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Grant Li (Chinese & Linguistics)
Rosario M. de Swanson (Spanish Language & Literature)
Classics Fellow
Arabic Fellow

Grant Li (Chinese & Linguistics)

China is one of the world's oldest and richest continuous cultures, over 5,000 years old. It is the most populous nation in the world, with over one billion people. The study of the Chinese language opens the way to different important fields such as Chinese politics, economy, history, archaeology, etc. Knowing Chinese language greatly facilitates our understanding of Chinese culture and people. Courses in Chinese are designed to help students acquire proficiency in the Chinese language. All Chinese classes aim to develop students' communicative skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. First-year and second-year Chinese are offered regularly every year. Higher-level Chinese courses are offered as tutorials as needed.

Language is one of the most fundamental human instincts. It is an extraordinarily intricate system that all of us master as young children without special teaching, and that gives us the ability to communicate, tell stories and express our deepest feelings. Linguistics is the scientific study of this human language ability. It is concerned with describing languages and with understanding our knowledge of language as speakers and how we come to have that knowledge. It is connected to many other fields of study, including psychology, anthropology, sociology, biology, physics, mathematics, computer science, philosophy and literature. Courses in linguistics aim to develop analytical skills, focusing on areas of syntax, semantics, and comparative syntax from theoretical and formal perspectives. All classes help students to read scholarly literature critically and work on problems of English and other languages.

Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:


  • Chinese: writing or translation
  • Interdisciplinary study involving Chinese language, literature, and/or culture

Theoretical Linguistics

  • Syntax
  • Morphology
  • Phonology
  • Semantics
  • Comparative linguistics
  • Diachronic syntax
  • Interdisciplinary study related to language structure


Starting Points (Basic and Introductory Courses)

This series is for beginners. It is designed to help students develop communicative competence in the basic skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students will learn basic vocabulary and sentence structures used in everyday situations through various forms of oral practice. Pinyin (the most widely used Chinese phonetic system) will be taught as a tool to learn the spoken language. Students will also learn Chinese characters in order to be able to communicate effectively in real situations. While linguistic aspects of the Chinese language are the primary focus, introduction to the social and cultural background of the language will also form an important part of the course. Prerequisite: None  Introductory - Intermediate | 4 credits  Introductory, variable credits Intermediate  (Linguistics courses may be offered as tutorials)

This course is a clear introduction to English phonetics and phonology. Students are guided step-by-step through the main concepts and techniques of phonetic and phonological analysis. It provides the essential knowledge and skills for those embarking on the study of English sounds. Prerequisite: None   Introductory / 2 credits

Morphology is the study of how words are formed. This course introduces the terms and concepts necessary for analyzing words. Topics such as the mental lexicon, derivation, compounding, inflection, morphological typology, productivity, and the interface of morphology with syntax and phonology expose students to the whole of the field. Prerequisite: None    Introductory | 2 credits

Semantics is the study of the literal meaning of words and the meaning of the way words are combined. This course is a practical introduction to topics in formal semantics. It aims to provide a good understanding of a range of semantic phenomena and issues in semantics, using a truth-conditional account of meaning. The topics include modality and possible worlds, counterfactuals, generalized quantifiers, aktionsarten and event semantics, opacity and specificity, tense and aspect. Prerequisite: None    Introductory / 2 credits

This course is an introduction to the structure of sentences. It should be of interest to anyone who
gets excited about language and wants to know more about it, whether you study English or want
to teach English as a second language. It is also for students with an interest in linguistics. Many
exercises focus on linguistic analysis and argumentation. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | 2 credits

Pursuing Interests (Intermediate and Thematic Courses)

This series follows Practical Chinese Series. Students will continue to learn more skills of listening,
speaking, reading and writing for daily communication. To meet the students’ needs, the course
may focus more on readings of contemporary essays, conversations about Chinese culture, listening
to Chinese in its natural setting, preparation of Chinese proficiency tests, writing in Chinese, or a
balanced approach to all of them. Prerequisite: Practical Chinese Series    Intermediate - Advanced | variable credits
Intermediate and advance courses in linguistics are offered as tutorials as requested.


Good Foundation for Plan

Plan work in Chinese generally involves writing in Chinese on topics related to Chinese language,
literature, and/or culture, or translation of writings in any liberal arts fields. In both cases, proficiency
in Chinese language is essential. In linguistics, students are encouraged to take all core courses
of theoretical linguistics to build a solid foundation. Plan work is normally advised on topics in
theoretical and/or comparative analyses in syntax, phonology, morphology, semantics or diachronic

Sample Tutorial Topics

  • Readings in Chinese culture
  • Listening and speaking Chinese
  • Preposition stranding in language
  • Comparative Syntax

Rosario M. de Swanson (Spanish Language & Literature)

Aside from being a very beautiful language with many registers and nuances, a large body of the best literary work has been, and continues to be, written in Spanish; meanwhile Spanish-language films continue to receive praise from the film critics and viewers. Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the United States today and one of the three most spoken languages in the world. As such, Spanish has become an integral part of civic engagement and of global citizenship. Spanish is an important component of one's career whether one's interests include government, law, business, international affairs, education, journalism, medicine or the performing arts.

At Marlboro College we offer a course of study intended both to facilitate language proficiency and to contextualize and analyze issues relevant to Spanish speakers abroad and in the U.S.—such as migration, cultural differences and imperialism. Learning Spanish at Marlboro is fun because it is supplemented by study abroad and by many local trips and engagement with nearby Latino communities. Engagement of the larger college community in the interests of our students and faculty through lectures, films, Spanish conversation and other extracurricular activities is also central to our program. In addition to providing opportunities for learning on campus, we strongly recommend that students study off campus in a Spanish-speaking context in order to enhance their language skills and to forge their own connections to place through language. Intermediate and advanced-level courses adopt a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, including literary studies, film and media studies, social history, political analysis and gender perspective.

Courses in the elementary and intermediate levels aim to develop proficiency and accuracy in the five core skill areas: speaking, reading, writing, grammar and awareness of cultural and linguistic diversity within the Spanish speaking world. The overarching aim of courses in the upper levels is to develop engagement with writing as a process for intellectual inquiry where students learn to read critically and write clearly while incorporating and testing theoretical perspectives and methodological tools.

Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:

  • Afro-Hispanic and Caribbean literature, culture and music
  • Mexican, Indigenista and contemporary indigenous literature
  • Feminist and post-colonial theory
  • Latino/a and Chicano/a literature

Starting Points (Basic and Introductory Courses)

This intensive, rapid introduction to Spanish grammar is designed for the novice student of Spanish or for students having completed up to three years of basic Spanish language in high school. This rigorous course is part of a year-long program that will enable you to reach the same proficiency level as students completing the first two semesters of elementary Spanish language. Equal emphasis will be placed on the development of the four language skills—listening, reading, writing, speaking—plus culture. The course will integrate regular lab activities requiring internet access. Conducted in Spanish. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 6

This is a language course for first-year students of Spanish and is designed to aid development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. It covers basic grammar along with a variety of vocabulary and cultural topics, and it prepares students for the second-semester Spanish course. Prerequisite: none    Introductory | Credits: 4

A fast-paced continuation of first semester Intensive Elementary Spanish. An intensive grammar study, with particular attention to speaking, reading, writing, and culture. Prerequisite: Spanish I with a passing grade of C+ or better, or the equivalent (two semesters of college-level Spanish and/or four years of high school Spanish)     Introductory | Credits: 6

Offers a dynamic and interactive introduction to Spanish and Spanish American cultures. The course covers the basic grammar structures of the Spanish language through extensive use of video, classroom practice and weekly conversation sessions with a native-speaking language assistant. It is a continuation of Spanish I. Prerequisite: Prior semester Spanish or some Spanish     Intermediate | Credits: 4

Strives for mastery of complex grammatical structures and continues work on writing and reading skills. Frequent compositions, selected literary readings, class discussions and debates on films and current events. It meets two or three times a week as a class and an extra 50 minute section with a language assistant, to be arranged. Prerequisite: At least two consecutive semesters of college Spanish or equivalent     Intermediate | Credits: 4

Intermediate Spanish II is a course for students who have completed Intermediate Spanish I or have been deemed proficient enough for this class after taking an introductory Spanish placement test and talking to the professor about prior course work. If you are taking Spanish for the first time at Marlboro College, you need to talk to the professor. Intermediate Spanish II builds on and expands the language skills acquired in Intermediate Spanish I. It combines an extensive grammar review while focusing on all relevant language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Culture is integrated in all aspects of the program; therefore, we will have critical discussions about the culture of different countries of the Spanish speaking world. Frequent compositions, selected literary readings, class discussions and debates on films and current events. It meets two or three times a week as a class and an extra 50 minutes sections with a language assistant, to be arranged. Prerequisite: Two semesters of college Spanish or equivalent    Intermediate | Credits: 4

Pursuing Interests (Intermediate and Thematic Courses)

This course presents an overview of the cultural heritage of the Spanish American peoples from the pre-Columbian period to the present. We will begin the course by studying the indigenous cultures and the Spanish conquest of the Americas. We will then examine the wars of independence and the process of nation building. The course ends by revisiting the Spanish American nations in the age of globalization and provides information about the Hispanic population living in the United States. Readings from the textbookLatinoamérica: Su civilización y su cultura will provide an overview of Spanish American histories. Videos, films, art and music will supplement the readings and enable us to more closely examine important concepts that have shaped Spanish America through the centuries: cultural and religious syncretism, the artist's role in society, social class and ethnicity, civilization vs. barbarism and the resistance of cultural minorities.    Intermediate | Credits: 4

Although this course is centered on written expression in Spanish, conversation and discussion of short stories from selected Latin American and Spanish writers will serve as models for writing styles. The course briefly reviews difficult grammatical structures or idiomatic usages, sentence and paragraph structure and making smooth transitions through writing. Using the selected literary texts, we will write short descriptions and narratives, learn how to incorporate dialogue in a short story as well as styles for personal or business correspondence. We will analyze literary texts, do library research and draft and complete full literary research papers. Students will comment on each other's work in the classroom to practice techniques of self-editing and self-criticism. This course serves as one of the foundations for advanced literary studies in Spanish. Writing and speaking intensive. Prerequisite: at least three semesters of college Spanish/equivalent, or permission of instructor     Intermediate | Credits: 4

This course will equip students of Spanish with a variety of skills that prepare them for upper-division courses. The course centers on the use of literary theory in literary analysis. It will include: practice in critical reading and writing; study of figures of speech, rhetoric and style; presentation of oral reports; and use of library resources. In addition, students will acquire basic knowledge of the geography, history and culture of the Hispanic world. Prerequisite: Four semesters of college-level Spanish, or the equivalent, or permission of instructor     Advanced | Credits: 4

&Culture and a course in Hispanic culture. Advanced (Spanish) literature students should not enroll in this course. Prerequisite: Four semesters of college-level Spanish, or the equivalent, or permission of instructorIntroductory | Credits: 4

&literature of the Nahua, Maya and Inca peoples on the territory that after the conquest came to be known as Spanish America; we will then move on to examine accounts of the discovery, conquest and colonization; we will conclude the course with the writings produced in the age of Spanish American emancipation. In class, we will read letters, chronicals, stories, poems, novels and essays that in one way or another helped define an entire continent. It is hoped that through these readings the students learn to place the text within its literary, historical and cultural context, we will also learn to identify the common themes, the voices and the complex historical conditions under which these texts emerge. Given the scope of the course and the period studied, attendance and punctual and careful reading of the assigned material is of utmost importance. Frequent absences or late arrivals to class will reflect negatively in the grade. Prerequisite: Upper language or literature courses in Spanish     Advanced | Credits: 4

An introduction to Latin American texts from modernismo to the present. Different cultural movements and their sociopolitical contexts are examined through representative works. Class discussions and assigned papers are based on literary analysis and research.     Advanced | Credits: 4

Do you like to write poetry or short fiction in Spanish? Then this workshop is for you. This workshop will offer students an opportunity to write short fiction and poetry, as well as dramatic scripts for the stage. Examining the student's own writing alongside sample published works, the workshop will present instruction in the essential elements of literary forms, while providing each participant a community of readers to respond to his or her work. Each student will develop a project for the final portfolio and for presenting or performing their final piece in a recital. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor     Advanced | Credits: 4

Explores the response of several modern Spanish-American writers to the following questions: What is fiction? What are the roles of the author, the narrator and the reader? Special attention is given to such outstanding novelists of the "boom" as Rulfo, Cortázar, Cabrera Infante and García Márquez, and to the development of their works within the context of the modern novel. Conducted in Spanish. Prerequisite: Advanced courses in Spanish American literature and a semester of survey or Introduction to Latin American Literature I    Advanced | Credits: 4

Ever since feminists called attention to women's lives, the question of what it means to be a woman has been the subject of much academic debate. However, despite improvement in women's lives and shared similarities, the experience of being a woman differs markedly. Issues such as gender, race, ethnicity, class, nationality and sexual orientation seem to account for these differences. We will examine these issues in the work of selected writers, considering the ways in which gender, race and historical and cultural specificity shape and complicate these categories of inquiry. We will also read poetry, short stories and essays by women writers. Prerequisite: Prior survey course and ability to read and write well in Spanish Advanced | Credits: 4

Latin America is a vast region, diverse in geography and culture, tied together by a shared historical experience and a language. The Spanish-speaking countries are as rich and varied in their culture and historical development as they are in their geography and in the mix of peoples that inhabit them. May be repeated for credit if different content. Prerequisite: Courses in Latin American literature or culture Advanced | Credits: 4

After centuries of invisibility and marginalization, Latino culture and literature exploded on the American scene in the '60s. Chicanos, Cubans, Nuyoricans and lately Dominicans and Central Americans have all contributed to create a diversified body of literature characterized by its bilingualism, biculturalism and hybridity. This course will center on how U.S. Latino/a literature bears witness to identity formation, self-representation and celebration of Latino culture and its people. It will explore a series of critical issues that define "latinidad" in the U.S., including language (bilingualism, Spanglish, code-switching and "dialect"), race/ethnicity/color, gender migration, racism and difference. The texts in the course are representative of a great body of oral and written literature that articulates the experience of being Latino/a in the U.S. Although the course is taught in English, familiarity with Spanish is useful. This course requires the careful reading of the assigned materials, therefore, class participation, attendance and preparation is of utmost importance; continued absences and lack of preparation will reflect negatively in the grade. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 4

Sample Tutorial Topics

  • Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
  • Contemporary Issues in Spanish-Language Policy
  • English to Spanish Translation
  • Experiments in Translation to Spanish
  • History of Illegal Immigration
  • Language and Identity in Latino Literature
  • Language and Nationalism in Contemporary Spain
  • Rhetoric of Illegal Immigration

Boukary Sawadogo (French Language & Francophone Culture and Literature)

French is known for being a beautiful and romantic language, and France is the second-largest economy in Europe. French is spoken by more than 220 million people worldwide and is pivotal to the international community life in so many ways: fashion, cuisine, film, literature, philosophy and diplomacy. The study of the French language opens avenues for the understanding of peoples and cultures from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, Canada and the Pacific islands. French also allows access to knowledge in areas such as philosophy, literature and culture, which may not have otherwise been possible through only English. So the study of French is not only an important tool in cross-disciplinary work, but also an opportunity to discover the diversity that is inherent in French-speaking communities around the world.

The French language courses are designed both to develop proficiency and cultural competencies, and to analyze issues pertaining to the Francophone world. Language courses in elementary and intermediate levels are meant to facilitate development of the four communicative skills (speaking, listening reading and writing) in addition to highlighting the diversity of French-speaking communities. A particular emphasis is placed on clear writing in upper level courses to expose students to research and methodological tools that are essential for their intellectual inquiries and critical thinking skills. Analysis of issues that are relevant to Francophone communities is conducted through class discussions or in thematic courses. This is a cross-disciplinary analysis that draws on different perspectives including film, gender, (post)colonialism, culture and politics. Students are strongly encouraged to study abroad in a French-speaking context to enhance their language and cultural competencies while exploring academic and personal interests.

Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:

  • Francophone culture and literature
  • Francophone film and documentary filmmaking
  • Gender and sexuality in Africa
  • Postcolonialism
  • German language and contemporary German culture
  • Representation of marginality
  • Politics and immigration in Francophone comics

Starting Points (Basic and Introductory Courses)

This course is for beginners. It is meant for students to develop the basic skills in French language competency including listening, speaking, reading and writing. The course is designed to facilitate active learning about the francophone world through study of its language and cultures. Emphasis is on vocabulary building, basic grammar structures, cultural and historical knowledge. Introductory | Credits: 4

Pursuing Interests (Intermediate and Thematic Courses)

This intermediate-level course is designed to develop conversation and writing skills. The course will review and expand vocabulary and grammar. Films, literary and cultural readings will provide the basis for speaking and writing activities. Conversation will take the form of whole-class discussion and presentations, and writing assignments will include the three types of rhetorical writing (narrative, expository and persuasive).  Intermediate | Credits: 4

This course is designed to facilitate learning and critical analysis of how gender and sexuality are represented in Francophone communities. This course surveys cultural issues and representations, through the filmic medium, in order to acquaint students with the diversity inherent in the French-speaking world. Emphasis is on gender roles, women's condition [the condition of women], portrayals of homosexuality, and the power struggle that exists between the center and the margins. Selected films from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and Quebec will studied from an aesthetic and cultural perspective.

In addition to in-class film screenings and discussion, students will create and maintain an electronic media project on "Gender and Sexuality" on the Critical Commons platform. Using the media sharing capabilities of Critical Commons, students will gather relevant film clips and post critical commentaries that will constitute an online academic source of reference for research.

Class discussion will be in English. Students can earn an additional credit by completing assignments in French and will be expected to use French key sources. Multi-level | Credits: 4


Marlboro College supports Arabic through its participation in the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program. Every year through this program a fellow from an Arabic-speaking country comes to Marlboro to offer introductory and intermediate courses in Arabic. Advanced work in tutorial can be done; see Amer Latif if you are interested in this. For Greek and Latin, see Classics.

Introduces students to the phonology and script of classical/modern standard Arabic and covers the basic morphology and syntax of the written language. Emphasis on the development of the four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) at the earliest stages. Samples of modern (contemporary) and classical styles of writing introduced, and audio-visual material from the contemporary Arabic media. Prerequisite: NoneIntroductory | Credits: 4

A continuation of elementary Arabic with equal emphasis on aural and oral skills, reading and writing. Selections from contemporary Arabic media are introduced and serve as a basis for reading and conversation. Prerequisite: Beginning Modern Arabic I     Introductory | Credits: 4