World Languages and Cultures

We currently offer courses in 15 languages and undergraduate major with emphases in French, German, and Spanish. Majors may also pursue educator licensure or an accelerated law degree. Minors are available in Classical Studies, French and Francophone Studies, German Studies, Italian, Japanese Studies, Russian, and Spanish and Hispanic Studies, Latino/Latin American Studies, Linguistics, Southeast Asian Studies and Translation for Global Literacy.

Languages offered 

  • American Sign Language
  • Burmese
  • Chinese (temporarily unavailable)
  • French
  • German
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Khmer
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swahili
  • Tagalog
  • Thai

Degree Information

The Department of World Languages and Cultures offers undergraduate major with emphases in French, German and Spanish.  Foreign language majors may gain licensure to teach K-12 in French, German and Spanish. An accelerated law degree is available to majors who meet specific requirements set by the NIU College of Law. The department participates in the interdisciplinary minors in Classical Studies, Comparative Literature, Linguistics, Latino/Latin American studies, Southeast Asian Studies, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Why study a foreign language?

  • Increase global understanding
  • Improve your own language skills
  • Have an edge when you apply for graduate school or that first professional position
  • Discover other cultures
  • Add to your understanding of your own culture

Japanese FLAL trip photo

Foreign Language Residence Program

NIU’s oldest residential program - inaugurated in 1972 - the Foreign Language Residence Program (FLRP) has provided NIU students with an extraordinary opportunity to practice their language skills outside the classroom setting in a relaxed residential environment.

In addition to the program’s many academic benefits, FLRP participants also enjoy lifelong friendships and professional networking opportunities as well as cultural excursions and retreats at no extra cost.

Summer Faculty-led Study Abroad Trips

  • Argentina
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • Spain

Multimedia Learning Center/Tutoring

Students come to the center for class and for individual instruction. Two large, open computer areas allow students to simulate talking on the phone in a foreign language and prepare portfolios to show their progress in learning a language. All computers in the center are set up to also accommodate visually impaired students.

The center uses state-of-the-art translation software to teach students how to translate. TRADOS Studio 2014 Professional is a powerful tool for translating, editing, reviewing and organizing terminology. It is used by more than 190,000 translators worldwide. NIU is one of only a handful of universities in North America that has offered this technology to students and faculty. 

In addition to regular office hours, instructors and professors come to the center an hour a week to provide tutoring in German, French and Spanish. 

The center can also accommodate students working on research projects – books and periodicals in a variety of languages and can be checked out and videos and movies can be viewed at individual viewing stations and a small theater. A conference room, equipped with Skype, is available.

What can I do with this degree?

The continuous expansion of international relations makes the knowledge of foreign languages a critical need for today’s professional. Students of foreign languages pursue careers not only in education, research, translating, and interpreting, but also in politics, diplomacy, banking, computer technology, human resources, software development, commerce, and journalism to name a few. The demand for multilingual personnel extends to all fields of enterprise and is continuing to grow.

Students who major in foreign languages may go on to graduate school, teach, or study law, medicine, or business. Many apply the critical thinking and writing skills they acquire to various positions in management, public relations, administration, and government.

Contact Information

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Watson Hall 111
(815) 753-1501