Academics > Curriculum

Educational Philosphy

  • Our approach: interactive, practical, skill-based to help you not "study" language but to breathe it, live it, and make it your own.
  • Our goals and objectives: after the first year, we want students to be functionally fluent, confident, with convincing accents, and proud of what they've done. By the end of their studies at Coe, we want student to have studied abroad, pursued their interests in and through language study, and know the options that have opened to them through their immersion in language and culture.
  • What we offer: mentoring every step of the way, lots of chances to improve your work, study abroad options, and a great experience.
  • What we expect: hard work, lots of practice, good humor, and your very, very best!

Unique Academic Opporunities

  • Yearly May Term trip to Spain.
  • Native speakers in French, German, Spanish, Japanese (and Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Nepali, on campus.)
  • Friday afternoon German coffee klatch.
  • Lunch olés with the Spanish club.
  • French conversation groups with native speakers.
  • Immersion trips to the local French bakery, apple orchard, Iowa City and Amana Colonies.
  • Dinners in faculty homes, crèpe soirées on campus, cheese tastings.
  • Foreign Language Film series and special guest lecturers.
  • Opportunity to qualify for an invitation in Pi Delta Phi, a national French honor society.
  • Opportunity to be published in Babel, a journal for creative writing in foreign languages.


FRENCH

French Major

Students who major in French complete a minimum of eight courses in French beyond Intermediate French II (FRE-225), though either French Literature in Translation (FRE-145,-146,-148) or France Today (FRE-158) may be taken as one of the eight. Study abroad is encouraged. By enrolling in a program approved by the College and the department, a student may earn up to three credits toward a major. One French literature course must be taken in the senior year.Students selecting French as a second teaching field should complete a minimum of four French courses numbered 315 or above. Any advanced courses taken for the second teaching field should include French Composition and Conversation (FRE-315).
A grade of “C” or higher must be received in all courses counted toward the French major.

French Minor

The minor in French consists of four courses beyond Intermediate French II (FRE-225), though either French Literature in Translation (FRE-145,-146,-148) or France Today (FRE-158) may be taken as one of the four.
A grade of “C” or higher must be received in all courses counted toward the French minor.

Elementary Education Emphasis in French

The elementary education emphasis in French requires completion of the courses listed for the minor.

French Studies Major

The French Studies major requires: 1) successful completion of either four French courses numbered 315 or above (i.e., a minor), though France Today (FRE-158) is recommended as a substitute for one of the four), or four courses taught in French at any level and a departmentally approved term-long study abroad experience; and 2) successful completion of a departmentally approved list of five courses proposed by the student which exhibits both internal coherence and relevance to the course work in French. Typically, application to the department for the approval of the interdisciplinary elected courses is to be made no later than the Spring Term of the junior year.

A grade of “C” or higher must be received in all courses counted toward the French Studies major.

Courses in French

FRE-115 Elementary French
This course will take you from your first "bonjour" to a solid, practical foundation in French, with particular emphasis on listening, speaking, and pronunciation skills. French 125 will focus on actually performing in French, really asking directions, having conversations, getting things done WITHOUT using the book as a crutch. Be prepared to come and class and close your book, get out of your seat, and start practicing what you've learned right away. By the end of the year, you'll be able to make small talk, order at a restaurant, find a place to live, go shopping for clothes, invite others out, give orders, compliments, and insults. Come ready to work hard and play hard.

FRE-125 Elementary French II
French 125 is the second course in the language series and prerequisite to French 215 (offered in the fall). It serves both true beginners as well as those who have studied some French in the past. Class time will be fully devoted to actively practicing the material studied for homework so that what is learned becomes etched in your very bones and stay with you. Expect a very active, lively, and fast-moving class packed with activities that target all learning styles. By the end of the first year of French (FRE 115 and 125), students should be able to do the following: understand and respond to basic conversational French accurately and with an appropriate accent in at least two registers (formal and informal); read simple texts ranging from magazine articles, descriptions, ads, letters, and short essays; write short essays, descriptions, letters, and stories in at least two registers (formal and informal) in clear French with a minimum of grammatical errors, and feel very confident in their abilities.


FRE-215 Intermediate French I

French 215 (Intermediate French I) is the third course in the elementary language series and prerequisite to French 225 (offered in the spring). It serves students who have successfully completed French 125 (or equivalent) or studied all grammar typically taught in college-level first-year French courses. This course is taught entirely in French after day 1.

Class time will be fully devoted to actively practicing the material studied for homework. The role of the professor is not lecture, but to provide opportunities to practice the material learned outside class and hold students to learning it well. Why do we do it this way? Since the goal is for you to develop some level of proficiency (actually being able to function in the language), there simply isn't enough class time to talk ABOUT French. We need to use class time to DO French for as many hours as we can. Here's why: According to the U.S. State Dept. Foreign Service Institute, it takes approximately 400 classroom hours (and many more hours outside class) to attain Limited Working Proficiency in a language like French. Limited Working Proficiency means the language skills one would need to perform a job and interact with coworkers in the workplace. Here at Coe, language students typically receive 80-90 hours of instruction in one academic year. The course is designed for your success IF you put the effort into learning and practicing what you know.

By the end of the semester, students should be able to do the following:
-Understand and respond to basic conversational French accurately and with an appropriate accent in at least two registers (formal and informal).
-Read simple texts ranging from magazine articles, descriptions, ads, letters, and short essays.
-Write short essays, descriptions, letters, and stories in at least two registers (formal and informal) in clear French with a minimum of grammatical errors.


FRE-225 Intermediate French II

French 225 is the fourth course in the Elementary/Intermediate French course sequence and is intended for students who have successfully completed French 215 or studied all grammar typically taught in college level first-year French courses. The course begins with a review of the grammar taught in Elementary French I & II. We will then cover chapters 8, 9, 10 and the Chapitre de révision in our textbook, Horizons. This course is taught entirely in French after day 1. This is a discussion-based course, meaning the majority of class time will be devoted to practicing your speaking skills. For each class session you will be asked to prepare one or several oral topics in advance, which you will share with the class. The materials and overall course in general will be significantly more challenging than Intermediate French I. Prepare = practice, practice, and practice again until you can give a fluid, polished performance you are proud of.


FRE-335 French Composition and Conversation

Contrary to what you may think, you already possess most of the tools needed to be an effective communicator in French. You just need a little more practice combining all the parts. As stated in the course title, the main objective of this course is to hone your speaking and writing skills. You will have numerous opportunities to develop these skills through daily speaking exercises, presentations, interviews, group writing projects, compositions and conversations with a language exchange partner via Skype. French 335 is the first course of the advanced course sequence of French. The prerequisite is either French 215 or 225, or placement. Students taking this class are expected to have a solid background in French grammar and vocabulary and be able to function at an intermediate level of French based on ACTFL language proficiency descriptions. French 335 is a prerequisite for Introduction to Literature and all other upper level courses in literature and culture.


FR 335
Introduction to French Literature is designed to teach the basics of literary analysis and refine skills in reading and writing through a study of literary texts in six different genres (short story, poetry, theatre, essay, novel, and film) embedded in their cultural and historical contexts. This course will also offer close instruction on how to write, revise, and edit longer papers in French. It is a prerequisite for all other upper-level courses in French, and its goal is to provide a smooth transition from intermediate level language courses to content courses in literature and culture.


FRE-145 French Literature in Translation: Literary Paris
Paris is haunted by the literature that transformed the city into a myth. Quasimodo lurks the towers of Notre Dame while Baudelaire can be glimpsed strolling along the Seine. Existentialists in black turtlenecks try not lose themselves in a haze of bad faith at Café Flore. The Bald Soprano still sings. This course will be a literary pilgrimage through post-revolutionary Paris. We'll read works by Süskind, Hugo, Balzac, Baudelaire, Zola, Apollinaire, Nemirovsky, Ionesco (and others), and see films that feature the city as both site and subject of contemplation. Only prerequisite: a deep love of literature......


FRE- 405 Reinventing the Novel

How does the telling of tales, the most common form of narrative, become a literary genre? How have cultural forces shaped it over time? This course, organized as a seminar, will trace the lineage of fiction in France from its medieval origins to present forms. We'll explore medieval and renaissance debates between feudal love and loyalties, the intense psychological tales of forbidden passion from the 17th century, scathingly sarcastic enlightenment tales, exotic travel stories, contes fantastiques of the 19th century, and francophone voices of the 20th. We will examine the anatomy of the conte and the novel, do close readings, practice translations, play with multiple theoretical interpretations, and write our own collection of tales, modeled on the genres and examples we read.


FRE- 432 French/Francophone Cinema and Contemporary Culture

Why is film in France more art than entertainment? How does cinema provide continuity between France’s literary and popular culture, its past and its present? How is it used to define “Frenchness” and what is its role in la mission civilisatrice? This course, taught entirely in French, is centered around eight films that highlight major movements in French and francophone film history in order to better understand key historical, political, and cultural aspects of contemporary France and the francophone world.


The Art of Translation

This course is designed to offer students a more holistic understanding of French through a close examination of the evolution, ideology, and structures of the language as well as through intensive practice of the art of translating it in a variety of forms and media. By the end of this course, students will be better able to explore (and exploit!) the linguistic and semantic possibilities of French in oral and written communication.


FRE- 438 Women in French

From queens and poets, adulteresses and revolutionaries, warriors and artists, writers and workers, saints and the debauched, this course examines the texts and contexts of women's impact on the literature and history of France. We will explore how women in different times and situations have confronted and dealt with the legal and social limitations on their persons because of their gender. This survey of women's writing includes novels and memoires, poems and letters, essays, declarations, and films to demonstrate the wealth and variety of women's expression in France and the francophone world.


FRE- 442 Francophone Voices

What does it mean to be "French" in the 21st century when France is becoming increasingly multiethnic and multicultural? What exactly is "la francophonie" and the relationship between France and its former colonies? Is it possible for francophone writers to overcome the history of colonization and speak in authentic voices? Can France resolve questions of immigration and assimilation without violence? This course seeks to address these questions by exploring France's colonial experiments and their literary legacies in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific through carefully selected novels and films from Cameroun, Senegal, Canada, Morocco, and Martinique.


FRE- 495 Topics in French/Francophone Literatures, and Cultures


Topic courses include: Advanced Language Skills, 19th Century Poetry and Painting, Love and War, French theatre: from medieval farce to the absurd, Business French.


GERMAN

German Major

The German major offers the opportunity to perfect one’s skills in spoken and written German and to study a range of vital issues in Central European culture and how those issues relate to us. It prepares the student for graduate or professional study in several disciplines or for work in an international context. Students who major in German complete a minimum of eight German courses numbered 315 or above. Students are urged to substitute study abroad in a program approved by the college and the department for up to three of these courses. One German literature course must be taken in the senior year.

Students selecting German as a second teaching field should complete a minimum of four German courses numbered 315 or above. Any advanced courses taken for the second teaching field should include German Composition and Conversation (GER-315).

A grade of “C” or higher must be received in all courses counted toward the German major.

German Minor

The minor in German consists of four courses numbered GER-315 or above.
A grade of “C” or higher must be received in all courses counted toward the German minor.

Elementary Education Emphasis in German

The elementary education emphasis in German requires completion of the courses listed for the minor.

German Studies Major

Synthesizing work across such disciplines as language, literature, history, political science, art, philosophy and religion, the German Studies major requires: 1) successful completion of either four German courses numbered 315 or above (i.e., a minor) or four courses taught in German at any level and a departmentally approved term-long study abroad experience; and 2) successful completion of a departmentally approved list of five courses proposed by the student which exhibit both internal coherence and relevance to the course work in German. Typically, application to the department for the approval of the interdisciplinary elected courses is to be made no later than the spring term of the junior year.

A grade of “C” or higher must be received in all courses counted toward the German Studies major.

Courses in German

GER-108 Images of Foreign Culture
See FRE-108, p. 79

GER-115 Elementary German I
Beginning German speaking, reading, and writing.

GER-125 Elementary German II
Continuing study of German speaking, reading, and writing. Prerequisite: Elementary German I (GER- 115) or consent of instructor.

GER-148 German Literature in Translation
Reading, in translation, of a selection of works by German authors, from the brothers Grimm to Kafka to contemporary writers. Taught in English.

GER-158 Germany Today
An interdisciplinary survey of topics and issues central to an understanding of contemporary Germany: social, cultural, and political. Films and speakers are included in the format of this course. Taught in English.

GER-168 Holocaust and Memory
An investigation of the European Holocaust through films, novels, short stories, nonfiction memoirs, monuments, museums, and class visitors. Taught in English.

GER-215 Intermediate German
Reading and discussion of intermediate-level German texts, review of structures and syntax with written and oral practice. Prerequisite: Elementary German II (GER-125) or consent of instructor.

GER-315 German Composition and Conversation
A culture-based course that emphasizes speaking, writing, and review of grammar, with class presentations, peer-feedback on compositions, and guest speakers. Prerequisite: Intermediate German (GER-215) or consent of instructor.

GER-315 German Composition and Conversation
Where students begin when they've had several years of high-school German, this is a fun, multifaceted culture course built around the web. Students go on web-quests each day to sites in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Each week we're reviewing grammar and practicing a different sort of writing based on the topics of the week's web adventures. In German.

GER-325 Texts in Social Context
This is an introduction to literature and film that gets students thinking about how stories intersect with people's lives. We read most short fiction, most of it fairly recent, and ask what it can tell us about the choices people make in their lives. Grammar review too. After this you're ready for the upper-level curriculum. In German.

GER-405 Technology and Modernity
A love letter to a typewriter. A story about a train wreck. Cyborgs. The nuclear threat. This course looks at a particular preoccupation of modern literature: how people relate to the machines they make. In every case the literature of the mechanical world tells us something fascinating about the world of people. In German.

GER-435 The Child as Citizen
This is a children's literature course with a twist. Here we look at childhood as an object of memory and as an imagined construct. We read everything from Struwwelpeter's and Max and Moritz's naughty 19th-century brats to a funny memoir set in post-World-War-II Austria to investigate how authors use childhood to model inappropriate and appropriate behavior in a community. In German.

GER-445 Race, Class, and Gender
Despite its image in beer ads, Germany can be a remarkably multicultural place, with thriving immigrant cultures originally from Turkey, Bosnia, Vietnam, many African countries. Through essays, films, fiction, and memoirs, this course takes aim on these subcultures as well as on divisions of gender and social class. In German.

GER-455 Deutsch-Amerika
A high point of this course is a very funny novel in the form of letters from an Iowa immigrant farmer written home to his former teacher in Germany. With Mark Twain-wit the farmer acutely observes his new life. Originally thought to be pure fiction, it turns out that at least some of actually happened and not far from Cedar Rapids. We take a trip to the cemetery where "characters" from the "novel" are actually buried. In German.

GER-465 Ghosts and Madness
More than just fun to read about, ghosts are a serious topic in German history. Two hundred years ago the literature of supernatural occurrences--ghost sightings, magic, alchemy, interspecies communication--encoded a whole world view with real-world political battle lines. We crack the code in this class and get a great historical introduction to the literature of the late-18th and early-19th centuries. In German.

GER-475 Nation and Narration
In this course we look at the changing national self-invention of a country that didn't exist as a political unit until the end of the 19th century. We begin with the 18th-century rediscovery and reinvention of the Germans of Caesar's time, read efforts to create a nation based on culture, learn about National Socialist nationalism, and end up with the retreat to the countryside in postwar film and literature. In German.

GER-485 Topics in German Literature
Centers on a theme, time period, or genre of German literature. Approach and contexts vary from term to term and are determined by the instructor. Prerequisite: Texts in Social Context (GER-325) or consent of instructor.

GER-8_5 Independent Study
For outstanding senior majors in German. Independent investigation of a selected project in German under the direction of a faculty member of the department. Prerequisite: consent of department.

GER-845, -855 Directed Reading
For students wishing to pursue independent investigation of some special phase of German literature and for majors in other fields who wish to study works of German authorities on their subject. Prerequisite: Intermediate German (GER-215) or consent of instructor.

GER-895 Internship in German
Exploration of a career related to German. A minimum of 140 hours on-site experience is required. S/U basis only. Application and supervision through the Director of Internships. This course does not satisfy any of the requirements for a major in German. Prerequisites: junior standing and consent of department.

SPANISH

Spanish Major

Students who major in Spanish complete a minimum of eight courses in Spanish beyond Intermediate Spanish II (SPA-225), though Spanish Literature in Translation (SPA-148) may be taken as one of the eight. Elementary Spanish I (SPA-115), Elementary Spanish II (SPA-125) and Spanish Review and Preparation (SPA-135) are not counted toward the Spanish major, but are regarded rather as skill courses preliminary to undertaking the major. Spanish students are urged to substitute study abroad in a program approved by the College and the department for up to three of these courses. One Hispanic literature course (SPA-336 or above) must be taken in the senior year.

Students selecting Spanish as a second teaching field should complete a minimum of four Spanish courses numbered 315 or above. Any advanced courses taken for the second teaching field should include Spanish Composition and Conversation (SPA-315).

A grade of “C” or higher must be received in all courses counted toward the Spanish major.

Spanish Minor

The minor in Spanish requires the completion of four courses beyond Intermediate Spanish II (SPA-225), though with the consent of department, Spanish Literature in Translation (SPA-148) may be taken as one of the four. Elementary Spanish I (SPA-115), Elementary Spanish II (SPA-125) and Spanish Review and Preparation (SPA-135) are not counted toward the Spanish minor.

A grade of “C” or higher must be received in all courses counted toward the Spanish minor.
Elementary Education Emphasis in Spanish
The elementary education emphasis in Spanish requires completion of the courses listed for the minor.

Spanish Studies Major

The Spanish Studies major requires: 1) successful completion of four courses beyond Intermediate Spanish II (SPA-225), with Hispanic Life and Culture (SPA-336,-338) recommended as one of the four; and 2) successful completion of a departmentally approved list of five courses proposed by the student which exhibits both internal coherence and relevance to the course work in Spanish. Typically, application to the department for the approval of the interdisciplinary elected courses is to be made no later than the Spring Term of the junior year.

A grade of “C” or higher must be received in all courses counted toward the Spanish Studies major.

Courses in Spanish

SPA-108 Images of Foreign Culture
See FRE-108, p. 79

SPA-115,-125 Elementary Spanish I and II
Designed for students with no previous knowledge of Spanish. In the first term, emphasis is placed on oral practice and exposure to varied aspects of Hispanic culture. Assignments and activities are designed to develop the student’s proficiency in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing the Spanish language. In the second term these skills are developed further, in the context of class discussion and short reading and writing assignments.

SPA-135 Spanish Review and Preparation
Designed to prepare students who have had some limited experience in Spanish to enter SPA-215 the following term. Strong students with one year of secondary school Spanish should enter this course. This class is also appropriate for students with two years of secondary school Spanish or for those for whom some time has elapsed since their earlier study of Spanish. This course provides review and elementary college-level preparation in Spanish grammar, vocabulary, speaking, and writing.

SPA-148 Spanish Literature in Translation
Reading, in translation, of a selection of works by major Hispanic authors. Content varies from term to term. In most cases selections center on a theme, a time period, or a genre. Contact the instructor for specific information about course content. Students preparing a Spanish major or minor must write a paper in Spanish. Taught in English.

SPA-215,-225 Intermediate Spanish I and II
Continuation of Elementary Spanish, with emphasis on oral practice and a review of grammatical structures. Prerequisite: Elementary Spanish II (SPA-125) or Spanish Review and Preparation (SPA-135) or consent of instructor.

SPA-315 Spanish Composition and Conversation
A course stressing the skills of speaking and writing. Some third-year grammar is studied, with an emphasis on the key problematic structures of the Spanish language. Students write frequent compositions, and class time concentrates on conversational activities.

SPA-325 Spanish Language and Literature
Continuation of Spanish Composition and Conversation, with an emphasis on speaking and writing. A wide range of short literary texts is also studied.

SPA-336 Hispanic Life and Culture: Latin America
An interdisciplinary overview of the culture and civilization of Latin America as portrayed in literature, art, architecture, and film. Particular attention is given to the way the past has created and shaped contemporary Hispanic culture in Latin America.

SPA-338 Hispanic Life and Culture: Europe
Same as Hispanic Life and Culture (SPA-336) except focus of the course is European culture and civilization as portrayed in literature, art, architecture, and film. Particular attention is given to the way the past has created and shaped Hispanic culture in Spain.

SPA-345 Introduction to Hispanic Literature
An introduction to the study of Peninsular and Spanish-American literary works, with an emphasis on basic critical concepts, terminology, and methods. A wide range of texts is studied, beginning with poems and short narratives, and ending with longer works. Prerequisite: Spanish Composition and Conversation (SPA-315) or Spanish Language and Literature (SPA-325). (Offered alternate years)

SPA-346 Introduction to Hispanic Literature: Non-Western Perspectives
Same as Introduction to Hispanic Literature (SPA-345) except focus of the course is related to non-Western cultures.
SPA-416 Spanish American Short Story of Fantasy
An introduction to the modern literature of Spanish America. Readings include a wide range of short narratives with an emphasis on those of the past 50 years. Particular attention is given to the treatment of the supernatural in fiction and its relation to social context. Prerequisite: Spanish Composition and Conversation (SPA-315) or Spanish Language and Literature (SPA-325).

SPA-426 Spanish American Short Fiction: Realism
An introduction to the modern literature of Spanish America. Readings include short stories and selected novels with an emphasis on those written after 1950. Particular attention is given to the presentation of social problems and issues in realistic fiction. Prerequisite: Spanish Composition and Conversation (SPA-315) or Spanish Language and Literature (SPA-325).

SPA-435 Spanish Fiction of the 20th Century
An introduction to the modern literature of Spain. Readings include short stories and selected novels with an emphasis on those since the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Particular attention is given to the effect of the Spanish Civil War on the literature of contemporary Spain. Prerequisite: Spanish Composition and Conversation (SPA-315) or Spanish Language and Literature (SPA-325).

SPA-445 Masterpieces of Spanish Literature
A survey of the most famous literary works of Spain throughout its history. All works from early periods are read in modern Spanish, and in the case of large works, short segments are read. Texts include selections from Lazarillo de Tormes and Don Quixote, and representative works of Larra, Garcia Lorca, Cela, and others. Prerequisite: Spanish Composition and Conversation (SPA-315) or Spanish Language and Literature (SPA-325).

SPA-455 Hispanic Drama
An introduction to Spanish theatre and the various techniques, themes, and images used to express, criticize, or romanticize Hispanic society and life. Prerequisite: Spanish Composition and Conversation (SPA-315) or Spanish Language and Literature (SPA-325).

SPA-456 Hispanic Drama: Latin America
Same as Hispanic Drama (SPA-455) except focus of course is Latin American theatre.

SPA-465 Hispanic Poetry
An introduction to Spanish poetry and the various techniques and images used to portray Hispanic society and life in verse. Prerequisite: Spanish Composition and Conversation (SPA-315) or Spanish Language and Literature (SPA-325).

SPA-466 Hispanic Poetry: Latin America
Same as Hispanic Poetry (SPA-465) except focus of course is Latin American poetry.

SPA-475,-485 Topics in Hispanic Literature
A course of narrowed focus that centers on a theme, region, time period, or genre of Hispanic literature. Approach and content varies from term to term as determined by the instructor. May be taken twice, provided the topics are substantially different. Prerequisite: Spanish Composition and Conversation (SPA-315) or Spanish Language and Literature (SPA-325).

SPA-476,-486 Topics in Hispanic Literature: Latin America
Same as Topics in Hispanic Literature (SPA-475, -485) except the focus of the course is Latin American culture.

SPA-845,-855 Directed Reading
For students wishing to investigate a particular aspect of Spanish literature unavailable through the regular sequence of courses offered. Periodic conferences and papers are required. May be taken for credit more than once. Prerequisite: Spanish Composition and Conversation (SPA-315) or Spanish Language and Literature (SPA-325).

SPA-8_5 Independent Study
Independent investigation of a selected project in Spanish under the direction of a faculty member of the department. Prerequisite: consent of department.

SPA-895 Internship in Spanish
Exploration of a career area related to Spanish.