Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at a glance

Why Study Arabic? (From the American Association of Teachers of Arabic)

Arabic, a Semitic language with ancient roots, has been functioning as a vital written and spoken language throughout the centuries in different parts of the world. In addition to a rich literary tradition, during the Middle Ages Arabic was the main language of literature, sciences, philosophy, and theology in a large region that stretched from Spain in the West to India in the East. Thus, Arabic has had considerable influence on other languages in terms of alphabet, vocabulary, and grammar. Among the languages influenced by Arabic are Farsi, Turkish, Urdu, and others. Today Arabic is spoken by 300 million persons in over 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. As the language of the Qur’an, Arabic is used for religious rituals by over 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world. Arabic is grammatically and structurally different from English, but it is not difficult. Arabic is a very important language to learn because:

  1. Proficiency in Arabic presents a wide range of professional opportunity in various fields, such as economics and politics, in the United States and the Middle East. Arabic speakers are currently in great demand.
  2. Learning Arabic will increase awareness, understanding, and appreciation of “the other”; i.e., Arab culture and people. Knowing the Arabic language will be of great relevance to CSU students especially since the Cleveland area is considered one of the largest concentrations of Arabs or people of Middle Eastern ancestry in the United States.
  3. As the main language in the Middle East, Arabic is the primary source of media in that region. In this regard, one ought to mention the role of al-Jazeera, al-Arabiyya, and other media channels in presenting current events and burning issues that affect the Middle East as well as the Arab World.
  4. Arabic is the one of the six main languages used in the United Nations.
  5. The US Department of State offers many fellowships to learn Arabic in the United States and the Arab World.
  6. Arabic courses can be counted toward the CLASS language requirement and other minors and majors, such as Middle Eastern Studies, Classical and Medieval Studies, International Relations, and International Business.

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More than 70 Good Reasons to Study French (Adapted from the Univeristy of Tasmanis):

  • It is not limited to one or two continents.
  • French is spoken in two of the G7 countries.
  • France is the world's major tourist destination (75 million tourists a year).
  • France is Europe's foremost investor abroad.
  • France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have the lowest rates of inflation in the European Union.
  • (This is an indicator of the health of these countries.)
  • France is in 4th position in terms of world power and it does not have the debt problems facing many
  • other major industrialised nations. (A positive sign for joint projects, business and scientific co-operation.)
  • France is renowned for the quality of its high tech. (The TGV is the fastest train in the world - 515 kph)
  • French is the official language of the International Red Cross.
  • France is one of the two official languages at the Olympic Games.
  • French-speaking Africa represents an area larger than the USA.
  • French is the most widely taught second language after English.
  • French is one of the official languages of the United Nations.
  • French is a major language of high tech and business in the world.
  • Over 20,000 English words have their origins in French.
  • In terms of number of words, French is the second largest language after English.
  • France offers a range of generous scholarships to our graduate students.
  • Paris had 1,100 congresses in 1993 (including 400 international congresses) - a world record.
  • France has the world's greatest number of Nobel Prize winners in literature (12).
  • Montréal is the second largest French speaking city in the world.
  • PARIS is considered the capital of the world in terms of quality of life (Healey and Baker 1991.)
  • MEGABUCKS FOR TRADE: In 1994 the United States did business / trade with the following countries in order of importance:
  • French speaking countries;
  • Japan;
  • Spanish speaking countries.
  • Be able to fully enjoy, at the cinema or on TV, the best films from the French speaking world.
  • Learning French can help you improve the interpersonal skills you bring to your international career.
  • You can do so many more interesting things on the internet if you speak French. (There are many high quality internet sites available in French ranging from fashion to finance, society to science, music to medicine... just to mention a few.)
  • For those with the appropriate skills there are also possibilities for work in the following fields:
    • international business.
    • international agencies.
    • the tourism and hospitality industries.
    • the diplomatic service.
    • French research institutes.
    • as a teacher.
    • as a translator or interpreter.
  • And don't forget the other 43 good reasons! - French is spoken in over 43 countries in the world

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A Bunch of Reasons to Study German (Courtesy of

Meine Schwester hat braunes Haar. Sie ist intelligent. Sie studiert Medizin in Berlin. Sie kann gut singen.
  1. German is the most widely spoken language in Europe.
    More people speak German as their native language than any other language in Europe. It's no wonder, since Germany's 83 million inhabitants make it the most populous European nation. But not only the residents of Germany speak German. It is also an official language of Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein. And it is the native language of a significant portion of the population in northern Italy, eastern Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, eastern France, parts of Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Romania, as well as in other parts of Europe.

    While learning German can connect you to 120 million native speakers around the globe, remember that many people also learn German as a second language. It is the 3rd most popular foreign language taught worldwide and the second most popular in Europe and Japan, after English.
  2. Germany has the 3rd strongest economy and is the #1 export nation in the world.
    Germany has the third largest economy in the world and is the economic powerhouse of the European Union. In 2003, 2004, and again in 2005, Germans were world champions in exports. The country exported 940 billion US dollars worth of goods, just ahead of the US exports. From cars to machinery and industrial equipment, from pharmaceuticals to household goods, German businesses earn 1 in 3 euros through export, and 1 in 4 jobs depends on exports. The competetiveness and desirability of German products on the market are indicated by the country's substantial trade surplus, which reached 191 billion euros in 2005 and continues to grow every year.
    And don't forget that Switzerland, another German-speaking country, has one of the highest standards of living in the world.
  3. Knowing German creates business opportunities.
    Germany's economic strength equals business opportunities. Multinational business opportunities exist throughout the European Union and in the Eastern European countries, where German is the second most spoken language after Russian. Companies like BMW, Daimler-Chrysler, Siemens, Lufthansa, SAP, Bosch, Infineon, BASF, and many others need international partners. The Japanese, who have the 2nd most powerful economy in the world, understand the business advantages that a knowledge of German will bring them: 68% of Japanese students study German.

    If you're looking for employment in the United States, knowing German can give you great advantages. German companies account for 700,000 jobs in the United States, and US companies have created approximately the same number of jobs in Germany. All other things being equal, the job candidate with German skills will trump the one without such skills every time. Most surveyed companies in the United States would choose someone with German literacy over an equally qualified candidate.

  4. Germans are innovators.
    The German Daniel Fahrenheit developed the mercury termometer in 1714. From Gutenberg's printing press to Hertz' discovery of electromagnetic waves, from Ehrlich's development of chemotherapy to Einstein's theory of relativity, to Brandenburg's creation of the MP3 digital music format, throughout history Germans have proven themselves time and again to be great innovators. That trend continues today. 4 of the world's 10 most innovative companies are located in Germany and at 12.7% of the world's patent applications, the country ranks 3rd in the world. Consequently, 200,000 businesses introduce new products on the market each year.

    As a nation committed to research and development, Germans are on the frontline of new technologies. Germany exports more high-tech products than any other country except the U.S. and more than 600 firms are active in the cutting-edge field of biotechnology. 115 of these are located in Munich alone. The east German city of Dresden has become Europe's microchip center with its more than 765 semiconductor firms.

    Given the Germans' commitment to innovation, it is perhaps not surprising that two-thirds of the world's leading international trade fairs take place in Germany. These include CeBIT, the world's largest trade fair for information and communications technology, and the IFA consumer electronics trade fair.
  5. Germans are the biggest spenders of tourist dollars in the world.
    Over half a million Germans visit Florida each year. While German workers are highly productive, it is clear that they know how to play just as hard as they work. With ample disposable income and an average of 6 weeks of vacation a year, Germans have ample time to travel, ... and they do! If you are a world traveler, you are certain to encounter Germans wherever you go since nearly 3 out of every 4 vacations by Germans are spent in other countries. In 2002, Germans spent 56 billion Euros on international travel.

    Germans especially favor travel to warm Mediterranean climates, such as can be found in Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Greece, and travel to Eastern European countries is increasing in popularity. Germans also readily travel to Africa, the Far East, and the Americas. 1.2 million German tourists visited the U.S. in 2003, making Germans the third largest nationality of tourists to the United States (after the British and Japanese). The most popular U.S. destinations are California, Florida, and New York. Travel agencies, tour companies, hotels, airlines, and car rental agencies that can communicate with Germans in their own language will win their business. Floridians know this: In that state there are at least two travel magazines published in German: Florida Journal and Florida Sun Magazin.
  6. The German presence on the Internet supercedes most others.
    Considering what great innovators the Germans are, it's not at all surprising that they maintain a dominant Internet presence. With 8 million Internet domains, Germany's top-level country domain .de is second only to the extension .com. That makes German domain names even more popular than those with .net, .org, .info, and .biz extensions. Even the second-place country extension .uk trails far behind at 3.7 million domain names.

  7. Germans form the largest single heritage group in the U.S.
    If you're American or are interested in American culture, learning German can expand your appreciation and knowledge of U.S. history and culture. In the year 2000 census, 42.8 million or 15.2% of Americans reported having German ancestry, making German Americans the largest single heritage group in the U.S.

    In waves of immigration that span nearly 4 centuries, Germans brought with them many customs and traditions that have become so ingrained in American ways that their origin is often forgotten. Family names and names of thousands of towns and cities indicate the German heritage of their ancestors or founders. Such cultural mainstays as kindergarten, the Christmas tree, and hot dogs and hamburgers were introduced by German immigrants to America. They founded multiple breweries, created Levi's jeans, invented ketchup, and created Hershey's chocolate. Germans had such a fundamental presence at the time of the founding of the United States that a German language version of the Declaration of Independence was printed only a few days after it was adopted.

  8. 1 in 10 books in the world is published in German.
    German is not only a language of the past. As prolific researchers and scholars, German speakers produce nearly 80,000 new book titles each year. The only language markets that produce more books annually are the Chinese and English publishing industries. In number of books published, Munich is second in the world only to New York. Since only a small percentage of German books are translated into other languages (for instance, approximately 10% into Korean and Chinese, just over 5% into English), only a knowledge of German will give you access to a vast majority of these titles.

  9. German-speaking countries have a rich cultural heritage.
    Apart from their many contributions to American culture, the German speakers have a rich cultural heritage in their own right. Germany is often referred to as the land of "Dichter und Denker" -- of poets and thinkers. And rightly so, because German contributions to the arts and human thought have been nothing short of profound.

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, and Hermann Hesse are just a few authors whose names and works are well-known internationally. 10 Nobel prizes for literature have been awarded to German, Austrian, and Swiss German authors. The world of classical music is inseparable from the names of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Strauss, and Wagner to name only a few reknowned German-speaking composers. Vienna remains an international center of music today. From the magnificent architecture of medieval buildings to the avant garde Bauhaus movement, from Dürer's woodcuts to the expressionist masterpieces of Nolde, Kirchner, and Kokoschka, Germans have made substantial contributions to world art and architecture.

    Philosophy and the sciences would also be unthinkable without the contributions of German speakers. The philosophies of Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and numerous others have had lasting influences on modern society. The psychologists Freud and Jung forever changed the way we think about human behavior. Scientists from the three major German-speaking countries have won dozens of Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, and medicine.

    Knowing German allows you to access the works of these people in their original language and to fully understand the culture whence they derived. Anyone interested in these fields automatically expands her knowledge and skill by knowing German.
  10. German is not as hard as you think.
    ... then you already know some German! In addition, German is spelled phonetically. Once you learn the system of sounds, it is easy to predict how the spoken word is written and how the written word is pronounced.

  11. German is required or recommended by many undergraduate and graduate programs.
    German speakers' strong contributions in such a broad array of fields makes the language an important asset in many disciplines. At the University of California, for instance, more majors recommend a knowledge of German as an important supplement than any other language (German: 56 majors, French: 43 majors, Spanish: 21 majors, Japanese: 7 majors). These majors include a wide range of subjects -- from biology, physics, and chemistry to linguistics, religious studies, and art history.

    Considering the importance of the German language in the fields of publishing and research, it's not surprising that many graduate schools want their graduates to have at least a reading knowledge of German. Knowing German gives graduates access to important research published in German books and professional journals.

  12. Germany financially sponsors over 60,000 international exchanges each year.
    While promoting innovation and supporting research within Germany, the Germans also recognize that international cooperation and experience is essential to its continued success as a world leader. In the year 2001 alone, the German Academic Exchange Service supported 67,000 scholars, scientists, educators, and students in periods of international research and study.

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 Why Study Latin and Greek?

Better vocabulary. 60% of English words (90% of words over two syllables) derive from Latin, and many of those words originated in Greek. Thousands of scientific, medical, and technical neologisms (new words) have also been coined from Greek roots. Etymological knowledge (e.g. word history) increases one’s understanding of words’ true meanings and connotations. The mean verbal SAT score for Latin students in 2002 was 666, higher than for students of other languages.

Who was Psyche, and what does she have to do with my brain? Classical studies are in large part the study of Western Civilization. Ancient history and classical mythology always enter in to the study of Greek and Latin. Study of ancient languages improves one’s critical thinking and memory skills, and so benefits students of all disciplines.

Improved writing. Latin and Greek require attention to detail. Translating develops an understanding of sentence structure, and because all sentences can be translated in different ways, the translator constantly “revises,” perhaps the most important writing skill. Also, of course, knowledge of grammar enhances a student’s understanding of clauses, agreement, punctuation, and so on, and improves one’s understanding of English grammar.

Have you ever seen an alga? Greek and Latin help with unusual plurals. Impress your friends by using the term media properly! Never again say, “It was an important criteria”!

Je suis, tu es, il est… 80% or more of French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian words come from Latin.

Yes, even employment. Latin teachers are always in demand. Also, pharmacists, lawyers, doctors, nurses, linguists, historians, archaeologists, artists, writers, and many others benefit from having learned Greek and Latin.

Arma virumque cano… Studying Greek and Latin opens the door to some of the world’s greatest literature. You can read celebrated writers such as Sophocles, Aeschylus, Vergil and Ovid in their original languages.

Take the challenge… Greek and Latin are challenging. It’s gratifying to meet a challenge!

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Top Reasons to Study Spanish (From

  • Spanish is the world's third most spoken language, after Mandarin Chinese and English, and ranks second in terms of native speakers.
  • At the end of the 19th century, 60 million people spoke Spanish. Today, almost 500 million people worldwide speak Spanish!
  • Spanish is the mother tongue of approximately 350 million people in 21 countries (Mexico: 98 million, Spain: 39 million, USA: 39 million, Argentina: 35 million, Colombia: 36 million, Venezuela: 22 million, Peru: 20 million…) It is also widely spoken in many more where it is not an official language.
  • Hispanic consumers are the fastest-growing market segment in North America. Their population in the USA has grown by 60% in just one decade and their buying power is expected to exceed $926 million by 2007.
  • Spanish is the second most used language in international communication, and an official language of the UN and its organisations.
  • 29 million US residents above the age of 5 speak Spanish at home. That's approximately 1 of every 10 US residents, an enormous consumer and business-to-business market.
  • "The world is rapidly becoming multilingual and Arabic and Spanish are both key languages of the future" said language researcher David Graddol, commenting on a recent report presented to the British Council.
  • No one aware of the changing tides of business could fail to notice that we increasingly operate in global markets. Foreign language fluency is a significant asset for job seekers, as more and more companies trade internationally.
  • The US Census Bureau reports that the nation's Hispanic population is expected to jump to 49.3 million from 38.2 million by 2015. The 39 million Hispanics currently living in the USA make up 12.5% of the total population. This population growth has increased demand for Spanish language media: radio, television, newspapers, magazines...
  • Latin American countries are experiencing strong economic growth and becoming important global commercial partners. Newly created MERCOSUR and the existing free trade agreements between Hispanic countries and North America (ALADI, the Andean Community, CACM, NAFTA, G3), are expected to bring further growth to Latin American economies.
  • Latin culture continues to have a global influence on architecture, art and literature. Who isn't familiar with Cervantes 'Don Quijote de la Mancha, the second most translated book after the Bible, which marked its 400th anniversary in 2005 with worldwide celebrations? Who hasn't heard that the most expensive painting ever sold is a Picasso?
  • Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava continues to make his mark worldwide, with recent and current projects in Sweden, Ireland, Germany, the Olympic campus in Athens and the site of the world trade centre in New York, among others.
  • Spanish language authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende continue to lead global best seller lists and win international critical acclaim.

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Why Study Hungarian?

Just a few among the many reasons:

  • You can learn a special, unique language which is very logical
  • Hungary is a country with more than 1000 years of history, rich in natural beauty, traditions and culture
  • Hungarians are welcoming and friendly people with delicious foods and dishes (you may have already heard of gulyás – goulash, halászlé – fisherman’s soup, rétes – Hungarian strudel etc.)
  • From a diachronic perspective, Hungarian is a Finno-Ugric language like the Finnish and Estonian languages; however, Hungarian has been heavily influenced by Indo-European languages, so even if you are not aware of it yet, you already know quite a bit of Hungarian vocabulary
  • Hungarian has only three verb tenses (one past, one present and one future tense), of which it uses mainly two (past and present), so you do not really have to worry about getting confused with the usage of verb tenses in Hungarian
  • Cleveland has a large Hungarian community, as well as various Hungarian locations (bakeries, restaurants, museum etc.)
  • Lots of famous people have Hungarian origins – it is possible that you are also connected to the Magyars, you just do not know it yet
  • By speaking Hungarian you will surely earn others’ attention and recognition
  • There are many study opportunities in Hungary that you can choose from: in fact, you can join various short-term and long-term study programs organized by recognized Hungarian universities and institutions (summer schools, semester courses, year long programs, etc.)
  • Once you are in Hungary, the cost of living is very favorable and prices are affordable
  • Learning Hungarian not only contributes to your personal enrichment and makes you acquainted with a wonderful language and culture, but your job opportunities will also widen and you may be qualified for working at any organization, cultural and educational institution, language school etc. within Hungary or in the world where Hungarian may be useful or required

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