104, 215, 217. 


All students should have an advisor in the major and should contact the department directly to have an advisor assigned if they do not already have one.  Meetings with academic advisors are required prior to students receiving their PIN for course registration each semester. All majors should work closely with their advisor in discussing career expectations, choosing their major electives, developing their entire academic program and planning their co-curricular or supplemental academic experiences.

 Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures majors are required to study abroad for a minimum of four consecutive weeks in a formal pre-approved program in a country where the target language is an official language. Consultation with a department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures academic advisor, and the chair, is required prior to study abroad.

Double Majors

Students who wish to expand their educational opportunities may decide to declare a double major. This decision may be based on career goals, planned graduate studies, and/or other student interests. Before a student declares a double major, it is important to meet with the appropriate academic departments for advisement.  In order to declare a double major, the student must complete the Major/Minor Declaration form. This form will be submitted electronically and reviewed and approved by each department chairperson as well as the appropriate associate dean. 

Per university policy, each additional major requires a minimum of 15 credits that do not apply to the student's first or subsequent major.  Some double major combinations can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in other cases additional course work may be required. Please note that students will receive only one degree unless completing the dual degree requirement including at least 150 undergraduate credit hours, regardless of the number of majors they complete. Both (all) majors appear on a student’s transcript.

Additional information about dual majors is provided in the Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures' curriculum information.

Minors in Other Disciplines

Minors provide students the opportunity to pursue additional interests but generally do not require as many courses as a major.  Minors generally range from five to eight required courses. To receive a minor, the student must complete at least 9 credit hours of coursework distinct from their other credentials (i.e., majors, other minors). The complete list of minors is available on the Canisius website and in the catalog and provides links to each minor. Some majors and minors can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional coursework may be required. Students must complete the appropriate minor request form.

Native Speakers

Students who are native speakers of Spanish may pursue a major or minor in their native language.  These students usually begin at the 300-level language courses; the number of courses required, as well as study abroad is generally the same.  We encourage heritage speakers of Spanish to consult with us, as we have had many who have found success and a home within our department, and several have worked with us running tertulias and other immersive experiences.

Native speakers of languages other than English may receive a language requirement waiver for other programs requiring a certain level of language proficiency if they are able to provide documentation of their native speaker status. Examples of documents include, but are not limited to, a school diploma received from a country where the language of instruction is not English or an internationally recognized examination certifying language abilities.

The Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Department offers a Spanish major and minor and introductory coursework in Italian and American Sign Language.


Study abroad is required for any language major and encouraged for minors. In addition to programs of study abroad offered through the Study Abroad Office, the department offers the following study abroad and faculty led programs:


The language minor is an interdisciplinary program aimed at developing Intermediate language skills and broad cultural understandings. It is designed with flexibility in order to accommodate students’ personal and professional interests. Language and cultural studies minors prove to be important assets when seeking employment or applying to graduate schools. It also provides an incentive for students to study in upper division language and literature courses. Students who reach the intermediate level of Spanish have the opportunity of studying in Mexico, Cuba, Spain and other parts of the globe.

Students must complete six courses for Language and Culture Minor programs in Spanish.

Up to two of these courses can be replaced by two pre-approved courses from other departments or colleges, taught in English or Spanish or two pre-approved courses from study abroad. Pre-approved Internships and Campus Ministry service trips may count toward a minor. All electives from other departments are subject to the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Chair's pre-approval, such as courses in PSC, LAS, IR, HIST, or HON.

Spanish (SPA)
American Sign Language (ASL)
French (FRC)

American Sign Language (ASL)

ASL 103 American Sign Language I 3 Credits

Introduction to American Sign Language (ASL), its structure, major grammatical features and language functions. Vocabulary acquisition. Captioning and telecommunication devices. Deaf cultural information. Deaf co-teacher and deaf consultants.

Offered: occasionally.

ASL 104 American Sign Language II 3 Credits

Builds on basic American Sign Language (ASL) grammar and conversational skills. Increases expressive/receptive fluency. Linguistic and cultural ASL concepts are expanded and deaf traditions studied. Deaf co-teacher and deaf consultants.

Prerequisite: ASL 103.

Offered: occasionally.

FRench (FRC)

FRC 103 Introductory French I                                                                                                                                                  3 Credits  This course is intended for students with little or no knowledge of the French language and starts at an elementary level. The course will provide students with a basic knowledge of the grammar and structure of French with emphasis on oral communication and listening skills. Vocabulary will be introduced to enhance the everyday skills necessary for effective communication. Reading for comprehension as well as good writing skills will be stressed as an integral part of the course so as to further enhance the student’s ability to communicate.                                                                                                    Offered: fall 

FRC 104 Introductory French II                                                                                                                                                 3 Credits  Continuation of FRC 103. Reading, writing, listening and speaking. Introduction to Italian culture. Course aim is for almost exclusive use of French in class.                                                                                                               

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C in FRC 103 or permission of chair.                                                                      

Offered: spring.

FRC 215 Intermediate FRC                                                                                                                                                       3 Credits  Continued development in writing, listening, speaking and especially reading French literary and cultural material. Comprehensive grammar review. Continued aim of almost exclusive use of French in class.                       

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C in FCR 104.                                                                                                        

Offered: occasionally.