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Learn a Language On Your Own
(with tutorial support when available)

Ten languages are offered in Colby's curriculum for full academic credit: Chinese, French, Italian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish. Those seeking to fulfill the three-semester language requirement must study one of these languages. In addition, Arabic has been offered since 2011-2012 for ungraded academic credit through a Fulbright Arabic teaching program (and does not count for the three-semester language requirement).

If a student has fulfilled (or is fulfilling) the College's language requirement and wishes to study a language not taught at Colby, this may be done at the individual student's initiative. Colby is committed to procuring the well-regarded Rosetta Stone language programs for students serious about learning a language on their own. Keep in mind that no academic credit will be awarded for learning a language on your own.

Here are some sample profiles of students for whom this option is intended:

  • A student plans to study in Tanzania and wishes to learn rudimentary Swahili before departure.
  • A student returns from a semester abroad in Brazil and wants to continue the study of Portuguese begun there.
  • An Art major identifies a graduate program for which some knowledge of Hindi will be an asset.
  • A student knows that an acquaintance with Farsi will help with a search for State Department jobs.
  • A student has lined up a summer internship in Thailand.
  • A student grew up speaking Polish and wants to learn how to read and write.

The College also encourages students with a love of language learning to explore new languages through Rosetta Stone.

It takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline to make any progress in a new language. Please do not request that a Rosetta Stone language program be ordered unless you clearly see how you will manage to spend at least 3-5 hours a week studying the language throughout a semester. It is best to make your language study a part of your weekly academic schedule.


Before beginning this language study, you must submit a brief statement to the Associate Provost, Margaret McFadden (mtmcfadd@colby.edu), which includes 1) your reason for pursuing this language study, 2) an outline of how your language study will fit into your academic and extracurricular schedule, and 3) how you have fulfilled, or plan to fulfill, your Colby language requirement. Finally, your academic advisor must send an email to the Associate Provost stating that s/he has discussed this language study with you and supports your decision to pursue it.


1) Once you are approved for the Rosetta Stone Program at Colby, Colby must purchase an online license for your individual use. Once the Associate Provost approves your request, ITS will then purchase your online license for your use during the semester. Once the details are worked out, someone in ITS will email you with the details.

2) All Rosetta Stone users are expected to comply with all licensing requirements.


Tutorial support (up to three hours per week) will be available to you through the Dean of Students office if there is a native-speaking student on campus for the language you wish to learn who is willing to be hired for this purpose.

1) If you wish to work with a tutor in the language, you must attempt to locate a tutor on your own. Put out a "Colby General Announcement" stating that you wish to learn, for example, Danish and ask if there is a student fluent in Danish on campus. You might also contact the Associate Dean of Students of International Affairs and see if there are any students enrolled who are fluent in Danish. If you cannot find a tutor, you may need to study without one. The College does not guarantee tutorial support for languages not taught at Colby.

2) If you find a tutor, meet with Associate Dean of Students Barbara Moore to register the tutor as a student worker, so they can be paid.

3) Tutors should familiarize themselves with the Rosetta Stone program initially by sitting with the learner and assisting for several hours. Subsequently, the learner should work independently and meet with the tutor to go over questions about specific material with which the learner needs help.


1) The Rosetta Stone website may have internet resources to help a student navigate the program.

2) ITS will provide support for licensing problems with the software.