At Marlboro College we are committed to support language study for all of our students. We offer Chinese, Spanish and French as core languages supported by regular faculty members. This course of study is intended to facilitate language proficiency and to contextualize and analyze issues relevant to the communities where those languages are spoken. In addition to these three core languages, Marlboro offers Greek and Latin, supported by our Oxford Classics fellows, and sometimes Arabic, through a Fulbright teaching fellow.

At Marlboro we believe that the study of languages:

  • Develops and supports complex thinking, communication and analysis.
  • Opens students' minds to interdisciplinary thought and views.
  • Opens avenues to culture, literature, philosophy and other subjects that are unavailable if only approached in English.
  • Prepares students for study abroad and the internship portion of the World Studies Program.

Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL)

We eagerly support students who wish to study languages not regularly taught at Marlboro if they apply and are approved through criteria set by the Language Committee. Students who are interested in studying a language not regularly taught at Marlboro College should keep in mind the following observations on self-directed language study. 

The self-directed learner must:

• have a long-term commitment to self-disciplined study of the language.

• have good study habits (learning material prior to each tutorial).

• view the daily use of audio & video materials as central, not peripheral.

• keep in mind that English is not the language of instruction, and is very seldom used in tutorial sessions.

• understand that this course of study focuses student's ability to actively use the target language.

Each students' progress will reflect their comprehension and pronunciation of the language, their control of its structure, the accuracy of their language use and the cultural authenticity of a student's delivery in paralinguistic terms (such as gesture).

Summer Language Grants

Summer language grants are awarded to continuing Marlboro students to pursue language study off-campus during the summer break. The goal of summer language grants is to give students a means whereby they can develop skills in languages not regularly offered at the college. The language study should be integrated into the academic program of the student, and intensive immersion programs are recommended.

If you are considering learning a less commonly taught language at Marlboro, or if you are considering applying for a summer language grant, it is important that you contact the language committee during the prior semester. For questions, ask

Language Committee

The Language Committee is dedicated to supporting the study of languages not regularly taught at Marlboro College. The committee oversees the instruction of these languages, as well as summer language grants, and works in tandem with the Curriculum Committee and the dean of faculty to provide a complete curriculum. The Language Committee consists of two of the faculty members teaching language (with each faculty member serving a two-year term every three years), one faculty representative of the Committee for World Studies, two students elected by Town Meeting and a staff member representing information technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. If I want to learn a different language, could I apply even if I am a first year student?

In general, we recommend that students get acquainted with language study at Marlboro prior to applying for a less commonly taught language class. However, all applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Final acceptance is at the discretion of the Language Committee.

2. What happens if I miss the deadline?

Usually your application will be accepted, but may not be considered until the following semester. See a member of the Language Committee.

3. What happens if I want to study a language in the summer? Do I have any options?

Marlboro offers summer language grants, and there are plenty of other language opportunities available to you. See a member of the Language Committee for more information.

4. What if I just want to better my language skills during the summer?

In that case it might also be better to apply for a Summer Language Grant. However, you might end up on your own for this.

5. What happens if I have needed to study a language because it is pertinent to my Plan, but my level is not high; I can communicate verbally but cannot read or write long documents, could I write it in my Plan’s degree field?

Most likely not. Talk to your Plan Sponsor(s).

6. How are the less commonly taught languages graded?

The same scale as any other tutorial or language class at Marlboro (A-F). Participation, effort, homeworks (if applicable), and a self-evaluation at the end of the course are all considered when determining your grade.

7. What happens if I am enrolled in a tutorial but I have not attended classes with my tutor?

Barring extenuating circumstances, you will receive a Failing grade in the tutorial, and be ineligible for future less commonly taught language courses.

8. What happens if I fail in my tutorial?

The grade is recorded as normal. Barring extenuating circumstances, you will be ineligible for future less commonly taught language courses.

9. What happens if I don’t like my class?

If it is early enough in the semester (ie. before the Add/Drop date) you should be able to Drop the course. After the Add/Drop date, you may be able to Withdraw from the class. Depending on your case, you can get either a Withdraw Pass or Withdraw Fail. If you must withdraw, you will most likely be ineligible for future less commonly taught language classes.

10. Are there other opportunities for learning languages outside of self-directed study?

There are! The closest is the School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro. See their website at Other opportunities may be available. See the director of international services for more information.



Grant Li

Fostering a deep appreciation for the fundamental similarities between languages.

Faculty Listing


Rosario de Swanson

Helping students to test and trust their own ideas, and find their own voice in a second language.

Faculty Listing

Degree Fields