Languages at St. John’s
In the language tutorial, students examine
the relation between language and thought—
and the many ways of using language.
To achieve this, they study two foreign
languages: Greek in the first two years and
French in years three and four. In addition
to the rewards intrinsic to learning these
languages, students gain facility in the
precise and effective use of English as the
differences and similarities between the
languages are brought into focus.
The study of ancient Greek in the
first year goes especially well with freshman
seminar readings inHomer and Plato, among
other classical authors, as well as with the
study of earlymathematicians such as Euclid
and Ptolemy. Portions of some seminar works
are read in the original by students, illuminat-
ing subtleties ofmeaning easy to overlook
inEnglish translations. Furthermore, as
students sharpen their attentiveness towords
through the language tutorial, they increase
their competence in the skills of grammar,
rhetoric, and logic that give words power—
which in turn serves to enhance their powers
of argument in seminar.
Intensive study of French likewise
extends student capabilities. In tutorial,
students may spend a half-hour discussing
how to translate a single sentence of French
prose; that half-hour could have far reaching
implications in the way they approach their
own reading and writing.
Will I read anyworks inEnglish in the language tutorial?
At the end of both the second and fourth years of the language tutorial, students take a close look
at some of the most renowned literature in the English language: works by Chaucer, Shakespeare,
Donne, and others in sophomore year and modern British and American authors in senior year.
What is translation?