Department of Modern Languages and Cultures

Committed to educating the whole person, our mission is to create future professionals concerned with social justice and equip them with adequate skills for practice domestically and abroad.


Our programs in Chinese, French, Japanese and Spanish provide students with:

  • language proficiency and essential skills to establish meaningful personal and intellectual connections with a global community,
  • the knowledge, tools, and experiences to broaden their view of the world,
  • the ability to be inclusive, treat others with dignity and make a difference by learning to communicate with and appreciate other cultures and
  • intercultural cooperation proficiencies

Learning about other cultures and civilizations through their language leads to a better understanding of one's self and the world in which we live. This process has a profound impact on its learners as:

  • It challenges students to articulate their thoughts and convey meaning in another language.
  • Students start to reflect on their position in society, and that of others, which allows them to respectfully engage their community locally and globally.
  • Students develop the ability to put themselves in the shoes of people that come from different backgrounds, thus becoming empathic and compassionate. Students are able to understand the experiences of people from other countries that live in the United States who may have difficulties navigating the English language.
  • It allows students to travel the world and embrace it with confidence and joy.

Language Challenge Exams

Offered to current Seattle University students to determine which language level class is appropriate. Successful completion of these exams may satisfy all or part of the College of Arts and Sciences requirement of one year of proficiency in a modern language. However, no Seattle University credit is awarded.

Hear From Our Alumni

Photo of Michelle Nurzhanov waving at photographer

Michelle Nurzhanov

As a non-heritage speaker, I am honored by my Spanish professors’ patience and kindness in teaching me their native language and correcting my errors. Reading Gabriel García-Márquez in the original Spanish text and writing entire literary analyses in Spanish have been the most challenging assignments at SU. I now have a keyboard setting to type accent marks, a few books written entirely in Spanish, and a desire to travel to Latin America to see the places in my textbooks in real life.

BA, Spanish & Design, '23, 2023 Michels Family Award