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 will be offered starting in 2011-2012 for ungraded academic credit through a Fulbright Arabic teaching program (and will 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, Russell Johnson ([email protected]), 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. In order to begin learning a language on your own, you must ascertain whether Colby‘s Language Resource Center (Lovejoy 404) already has the program you need or whether it needs to be ordered. Please note that the license of Rosetta Stone programs is such that the discs will only work on an LRC computer pre-programmed for the language you are learning. The LRC has Level 1 Rosetta Stone programs for some languages (including Hindi, Portuguese, and Swahili). Physically check the LRC Rosetta Stone shelf to see if others are available.
  2. If the program for the language you wish to learn (and at the level you need) is not available, fill out a “Rosetta Stone Program Order (Download PDF Form from Here)” and submit it to the Director of the LRC (Lovejoy 420). It normally takes ten days to two weeks between an order and delivery. The Director will contact you when the Program arrives and is installed, or you may check back with the Director after two weeks
  3. Each Rosetta Language program will work on only one computer in the LRC. Each computer should be clearly labeled for each language. Rosetta Stone users are priority users on the computer where their program has been installed and can ask other students using the computer to move to another computer.


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 LRC student monitor—or the LRC director, if need be—should be able to help you with any questions regarding the technical set-up for the Rosetta Stone programs such as accessing the program after the computer has been used for other things, microphone set-up, earphones and so forth.
  2. LRC monitors will have some acquaintance with how a generic Rosetta Stone program works and can be used as a resource for basic questions. Monitors will have no training or knowledge base in any specific language.
  3. The Rosetta Stone website may have internet resources to help a student navigate the program.