• Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

  • About

    The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Yeshiva College serves as an interdisciplinary hub for foreign language acquisition as well as the exploration of larger questions, both practical and humanistic, related to language and literary and cultural studies.

    Our goal is to develop and enhance communicative language skills, reading and interpretive skills, critical thinking and understanding both within and among the cultural and linguistic groups represented.

    With six languages taught, extensive resources and growing numbers of activities outside the classroom, the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures is an ever-expanding cultural crossroads!

    Programs of Study

    A major in Languages, Literatures and Cultures requires students to select a primary language section and fulfill requirements set by that section. The department currently offers majors in French and Classical Languages, and minors in French, Spanish and Classics.

    Please visit the French, Classical Languages and Spanish sites for information on program requirements and offerings.

    This site gathers information on Yeshiva College offerings in Yiddish and Arabic. (Note that Yeshiva College also has rich offerings in Hebrew, which is not considered a foreign language at YC.)

    Requirements for each major generally include demonstration of language proficiency and the successful completion of a series of courses and seminars in the literature and culture of the major area. Selection of these seminars is done in concert with a faculty adviser and is designed to be as flexible as possible, allowing students to cross-register and customize their course of study to suit the schedule and diverse needs of the YC student. Work towards a major culminates in an independent study during the student’s senior year.

    Why Study Languages?

    Reasons for studying a language are multifaceted—ranging from the personal to the political—but it’s undeniable that knowledge of a second (or, for most YC students, third, fourth, or fifth) language enhances our understanding of other cultures, as well as our own.

    With their knowledge of Hebrew (and, possibly, Aramaic and other tongues), YU students are in a privileged position to learn additional languages, and we encourage you to take advantage of this. Not only can a language provide a personal link to others but also, in this age of increasing globalization, it can create important ties to economic and political partners.

    Moreover, a language opens pathways to other rich cultures, traditions, histories, and art. For these reasons, knowledge of a language is a perfect complement to many other fields of study: political science, international relations, business, law, medicine, history, Jewish Studies, English, philosophy, cinema, art and art history, to name just a few.

    And did we mention it’s fun? Language classes at YC combine innovative language teaching methods and use of the latest technology with dynamic teachers. In a language class at YC you can expect something new everyday : we use skits, movies, internet activities and a variety of communicative approaches to encourage students’ participation in the creative process of language learning.

    Finally, let’s not forget that studying a language can fulfill your General Education requirement: Two courses in history, philosophy or a foreign language other than Hebrew OR one course selected from Art, Music or a foreign language other than Hebrew.

    Yiddish at YC

    Studying Yiddish enables students to explore the religious, cultural, historical and social inheritance of generations of Jews. Spoken by the majority of Eastern European Jews until the Holocaust, Yiddish is an indispensable tool in the study of Eastern European history, literature, folklore and religion, and crucial to American Jewish history as well.

    The immigration of millions of Yiddish-speaking Jews in the early twentieth century created a vibrant Yiddish-speaking community in New York, with a rich culture of newspapers, publishing companies, theaters, movies and political parties.

    Yiddish is spoken today by young and old, religious and secular Jews in many parts of the world. Students of Yiddish will be able to communicate with Hassidim, read contemporary Hassidic literature, listen to shiurim taught in Yiddish and delve into the works of such celebrated writers as Mendele Mokher Sforim, Sholem Aleichem, Y.L. Peretz and Nobel Prize laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer.

    College students from around the world are studying Yiddish in summer programs in New York, Tel Aviv, Vilna and Amherst, Massachusetts, securing the future of Yiddish studies. YC students can also take part in this exciting renewal of an old tradition!

    Arabic at YC

    Yeshiva College offers courses in elementary intermediate levels of Arabic.

    Students choose to study Arabic because they wish to be able to communicate with the millions of Arabic speakers in the world. Those planning careers in international business, communications, and diplomacy are professionally motivated to acquire proficiency in Arabic.

    Courses in Arabic may be taken to fill Humanities requirements or as electives.

    If you have any questions about studies in Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Yeshiva College, please contact Professor Mesch at mesch@yu.edu or at 212.960.5400, ext. 6868.

    Mission Statement

    The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Yeshiva College serves as an
    interdisciplinary hub for foreign language acquisition as well as the exploration of larger
    questions, both practical and humanistic, related to language, literary and cultural studies.
    The languages represented within the department are Arabic, French, Greek, Latin, Spanish,
    Syriac and Yiddish. Offering language-learning courses, literature courses, and upper-division
    seminars (usually cross-listed with the English Department) the over-arching departmental goal
    is to develop and enhance communicative language skills, reading and interpretive skills, critical
    thinking and understanding both within and among the cultural and linguistic groups represented.

Yeshiva University
500 West 185th Street
New York, NY 10033
212.960.5400

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