Language Study

In the Romance Languages Program at the University of Chicago, we strive to engage students in the study of the target language and culture through a highly interactive communicative framework with a strong emphasis on authentic materials. In our courses students develop grammatical, lexical and sociolinguistic proficiency while acquiring knowledge of the target culture via exposure to a wide variety of texts and audio or audio-visual recordings. Equal importance is placed on all four linguistic skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. We currently offer language courses in Basque, Catalan, Haitian Creole (Kreyòl), Italian, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

In beginning language courses, students learn to talk about themselves and their world. in intermediate courses, students expand their linguistic knowledge to be able to deal with abstraction, argument, and world issues. Third-year language courses fine-tune oral and written skills, and explore various facets of the target culture in greater depth.

The University of Chicago is currently in the process of expanding its course offerings for heritage language learners, a group defined as students who grew up learning the target language but who have had limited formal study of it. In RLL, a heritage track is currently being offered in Spanish at both the intermediate and advanced levels. These courses emphasize the development of a broader range of formality registers and focus in particular on honing reading and writing skills. Students also learn about the wide linguistic and cultural variation across the Spanish-speaking world.


Cobb Hall
Plan of Cobb Hall, where most of our language courses are taught. University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf2-01797r, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

What Can I Do With One Year of Basque, Catalan, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish? 

By the end of the first-year sequence, you are a “linguistic survivor!” You can hold a conversation with a native speaker on familiar topics, recount a basic narrative, and handle uncomplicated situations and transactions. If your goal is to study abroad, you can get by in the target language with one year of study.  

What Can I Do With Two Years of Catalan, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish? 

In the second-year sequence, you will learn to recount well-developed narrations and descriptions of events and experiences in all major time frames, hold your own in a discussion (give and justify your opinion, offer persuasive arguments, etc.), and handle more complicated situations and transactions. If your goal is to pursue year-long or intensive study abroad, you will qualify for these programs with two years of study.