Languages and Literatures

The Department of Languages and Literatures offers programs of study at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

In addition to our degree-granting programs, a wide range of minors and undergraduate coursework in Ancient and Modern Greek, Latin, Biblical and Modern Hebrew, Hindi, German, Linguistics, Russian, Arabic, and Classical studies are also available within the department.

For graduate students in other disciplines, we offer reading courses in French and German. 

For a full cultural immersion experience, we strongly recommend you take advantage of St. John's extensive Global Education offerings.

Additional Information

The English as a Second Language (ESL) program at St. John’s University, housed in the Department of Languages and Literatures, provides non-native English speakers with the language skills necessary to succeed in both academic and professional settings. The comprehensive program includes language evaluation, advisement, instruction, and cultural orientation.

Undergraduate students in the ESL program receive credit toward their degrees and fulfill their language requirements, while graduate students receive three credits toward full-time visa status.

For more information about TOEFL/IELTS scores and admission to an undergraduate or graduate program at St. John’s University, please visit the Admission section of our website.

Program Features

Outside of the classroom, students work with qualified language tutors at the Global Language and Culture Center (GLCC) and participate in cultural activities sponsored by the GLCC.

They may also take part in The English Language Table, a program that allows international students to socialize with American students in small groups and learn about American life and culture. In turn, the ESL students share their language and culture with American students.


Nina Beliavsky, Ph.D.
ESL Coordinator
St. John Hall, Room 434F
718 990-1929
[email protected]

Language placement tests are only administered for students intending to major or minor in a language. All other students seeking to fulfill their language requirements will be advised and placed by faculty in the Department of Languages and Literatures. You may not register for a language class for the first time at St John’s without prior placement. If you, bypass this regulation, you will be placed at the proper level by your instructor or the language coordinator on the first day of class, which may result in class schedule conflicts.

The placement test evaluates your proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing competencies and are administered for the following languages:

  • French
  • Italian
  • Spanish

If you are interested in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, please contact the Institute for Asian Studies

You will take the placement test at the Global Language and Culture Center. During the academic year, placement tests are administered on a walk-in basis during regular office hours. Over the summer, appointments are necessary. 

You must bring photo identification with you for the test, which takes approximately 45 minutes and requires no prior preparation. After you receive the test results, you will schedule a meeting with the coordinator for the language of your choice.

If you are a Staten Island student, please contact your Dean's office for placement guidelines.

The Classics and Ancient Studies minors offer students the tools to understand and appreciate the ancient world. These minors study the culture, language, politics, philosophy, and religion of antiquity.

The Classics minor requires the completion of 18 credits, including six credits of Latin above LAT 1020, six credits of Ancient Greek, and six credits in related courses chosen under departmental advisement. The Ancient Studies minor does not require any knowledge of Latin or Greek, but rather 18 credits of courses dealing with Greek and Roman antiquity selected in consultation with an advisor.

Courses Offered

Language Courses
GRA 1010; 1020 Elementary Ancient Greek
LAT 1010; 1020 Elementary Latin
LAT 2030; 2040 Intermediate Latin
LAT 2050 Selections from Medieval Latin
LAT 2060 Ecclesiastical Latin
HBB 1010; 1020 Elementary Biblical Hebrew

General Courses
CLS 1210/ENG 3620 Classical Mythology
CLS 1240 Women in the Ancient World
CLS 1250/GOV 1250 Western Political Thought I: Classical and Medieval
CLS 1260 Ancient Greek and Roman Historians
CLS 1320/LIN 1320 Roots of English Vocabulary
CLS 1770/ART 1770 Classical Archaeology
CLS 2001/HIS 2001 Early Ancient Civilizations
CLS 2002/HIS 2002 Ancient Greek and Roman Civilizations
CLS 2150/LIN 2150 Introduction to Romance Linguistics
CLS 2600/GOV 2600 Roman Law and Society
CLS 3100/PHI 3500 History of Ancient Philosophy
CLS 3130/ THE 3130 The Bible and Archaeology
CLS 3200/SPE 3130 Foundations of Rhetorical Theory
CLS 3500/ENG 3500 Classical Literature
CLS 3600/ENG 3600 Classical Epic in Translation
CLS 3610/ENG 3610 Classical Drama in Translation

Study Abroad
CLS/ART 1775 Greek Archaeology On-Site
CLS/ART 1790 Survey of Art and Architecture in Italy
CLS/ART 1795 The City of Rome

Robert Forman
Walter Petrovitz

This minor will prepare students for the demands of a highly competitive international marketplace by building their global competencies and appreciation of different French-speaking cultures across five continents. Several courses that apply to this minor are offered in English. 

Completion of a minor in Francophone Studies requires 18 credits chosen in consultation with a departmental advisor. Students will complete six credits of French language instruction at any level, as well as 12 credits from among the following: 

FRE 3901 Francophone Literature
FRE 3902 Women Writers in France
FRE 3920 Human Rights in Francophone Africa
FRE 3921 History of French Cinema
FRE 3930 Paris in the French Culture
FRE 3905 Science and Technology in French Culture and Literature
FRE 3923 Urban France
LAC 1000 French Language and Culture

Sara Hanaburgh
Michele H. Jones
Zoe Petropoulou
Steve Puig

French is the second most frequently taught foreign language in the world (after English). It is the only language other than English spoken on five continents. Learning French opens up many opportunities for students in fields like international business, education, translation, and the arts.

Completion of a minor in French requires 15 credits of the following courses chosen in consultation with a departmental advisor.

Courses Offered
FRE 3090C Masterpieces of French Literature Part I
FRE 3100C Masterpieces of French Literature Part II
FRE 3550; 3560 French Civilization Part I; II
FRE 3870 Advanced French Grammar and Composition
FRE 3110, FRE 3120 Advanced French Conversation
FRE 3150 Review of French Grammar
FRE 3260 History of French Cinema
FRE 3280 20th/21st Century French Literature, Film, Media, Culture
FRE 3300 France within the European Union
FRE 3600 Life in Contemporary France
FRE 3630 17th Century French Literature
FRE 3650 18th Century French Literature
FRE 3670 19th Century French Literature
FRE 3690 20th Century French Literature
FRE 3810 Advanced Commercial French
FRE 3820 Afro-Caribbean Francophone Literature
FRE 3870 Advanced French Grammar and Composition
FRE 4830 French and Francophone Women Writers
FRE 3900 Art and Skills of Translation
FRE 4620 Paris in the French Culture
FRE 4990 Seminar
FRE 4980 International Internship in France

Sara Hanaburgh
Michele H. Jones
Zoe Petropoulou
Steve Puig

Hallo! Willkommen!
A minor in German, the most spoken language in the European Union, opens doors for students in the fields of science, technology, business, journalism, and the arts. Completion of the minor requires 18 credits of the following course offerings, chosen in consultation with the department chair.

Courses Offered 
GER 1010 German, Level I
GER 1020 German, Level II
GER 2030 German, Level III
GER 2040 Intermediate German Conversation
GER 3090; 3100 Masterpieces of German Literature I and II
GER 3110; 3120 Advanced German Conversation
GER 3550; 3560 Civilization of Germany I; II
GER 3690; 3700 Goethe
GER 3710 German Romanticism
GER 3720 German Novel
GER 3870; 3880 Advanced German Grammar and Composition I; II
GER 4953 Independent Study

Zoran Cerar

Career opportunities abound for professionals with Italian language skills in the fields of international banking, fashion, travel and tourism, politics, journalism, law, commerce, translation, and the arts. The 15-credit minor in Italian allows students to supplement their major field of study with an understanding of the rich language and culture of Italy.

Courses Offered
ITA 1000 Intensive Italian I; II
ITA 2000 Intensive Italian III; IV
ITA 1010 Italian, Level I
ITA 1020 Italian, Level II
ITA 2030 Italian, Level III
ITA 2040 Intermediate Italian Conversation
ITA 3080 Italian Contemporary Readings
ITA 3090; 3100 Masterpieces of Italian Literature
ITA 3110; 3120 Advanced Italian Conversation
ITA 3150 Review of Italian Grammar (online)
ITA 3240 Pirandello’s Theatre
ITA 3260 Italian Cinema, from Neo-Realism to the Present
ITA 3500 Italian Culture through the Internet (online)
ITA 3530 Italian Renaissance Art and Literature
ITA 3540 Southern Italy: A Cultural Journey
ITA 3550; 3560 Civilization of Italy
ITA 3570 Studies in Italian Culture
ITA 3580 The City of Rome
ITA 3590 Dante and His Times
ITA 3600 Contemporary Italy
ITA 3710 Trends in Italian Opera
ITA 3720 Italian Culture through its Music:
ITA 3610 Eros and Medieval Culture in Boccaccio’s Decameron
ITA 3660 The Italian Novella
ITA 3620 Italian Renaissance Literature
ITA 3670 Twentieth Century Italian Literature
ITA 3680 The Modern Italian Theatre
ITA 3690 Italian Poetry of the 19th Century
ITA 3700 Italian Novel of the 19th Century
ITA 3740 Contemporary Italian Fiction
ITA 3810 Advanced Italian for Business
ITA 3820 La Divina Commedia
ITA 3870 Italian Advanced Grammar and Composition
ITA 3900 Art and Skills of Translation
ITA4953 Independent Study
ITA 4980 Italian International Internship

Florence Russo
Annalisa Saccà

The 18-credit minor in Italian allows students to supplement their major field of study with an understanding of the rich history and culture of Italy.

Students in the minor must complete one Italian language course, along with 15 credits chosen from among the following: 

ART 1095 Monuments of the World Architecture
ART 1250 Italian Sketchbook
ART 1790 Survey of Art and Architecture
DNY Rome and New York: Urban Design and Culture
ENG 2500 Discovery of Italy through British Writers
HMT 2025 Italian Culture through Food
ITA 3580 The City of Rome
ITA 3910 Regional Italy: The Arts, The Culture, The Food
ITA 3920 Italian Fashion
ITA 3980 The Culture of Rome through Its Neighborhoods
ITA 4000 Special Topics in Italian

You may also apply any online course related to Italian art, history, culture, or economics, chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor. 

Annalisa Saccà

The Linguistics minor trains students in the principles of grammatical analysis. It serves as an excellent complement to majors in English, Government and Politics, Philosophy, Theology, and modern languages. Students in the minor must complete 18 credits of the following courses, chosen in consultation with an advisor.

Courses Offered
LIN 1010 Introduction to Linguistics
LIN 1020 Survey of Linguistics
LAC 1000 Language and Culture
LIN/ANT/SPE 1155 Language and Intercultural Communication
LIN/CLS 1320 Roots of English Vocabulary
LIN 1510 Language and the Law
LIN/SPE 1710 Phonetics
LIN/SPE 1720 Anatomy and Physiology of the Speech System
LIN/SPE 1730 Language Acquisition
LIN 1810 Phonology
LIN/CLS 2150 Introduction to Romance Linguistics
LIN/PHI 3400 Introduction to Logic
LIN/PHI 3420 Informal Logic
LIN/PHI 3910 Philosophy of Language

Γειά σας
The Greek language has been hugely influential in the development of western culture and civilization. Today, Greek is one of the main languages of the European Union. The study of Modern Greek language and culture provides students with the key to understanding the importance of the hellenic tradition in European intellectual development.

The Modern Greek minor emphasizes the spoken language, with parallel development of reading, writing, and comprehension skills. It requires 18 credits of the following courses, chosen in consultation with a departmental advisor.

Courses Offered
GRM 1010 Modern Greek Level I
GRM 1020 Modern Greek Level II
GRM 2030 Modern Greek Level III
GRM 2040 Intermediate Modern Greek, Conversation
GRM 3090; 3100 Masterpieces of Greek Literature I; II
GRM 3130; 3140 Modern Greek for Bilingual Use
GRM 4953 Independent Study

Athanasia Biska

Привет – Privet!
Russian is the sixth most spoken language in the world, and is an important language for such diverse fields as business, journalism, science, technology, mathematics, literature, music, ballet, cinema, and theater. Russian is considered a strategic language by the United States government, which provides scholarships for studying the language and employment for those fluent in the language. 

The Russian minor requires students to complete 18 credits of the following, chosen under departmental supervision.

Courses Offered
RUS 1010 Russian, Level I
RUS 1020 Russian Level II
RUS 2030 Russian, Level III
RUS 2040C Intermediate Russian Conversation
RUS 3090; 3100 Masterpieces of Russian Literature I and II
RUS 3110; 3120 Advanced Russian Conversation
RUS 3230 Dostoevsky  

Janna Moukhatasova

Students pursuing a Spanish minor learn writing and speaking skills in the language, as well as important aspects of Spanish civilization (art, literature, history, culture, and politics). This knowledge opens doors for students in the fields of education, business, politics, journalism, translation, and the arts.

The Spanish minor requires students to complete 15 credits of the following, chosen under departmental supervision.

Courses Offered
SPA 1010 Spanish, Level I
SPA 1020 Spanish, Level II
SPA 2030 Spanish, Level III
SPA 2040 Intermediate Spanish Conversation
SPA 2050 Readings in Modern Spanish
SPA 3090; 3100 Masterpieces of Hispanic Literature I; II
SPA 3110; 3120 Advanced Spanish Conversation
SPA 2150 Spanish for Law-Related Careers
SPA 2170 Spanish for Medical Personnel
SPA 2350 Spanish for Bilingual Hispanics
SPA 2360 Review of Spanish Grammar
SPA 3450 Spanish Feminism
SPA 3550 Civilization of Spain
SPA 3560 Civilization of Spanish America
SPA 3570 Medieval Spanish Literature
SPA 3580 Works of Cervantes I
SPA 3581 Works of Cervantes II
SPA 3600 Contemporary Spain
SPA 3610; 3620 Spanish Golden Age Literature I; II
SPA 3640 19th-Century Spanish Literature
SPA 3690 Contemporary Spanish America
SPA 3700 The Spanish-American Novel
SPA 3710 The Essay in Spanish-American Literature
SPA 3730 Spanish American Short Story
SPA 3740 Contemporary Spanish American Poetry
SPA 3770 Literature of Spain from the Generation of 1898 to the Civil War
SPA 3780 Spanish Literature After the Civil War
SPA 3840 Contemporary Hispanic Theater
SPA 3870 Advanced Spanish Grammar and Composition
SPA 3900 Art and Skills of Translation
SPA 4770 Spanish Literature of the 19th Century
SPA 4953 Independent Study

Alina Camacho-Gingerich
Marie-Lise Gazarian
Carmen Klohe
Eduardo Mitre