2013-14 Catalogs

MCLL Overview

Chair of the Department: Charlene Suscavage, 102 Bedford Street, International House,  Portland

Professors: Aicher; Associate Professors: Erickson, Suscavage, Uzzi; Professors Emeritae: Crochet, Hinckley

A foreign language major offers a uniquely rich and diverse humanities background. The study of languages sensitizes us to other cultures and the relativity of values; it frees us from the confines of monolingualism and provincialism; it increases our understanding of and competence in our native language; and, most important, it is an inquiry into language as language: the structure, system, code by which we interpret the world to ourselves and others. Through in-depth study of literature we develop skills of close reading and literary analysis, and in all our courses we hone our writing skills.

A foreign language is also a valuable and marketable skill in many professions, especially international relations and trade, government service, journalism, travel, social services, the arts, and teaching.

Additional Information

The Department offers a major in French (with two different tracks) and broader, interdepartmental majors in Foreign Languages, Classics, and Hispanic Studies,. Also Classics, French, and Spanish minors are available which augment other majors in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

The Department also offers a number of courses in English translation requiring no knowledge of a foreign language and open to any student interested in foreign or classical literature, civilization, and film. Independent study courses, numbered 470, are available to qualified students with the permission of the instructor and the Department chair.

English for Speakers of Other Languages

Also offered through the Department are higher level ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses for students whose first language is not English. These courses focus on the linguistic skills necessary for academic work at a university as well as adjustment to and knowledge of American culture. There is no major or minor in this program.

English Language Bridge Program

Students applying to the University who meet regular admission requirements but whose TOEFL scores fall below the required level may be eligible for admission to the University through the English Language Bridge Program offered through the ESOL Department.

For further information on the ESOL program contact Bart Weyand, program director, 101 Payson Smith Hall, Portland.


Beginning courses (101-102) are for students who have never studied the language. Courses numbered 103 are a review of this beginner's level. Intermediate level courses (201-202 for modern languages, 251-252 for the ancient languages) are for students with two or more successful years of high school language study. Those whose background does not fit any of these categories, especially Franco-American students and students with Hispanic, German, or Italian heritage, should consult an instructor in the language before registering. Courses numbered 105-206 give students a reading proficiency in French or German for research in their field, graduate school language requirements, or cultural enjoyment. Courses numbered 107 and 207 are intensive, 8-credit language courses offered during the summer only; 107 and 207 cover the same material as 101-102 and 201-202, respectively. Students who have received credit for 102 or 202 cannot also receive credit for 107 and 207, respectively. Partial credit may be awarded if the student has received credit for 101 or 201 only.

The Department grants credit in French, German, Greek, Latin, and Spanish to enrolled students who present evidence of competency in one of those languages by completing the appropriate Advanced Placement Examination Board. For more details, contact the chair of the Department.

All majors, including group contract majors, must achieve grades of B or better for at least 12 credits in their major courses. No grade of D will count toward fulfillment of major. A student who has received a grade of B- or above in a 300-level language class may not take 101, 102, or 201 for credit.

Students are also urged to get extra practice in French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Japanese by participating in informal conversation tables sponsored by the Department. Tutoring is available, often at no cost to the student. For information, see the Department assistant.

State of Maine certification for foreign language teachers requires 30 credits at the level 300 and above for the first language and 18 credits at the level 300 and above for the second language.

All major programs in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures require that the student fulfill the requirements of the Core curriculum.

Study Abroad

All students, regardless of major, are eligible to study in a foreign country, normally after studying the language of that country for two years on the college level and usually in their junior year. For the study of German, USM has a study abroad program at the University of Salzburg in Austria. For French, the University of Maine System has a formal program associated with the University of Le Mans in France. USM participates in the University of Maine Partnership Maine-France-Quebec which offers students a variety of opportunities to study in a chosen field at any number of partner institutions in France and Quebec. (http://www.maine.edu/system/asa/IntlOppsStudentsPMFQ.php). USM has also a longstanding exchange with the Université Laval in Quebec. In addition, there are a number of programs that the French Section strongly supports and recommends, among them the program at the Centre International d'Etudes Françaises at the Université Catholique de l'Ouest in Angers, France (http://www.uco.fr/CIDEF/). Other departments at USM occasionally organize summer programs that might interest students majoring in French. For Russian, students have the possibility of going to St. Petersburg, Moscow, or other cities. For Spanish, there is a Summer Session program in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, as well as other options available in Latin America and Spain. Students interested in study abroad should consult with the chair of the Department or with the Office of International Exchange to explore these and other possibilities.

Group Contract in Foreign Languages

The Self-Designed Major Program of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences provides students with a flexible opportunity to tailor their major to their interests and needs in foreign language study. The following group contract options are available within the Self-Designed Major Program:

  • Classics
  • Foreign Languages
  • Hispanic Studies

Please refer to the section on interdepartmental majors of this catalog or contact the chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures for additional information.


Because the knowledge of a foreign language, or languages, or language study areas, is valuable to all majors in other CAS disciplines, the Department offers minor programs in Classical Languages, French, The Greek World, Latin, The Roman World, and Spanish.