Romance Languages and Literatures First Year Courses

Chair: H. Julien
Department Site

The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures strongly encourages first-year students to continue their previous language study to the highest possible level. We also encourage students to explore the study of other Romance languages offered by the department.

The aim of this department is to provide students with a solid foundation in the languages, literatures, and cultures of the French-, Italian-, and Spanish-speaking worlds. Language courses work to improve students’ abilities in speaking, comprehending, reading, and writing in French, Italian, or Spanish, while providing an introduction to culture. Structured in levels of increasing complexity, literature courses foster the improvement of analytical and critical skills, an enhanced aesthetic appreciation of works of literary art, and a broader understanding of linguistic and cultural diversity. Many of the courses offered in the department may be taken by students who do not plan to major or minor in French, Italian, or Spanish but who would like to maintain or develop their knowledge of these languages and cultures. Given the multi-cultural nature of the United States today, familiarity with a second language and culture will enhance a student’s preparation for a career in any profession. Advanced study of Spanish (300 level and higher) makes students eligible for the intimate contact with a foreign culture available through the department’s programs of study abroad. A major or minor in French, Italian, or Spanish is useful for many professions, including law, business, international trade, journalism, education, and public administration.

The department offers majors and minors in both French and Spanish, and a minor in Italian. Courses counting toward the  majors or minors are conducted entirely in the appropriate language.

Please note the following: (1) Students eligible to register for ITAL 122 without having had ITAL 121 must contact the instructor early to find out how they can most effectively prepare to enter this ongoing course in January. (2) Participation in the department's study abroad program in Madrid requires previous language study. See information at the end of the departmental description.

Advanced Placement

Colgate course credit is awarded to students receiving a score of 4 or 5 on the AP French Language or AP Spanish Language and Literature exams. Students receiving a 4 on the language or literature exams will receive credit for 202 in the appropriate department. Students receiving a score of 5 on the language or literature exams will receive credit for 361 in the appropriate department. Students will then normally register for courses at the next higher level. Students receive major or minor credit for an AP score of 5. See the Advanced Placement Credit Summary or consult with the department chair. 

Students who have learned a language in a non-academic way, such as lengthy foreign residence, or who have earned college credit in a language before matriculating at Colgate, should consult the department chair for placement.

Placement Guidelines

All students planning to study French, Italian, or Spanish must take the Placement exam before selecting the appropriate level course. Students who have questions about their exam results or who have general questions about language courses are encouraged to contact the department chair. In all matters of placement, the department makes the final determination. Be aware that some courses at Colgate are not offered both terms. ITAL 122 is usually offered only in the spring term. Please see our Placement Guideline page for detailed information.

Course Level Highest Placement Score Max Years of Study
121 1 2
122 3.5 3
201 4.5 4
202 5.5 5

Students who exceed these guidelines should register for a 300-level course.



Students who will have had a break in their language study of two years or more or who have SAT verbal scores below 450 may in some instances, with permission of the department chair, register for a course at a lower level than indicated above. 

Extra-curricular language fluency 

Majors and minors are offered in French and Spanish. The University Catalog has a complete description of the requirements for majors and minors, and first-year students who are interested should plan their courses accordingly. 

A foreign study program, open to non-majors as well as majors, is conducted in Spain. The Madrid program, composed mainly of juniors, requires work through the 300 level. More detailed information on this group and on prerequisites is available from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Options in French and Italian are available through Colgate's Approved Programs. Interested first-year students are also encouraged to attend the information meetings that are held during the academic year.

Click the links below to view FREN, ITAL, and SPAN courses available to the Class of 2028.

French Courses

Italian Courses

Spanish Courses