Languages, Literature and Composition at USC Upstate

Languages, Literature and Composition

Programs and services

The Division of Languages, Literature and Composition offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Spanish, as well as minors in EnglishFrenchSpanishGerman studies, American Sign Language Interpreting, African American studiesFilm studiesCreative WritingGlobal studies, and Spanish Translation/ interpreting. We also offer a new Global Competence Certificate for students interested in cross-cultural communication and global studies who will not complete a study abroad experience during their undergraduate degree.

All degree programs are designed with small classes and one-on-one guidance from instructors and advisors to help students develop the skills in critical thinking, oral and written communication, research, and analysis that are essential to 21st-Century careers. Find examples of excellent student projects and publications in the English Literary File and in the Upstate Research Journal. Our award-winning faculty members are published authors, leaders of national and regional organizations, working translators and interpreters, and global travelers committed to opening up a world of opportunity for our students. For more about our faculty, go to the Meet Our Faculty Web page.

On this page, find tips for success in the classroom, in the job search, and throughout a lifetime of learning and professional leadership. See our Advising Help page for detailed course descriptions, suggested course sequences, and other advising tips. 

Follow us on Twitter @LLC_Upstate or stop by our office in the Humanities and Performing Arts Center Room 222 to find out more. Call us at 864.503.5688.

English and Writing Programs

"Being a true English major is knowing a little bit about everything, always wanting to learn more and being able to use the knowledge that you have to analyze, interpret, draw conclusions and make verifiable arguments in a way that no one else has before." --Madelaine Hoptry '12;

Why study English?

Students in the English major and minor develop strong skills in critical thinking, analysis, written communication, research and reading--skills that are essential in a range of careers. USC Upstate alumni are working as lawyers, journalists, sports writers, business owners, professors, teachers, military officers, film-makers, bloggers, bankers, novelists, poets, public relations writers, fashion merchandisers, coaches, Peace Corps volunteers, librarians and much, much more. For more career information for students in English and writing, go to

See this Chronicle of Higher Education article about "How Liberal Arts Majors Fare" in the workplace. What do employers want?  Good Writers!

Tips for Success

In the classroom
English courses share common guidelines for conducting research, interpreting literature and writing about literature. The USC Upstate English faculty prepared several Guides for Literary Study to explain common skills and approaches to English study. These reflect the shared rules and values of the discipline or field of English Studies. In Introduction to the Study of Literature (ENGL U300) and English Senior Seminar (ENGL U490), students learn about these guidelines in depth.

Outside the classroom
  • Apply for the Nancy P. Moore English Scholarship for English majors who demonstrate a commitment to community service through volunteer work and the Warren J. Carson Scholarship for Academic Excellence for students studying English or African American Studies. Apply using the Foundation Scholarship form which is available from Nov. 1-Feb. 1 (due Feb. 1)
  • Submit your poetry to Writers, Inc.for the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award
  • Join  Writer's Inc. Literary Arts Magazine or the USC Upstate Literary Club
  • Join the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society's Alpha Lambda Lambda chapter at USC Upstate. Membership in Sigma Tau Delta is an outward recognition of personal accomplishment. It provides opportunities for scholarships, internships, creative and critical publications, and participation and presentation at national conferences. 
  • Ask your advisor about setting up an internship to get hands-on experience in fields related to English studies

English Studies and Your Future

    • Timeline for Preparing for Graduate School
    • Writing the Statement of Purpose in Graduate School Applications
    • Preparing for Graduate Study in English Literature
    • Preparing for Graduate Study in Cultural Studies/Film Studies
    • Preparing for Graduate Study in Creative Writing
    • Preparing for Graduate Study in Rhetoric and Composition
    • Preparing for Graduate Study in Library and Information Studies
    • Preparing for Law School

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my education at USC Upstate. I have been offered so many opportunities that I feel I would have never received in a larger university. Many of the things that have been most influential in my thinking have been garnered from individual conversations with professors. I cannot overstate the influence that my English professors have had on my education. Their consistent attention and encouragement have given me the confidence to pursue a postgraduate degree and a career in higher education." --Beth TeVault '12

Film & Cultural Studies Programs

Cultural Studies has two meanings in the fields of Languages, Literature, and Composition: 1. studies of different cultures and 2. studies of popular culture--like television, film, video games, and other mass media content. Our minors in African American StudiesFilm Studies, and Global Studies prepare students for success in cultural studies of all kinds.

Ask employers about the most important skills they need in the 21st century, and cultural competence always makes the top five. Future leaders and professionals need the ability to work with diverse groups, understand different perspectives, and either travel or communicate with people from throughout the nation and the world. Minors in African American Studies and Global Studies develop skills in intercultural competence and global competence.

Minors in Film Studies enjoy course in both film production and film analysis. They learn to be part of the visual world of popular culture from YouTube and Netflix to HBO, Hollywood, and the indy film industry.

World Language and Culture Programs

In an increasingly global world, the ability to communicate in multiple languages is more important than ever. Our world language programs help students learn to speak and read in SpanishFrenchGerman, Chinese, and American Sign Language. The programs also help to gain familiarity with the countries and cultures in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific Rim, as well as North and South America where these languages are spoken. Through our study abroad programs, Latin Fest, New Global South Summit, international film series and various international festivals, we also introduce students to a range of cultures throughout the world.

Applying knowledge of language and culture is an important goal of our programs. Our faculty are specially trained in active learning and teaching with technology to create classroom environments where students can feel engaged. In addition, many of our courses use service learning strategies to bring the course content to life with speakers of other languages in the Spartanburg community. Students in the Spanish Translation and Interpreting minor, for instance, regularly work with non-profit organizations to prepare materials and provide interpreting services that meet real-world needs. Various courses throughout our many language programs offer service learning and internship opportunities to give students resume-building experience and hands-on work that is personally fulfilling. 

Whether you major or minor in a world language or just complete the general education requirements, world language experience can open up a world of opportunities for you. Students who earn an A in two semesters of any world language may apply for the Alpha Mu Gamma Honor Society, becoming eligible for study abroad and other scholarships and grants. Students who study or have native speaker proficiency in languages that are less common in the US, such as Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Arabic, Swahili, Punjabi, and Urdu, may qualify for the Critical Language Scholarship Program or a Fulbright U.S. Student Program and Critical Language Enhancement Award. Students who complete four semesters of Chinese are eligible for the Critical Language Scholarship program and for programs through the Confucius Institute. 

¿Hablas español en casa? ¿Te gustaría aprender más sobre tu cultura y el mundo hispánico? ¿Buscas perfeccionar tu español oral o escrito? ¿Quieres estudiar en el extranjero? ¿O tal vez te interesa aprender sobre la traducción y la interpretación para carreras médicas o legales? ¿Te gustaría participar en actividades sin fin de lucro con líderes comunitarios? Aprovecha de muchas oportunidades para desarrollar liderazgo.

  • Knowledge of world cultures and world languages is an important global competency in our 21st century global economy, and most employers list "global competence" among the top ten skills they seek in their new hires. As USC Upstate students, you are part of one of the most international economic regions in the US--home to German, Swiss, Chinese, French, Spanish, Irish, and myriad other businesses throughout Upstate, South Carolina. Our Upstate region demands a bilingual and multilingual workforce. 

    Learning world languages is an important part of your general education and your career readiness.  

    ¿Hablas español en casa? ¿Te gustaría aprender más sobre tu cultura y el mundo hispánico? ¿Buscas perfeccionar tu español oral o escrito? ¿Quieres estudiar en el extranjero? ¿O tal vez te interesa aprender sobre la traducción y la interpretación para carreras médicas o legales? ¿Te gustaría participar en actividades sin fin de lucro con líderes comunitarios? Aprovecha de muchas oportunidades para desarrollar liderazgo. 

    Students who are already bilingual in Spanish or any other language should contact the Division of Languages, Literature, and Composition to see how you can gain credit for your language and cultural competencies.

    Which Course Should You Take?
    • All entering USC Upstate students should take the world language placement test during orientation to determine the appropriate course level. According to the Academic Catalog, "The minimum acceptable level of competency is completion of the 101 level of a language. Students who place into the 102 or higher level of a language satisfy the language requirement but will have additional hours in general education electives, if hours are required by their degree program." Students who successfully complete more advanced levels of world languages demonstrate competency above this minimum level and should not be required to complete the lower-level world language courses. 
    • Students who complete world language U101 should build basic communication survival skills in the language. Students who complete world language U102 should achieve be able to start to use the language to share basic ideas and communicate with others
    • Current or prospective USC Upstate students may take the Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Spanish placement tests in the Testing Center in Media 218The test takes about 30 minutes. Walk-ins are accepted if space permits. Scores are posted on screen automatically at the end of the test.
    • Native speakers, legacy speakers or students with advanced language skills in Chinese, French, German or Spanish may place out of the introductory language requirement by completing the placement test in the Testing Center. Eligible students may earn credit for more advanced courses via exam by contacting the Division of Languages, Literature and Composition at 864-503-5688. 
    • Multilingual students who are fluent in languages we do not teach at USC Upstate may be eligible for an exemption to the world language requirement. Contact the Division of Languages, Literature and Composition at 864-503-5688 for details. 
    What Do Your World Language Placement Exam Scores Mean? 
    • Spanish: 0-240 places into SPAN U101; 240-315 places into SPAN U102; 316-397 places into SPAN U201; 398 and above places into SPAN U202 or higher. 500 and above places into SPAN U309, SPAN U301, SPAN U304, or SPAN U315 and may be able to complete SPAN U310 by exam. 750 and above may be able to complete SPAN U310 by exam and would be great candidates for SPAN U311, U312, U301, U320, and U321. See detailed course descriptions for more information about upper-level Spanish courses.
           Students with scores over 500 should talk to Dr. Araceli Hernandez-Laroche to determine appropriate placement in upper-level Spanish courses in order to pursue a major or minor in Spanish, or a minor in Spanish translation and interpretation, or a minor in Global Studies.
    • French: 0-240 places into FREN 101; 240-316 places into FREN 102; 317-382 places into FREN 201; 382 and above places into FREN 202 or higher. Students with scores over 500 should talk to Dr. Araceli Hernandez-Laroche to determine appropriate placement in upper-level French courses in order to pursue a minor in French or Global Studies. 
    • German: 0-230 places into GERM 101; 230-306 places into GERM 102; 307-372 places into GERM 201; 372 or above places into GERM 202 or higher. Students with scores over 480 should talk to Dr. Alex Lorenz to determine appropriate placement in upper-level German courses in order to pursue a minor in German studies or Global Studies. 
  • Know Your Target Goals

    Students studying the U101 and U102 courses in world languages should develop survival skills at the novice level that allow you to begin to communicate across languages. Check out our guides to Skills for Beginning to Communicate (Novice Mid) in World Languages U101 and Skills for Beginning to Communicate (Novice High) in World Languages U102

    Get the Book Right Away and Do the Online Language Lab Every Day

    Communicating in world languages is a skill, not a set of content that you can learn by cramming for a test. Babies learn languages by hearing languages in the world around them. Your brain is wired to learn language through practice, so use the resources provided in your class to make learning easy. Check out this easy guide to getting started  using the online Portales or Sag Mal Supersites. 

    Study Every Day! 

    Think of learning a language like developing muscle memory for fitness. The more you study, the more you learn. The more often you study, the easier it is to learn. 

    Space Your Study Time

    Study in 15-30 minute blocks throughout the day and break up the minutes with the difference sections: 10 minutes for grammar, 10 for new vocabulary, and so on. Make sure you add in practice time, too! Online lab components of your course text books can make practice fun, and free programs and apps like Duolingo  can remind you to practice in 10 minute-blocks. 

    Class Time Matters

    Your class time helps you practice what you study with live feedback from expert professors. World language professors are trained to know what it is like to learn a new language, including mispronouncing or mixing up vocabulary. They are excited to see you try--even if you aren't perfect the first time around. Show up, pay attention, and participate!


    Classmates are your study buddies. Get to know them and the professor so that you will become more comfortable practicing and testing out your growing language skills.

    Grammar Is Important, No Matter the Language

    Go over your English grammar through sites like Grammarly and Purdue University's Online Writing Lab and your world language grammar will be easier to understand. Compare what you do with nouns, verbs, pronouns, direct objects, adjectives, and adverbs across the languages you know. 

    Practice, Practice, Practice, for Those Tests

    Practice makes perfect so practice what you need, especially for tests! Learn what will be on your test, like writing, speaking, vocabularly, or particular sentence structures. Then try different ways to study, like making up your own test questions or using flash cards (many online textbook applications have built-in flash cards for vocabulary). 

    Attitude Counts

    Think of all the good reasons to learn a language and to find out more about the cultures that are part of our Upstate community, our international business climate, and our world. Set positive goals for yourself: Do you want to work in one of the 600 international businesses in our area? Do you want to be better at reaching future clients, students, patients who come from other cultures and speak other languages? Or do you just want to know all the words to your favorite Luis Fonsi song? Every lesson is one step closer to reaching those goals.

    Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

    Whether it's with your professor, a study partner or group, or a language tutor, be ready to ask for help if you don't understand. Have you ever googled a text abbreviation in the urban dictionary or asked a friend what an obscure sports term means? That's how we build our language skills in life. The same is true with a second language. 

    Remember to Play, Laugh, and Explore the Joy of Words

    Watch a younger sibling or a child make up funny rhymes or sign silly songs with words, and you can see how fun language can be. Take a break from vocabulary lists by looking up songs, tongue twisters, or jokes in the language you are learning, and you'll find those songs and rhymes help you remember details at test time. 

    Are You Using Portales?

    Remember that your Portales Supersite has great built-in help and support until midnight most days of the week. Be sure to check out the technology requirements for using Portales, and remember that the USC Upstate library has a 24-hour computer lab with updated computers available for students all semester long.  The VHL Supersite offers a quick list of how-to videos for students including screen shots that show how to submit a range of assignments. And don't forget, you can always ask your professors for help as well.

  • The Division of Languages, Literature, and Composition offers support for students working on writing projects and assignments in any course at USC Upstate. Students work with peer tutors through the Writing Center to improve their writing. 

    Free Individual Tutoring is offered by the Center for Student Success to all USC Upstate students. Academic Support Services hires tutors to cover many of the 100 and 200 level courses (including world language courses). Students can have two (2) one-hour appointments per week in each of their subject areas. Appointments must be made 24 hours in advance. Academic Support cannot accommodate last-minute requests.

    Sign up for tutoring for the first time in Library 210. Business students and Greenville students should contact Academic Support at 864-503-5070 for instructions on signing up online. Most tutoring appointments happen on the second floor of the Library in specially assigned tutoring rooms, but tutoring can take place anywhere on campus, including at the George.

    If a tutor is not readily available for your course, you may submit a request to Academic Support in Library 210. We make every effort to find an available tutor for 100, 200 and some 300 level courses. Tutors are not available for 400 level courses.