The program is designed to develop linguistic competence and critical skills as well as a profound appreciation of the culture and civilization of the world.
The language courses provide solid preparation and practice in spoken and written areas including a thorough review of grammar and vocabulary supplemented with cultural readings and activities. The beginning courses prepare students for advanced work in literature and cultural studies while improving competence in the language. The 200-level courses treat a selection of outstanding works in various periods and genres. Some of the 200-level classes are devoted to advanced language training and afford practice in spoken and written work. Others consider the political, social, and cultural histories of the people that the language represents. Advanced course deal intensively with individual authors or periods of special significance.
Students in all of the languages are encouraged to speak the language at all times. All of the classes are taught in Chinese, French, German or Spanish and they are supplemented with outside activities to promote instruction. Many students are able to obtain an internship in their senior year in order to further their study. Study at Messiah is supplemented with an intensive semester with the Brethren College Abroad program in a country which the language represents. Residence in this program is required for one semester, and many students spend the full junior year abroad.