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New SLU-Madrid Major: Modern Languages and Intercultural Communication

by Isaiah Voss


Starting in September 2024, a new major will be available to both incoming and current Madrid campus students.

SLU-Madrid's newest major, modern languages and intercultural communication, promotes establishing intercultural and interpersonal skills to respond to a globalized world's demands. The 32-credit-hour program features language fluency requirements and a 2-credit-hour practicum coined "Reflection on Intercultural Experiences" upon program completion.

The major requires courses with a cultural attribute in areas such as art history, communication, education, international business or political science.

The idea of this is for students to become global citizens "in the real sense of the word," said Program Director Hamish Binns.

The program bridges SLU's Madrid and St. Louis campuses because language courses offered solely at SLU-St. Louis fulfill the program's language requirements, allowing students to move freely between both campuses. This movement will enable students to take advantage of the unique offerings at both locations.

Russian, for example, is taught only at SLU-St. Louis while Arabic and Portuguese are exclusive to the Madrid campus.

Professor with students looking at a laptop while standing outside.

Program director Hamish Binns with students outside Padre Arrupe Hall. Photo by Luana Fischer.

Students in the program will work toward proficiency in three languages, selecting from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish. The expected fluency level of each language ranges from an A2 to a B2 level based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) or novice to upper intermediate.

Students must obtain official language certificates verifying fluency at a B2 level in the primary language, a B1 in the second and an A2 in the third. Hamish Binns, program director for SLU-Madrid's Department of Modern Languages and ESL, pointed out that official language exams can be beneficial in job interviews.

"This major is a starting point to develop intercultural competence," Binns said. Amid the rise of artificial intelligence and AI translators, the new Modern Languages and Intercultural Communication major will promote these needed skills, he said.

Earning an A2 level in the program's third language is low, however, Binns said it allows students to "make contact with people and start friendships with natives" to encourage lifelong learning.

"This is the Madrid major," he said. "It's the day-to-day life on campus."

Learn More About the Modern Languages and Intercultural Communication, B.A.