The mission of the Department of Foreign Literature and Languages at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is to provide all students with opportunities to learn about and reflect on diverse cultural perspectives, practices, and products, while at the same time developing students' communicative abilities in a foreign language and preparing them to succeed in professional programs that apply this knowledge.
Specifically, the Department is aligned with the Standards of Foreign Language Learning as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). These standards are designed to help students demonstrate an integrated understanding and proficiency with the 5 C’s:
1. Communication: The communication standard stresses the use of the target language for communication in "real life" situations. It emphasizes "what students can do with language" rather than "what they know about language." Students are asked to communicate in interpersonal situations, to interpret oral and written messages, to show cultural understanding when they communicate, and to present oral and written information to various audiences for a variety of purposes.
2. Cultures: Cultural understanding is an important part of language education. Experiencing other cultures develops a better understanding and appreciation of the relationship between languages and other cultures, as well as the student's native culture. Students become better able to understand other people's points of view, ways of life, and contributions to the world. Through cultural study, students also develop a broad sense of similarities and differences between cultures and come to better understand the creative and intellectual traditions of the target culture's world, including literature, theater, film, music, and painting, as well as various forms of popular culture.
3. Connections: Language instruction must be connected with other subject areas. Content from other subject areas is integrated with language instruction through lessons or courses that are developed around themes common to other subject areas.
4. Comparisons: Students are encouraged to compare and contrast target language structure with English structure and also to compare varied target language cultures with their own. They discover patterns, make predictions, and analyze similarities and differences across languages and cultures. Students often come to understand their native language and culture better through such comparisons.
5. Communities: Extending learning experiences from the target language classroom to the home and multilingual and multicultural community emphasizes living in a global society. Activities may include: integration of service learning experiences within courses, field trips; use of e-mail and the Internet; participation in clubs, exchange or study-abroad programs, and cultural activities; school-to-work opportunities; and opportunities to hear speakers of the target language at the University and in the classroom. The Department of Foreign Literature and Languages strongly encourages students to study abroad, and has developed programs to help students experience the cultures and civilizations of countries where the target language is spoken.