Shared Learning Outcomes and Goals

The Department of German, Russian, Italian, and Arabic is committed to building bridges between cultures and to fostering a student-centered learning environment in its classrooms. First and foremost, this means a focus on individual student needs and learning outcomes that encourages engagement with the language and active development of reading, writing,  speaking, and listening-comprehension skills. We are well versed in the latest methods of language instruction, which focus not only on proficiency, but also on cultural and digital literacy, and we strive to achieve outcomes that meet or exceed national standards. Through classroom instruction featuring culturally authentic materials, students will acquire a holistic understanding of the language, creating a long-lasting connection to the cultures that speak it.

Why You Should Choose Our Courses

We believe that you have to know others in order to “Know Thyself.” As part of your experience at Hamilton you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the language and culture both in the classroom and through a variety of activities, such as weekly conversation tables, field trips, storytelling, films, and much more. You will acquire proficiency in a language that can be applied to a concentration in one of our language study areas or enhance your study of any number of other disciplines. You will also be prepared for full immersion in any of our approved study-abroad programs. We partner with many historic and prestigious universities overseas. The programs there will give you access to a full range of cultural and linguistic opportunities.

How will you learn German, Russian, Italian, or Arabic?

The Department of German, Russian, Italian, and Arabic offers language acquisition and literature courses at all levels in these areas, as well as concentrations in German Studies and Russian Studies. A minor concentration is offered in Italian Studies. Arabic and Hebrew can both count towards the concentration in Middle East and Islamic World Studies.

We teach the fundamentals of each language, which include the ability to communicate and to navigate the culture. Each course is built around conversation, cutting-edge textbooks, and culturally authentic materials. You will learn how to use and evaluate digital resources in other languages. We have an interdisciplinary curriculum built around art, music, literature, cinema, philosophy, and other fields. Through small class sizes and frequent contact with your  teachers, you will learn the language in ways tailored to your own personal and academic interests.

Course Catalogue

Cocurricular Activities

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable ways of bridging cultures is through the cocurricular activities of our programs. These activities build community and enhance camaraderie in learning a new language. They provide fun and entertaining spaces in which to practice the language and learn about customs and traditions. They also serve as a way to engage with the diverse local communities. Our experiential activities include:

  • Language clubs
  • Weekly language tables
  • Radio shows 
  • Film nights
  • Cultural dinners and cooking lessons
  • Theatre performances
  • Game nights
  • Excursions: Syracuse Opera, museum exhibitions, Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox monastery

Cultural Courses in Translation

For those of you who are interested in learning more about a culture but who may not have language proficiency in German, Russian, Italian and Arabic, we offer courses taught in English. Some of these courses are writing intensive and will further develop your writing and communication skills, in addition to furthering cultural literacy. These courses count for majors and minors, and are open to all students. Advanced language students, who have attained a 200 level of proficiency, are encouraged to enroll both in the English content course as well as a 298 companion quarter-credit course, which will allow you the opportunity to continue your cultural studies in the target language one additional hour per week. 

Two students talking at a table in Commons dining hall.

Learning a Language at Hamilton

Amidst the bustling crowds at Commons and McEwen dining halls, language faculty and students sit around a table to enjoy a meal while conversing in their chosen studied language. Hamilton’s “language tables,” as they are known, provide both valuable speaking experience and community-building opportunities.


Contact Name

Marianne Janack

Acting Chair of the Department of German, Russian, Italian, and Arabic

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