Modern Languages

Centralia College offers a comprehensive slate of classes in American Sign Language, Chinese, French, and Spanish, and two degree options for students interested in language study.

The Modern Languages program is designed for students intending to transfer to a four-year college. However, the classes are appropriate for anyone who wishes a solid foundation in ASL, Chinese, French, or Spanish.

Why Study Modern Languages?

Adapted from

  • Enhance Your StudiesLanguages are a fantastic complement to all areas of study. The vast majority of language majors are double majors and languages rank as the most popular double major
  • Keep Going - If you’ve studied languages in the past, college is the ideal time to strengthen (or expand upon) those skills—your brain is already programmed to make additional languages easier to pick up. New to languages? It’s definitely not too late to get started now, either!
  • Boost Your Career OptionsLanguage skills offer job candidates a serious competitive edge over their peers and are among the top eight skills required of all occupations.
  • Serve Your CountryThe U.S. Military, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and agencies such as the CIA, FBI, and NSA all have a huge demand for language skills, with many offering scholarships for language students who want to pursue a career in government.
  • Impact the Next GenerationTeaching remains an excellent option for those with an interest in and talent for languages and shaping young lives. With 44 states and the District of Columbia citing language teacher shortages, educators are in urgent demand and many districts are offering impressive hiring incentives.
  • Travel and Study AbroadThe study and intern abroad destinations—and associated scholarships—open to students with language skills vastly outnumber English-only programs. 
  • Stand Out from the CrowdDespite the big (and unmet) demand for language skills, only a small percentage of U.S. students enroll in university language classes. When combined with knowledge and skills in another professional area, proficiency in these languages really does make you stand out.
  • Feed Your BrainResearch shows that bilinguals have better critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as improved memory, concentration, and mental flexibility. 

The benefits of learning sign language at an early age are numerous. American Sign Language (ASL) is one of the most widely used languages in the United States, and the fourth-most studied second language at American universities. At least 35 states have recognized ASL as a modern language for public schools, and hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States are offering ASL classes.

ASL is primarily used by American and Canadians who are either deaf or hard of hearing. There are approximately 250,000 – 500,000 ASL users in the United States and Canada, most of whom use ASL as their primary language. In addition, ASL is used by:

  • hearing children of deaf parents,

  • hearing siblings and relatives of the deaf,

  • hearing adults who are becoming deaf and are learning ASL from other deaf individuals, and

  • a growing population of hearing, second-language students learning ASL in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary classrooms.

Being proficient in ASL allows you to communicate with a wide range of hearing, hard of hearing, and deaf individuals—including students in mainstream and deaf school or university programs and deaf or hard of hearing residents and business people in your community. In addition, ASL improves the quality of family communication for hearing people with deaf or hard of hearing family members.


ASL is deeply rooted in the Deaf Community and Culture. Studying ASL promotes better awareness of and sensitivity to the deaf and hard of hearing community. As someone proficient in ASL, you will develop a strong appreciation for deaf culture, and you can promote understanding and acceptance of the language among others.

Adapted from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Sign Language Teachers Association (NC ASLTA) and the North Carolina Association of the Deaf (NCAD) Ad Hoc Committee at


The sheer size of China commands attention. It is the world’s third-largest country and is home to 1.3 billion people, or one-fifth of the globe’s population. It is the world’s second-biggest economy after the United States and a major geopolitical player on the world stage.


Mandarin is currently spoken by nearly one-fifth of the world’s population. Mandarin speakers can be found in Mainland China, Taiwan, and diasporic Chinese communities throughout Southeast Asia, North and South America, and Europe. Because China is of one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Chinese is also an official UN language (along with Arabic, English, French, Russian, and Spanish).

Cultural Knowledge

Learning Chinese opens up a unique window into one of the world’s richest and most ancient civilizations. As soon as you begin studying the Chinese language, you begin learning about Chinese history, cultural values, philosophical and religious beliefs, and aesthetic traditions. And the more proficient you become, the more you will be able to appreciate and understand China’s past and present.

A Unique Skill

Chinese, for all its growing importance, still remains a rare language skill among Americans. In 2013, just over 60,000 American college students enrolled in a Chinese language program. In committing to study Chinese, you can look forward to being equipped with a still uncommon and highly valued second language skill.

Adapted from John Carroll University, Chinese Studies Program at 

Spanish Is Now Part of Our Tapestry

In the United States, Spanish is rising ahead of any other non-English language at a rapid pace, with a steady flow of new immigrants from Latin America and growth in the already large Hispanic population. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center report, an estimated 38 million people in the United States speak Spanish as their first language, and analysts predict the Latino population will reach approximately 130 million in 2060—likely making it the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Proportionally, Hispanics are expected to rise from around 16 percent of the U.S. population in 2010 to 30 percent by 2050.

Spanish Is Everywhere

It’s not only in the United States where Spanish is popular. There are some 400 million Spanish speakers worldwide, placing it second only to Chinese for total number of native speakers and the fourth-most commonly spoken language in the world. In Europe, Spanish is the second most popular second language, after English. Only Mandarin, English, and Hindi have more speakers. It is the third most commonly used language on the Internet, following English and Chinese. The sheer number of Spanish speakers and their rate of growth makes learning Spanish a smart choice.

(Update: Note that a new 2018 report, in Spanish, by the the Instituto Cervantes confirms that there are currently more than 480 million native Spanish speakers and a total of 577 million Spanish speakers in the world, including native and limited-competency speakers, as well as second-language learners.)

Learning Spanish Will Help Your Career

With such a large Latino population in the United States and booming Latin economies around the world, employers are desperate for people who speak Spanish. There is a huge demand in the United States Spanish-speakers in nursing, construction management, and media, among many other sectors.

Between 2010 and 2015, the share of jobs seeking Spanish speakers increased by 13 percent. Big corporations are realizing the importance of reaching a market that represents approximately 1.5 trillion annually. Meanwhile, Latin America saw a record $179 billion of foreign direct investment in 2015 and companies everywhere are expanding.

It Will Unlock a World of Travel Destinations

There are approximately 329 million native Spanish speakers in the world, and they populate some of the coolest global destinations. You can leave behind the touristy resorts in Cancun and explore thousands of miles of more affordable and beautiful Latin American cities, beaches, and trails. Even if you do go to popular destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, speaking the local language will help you get off the beaten path and have a more authentic experience. And then, of course, you can book a trip to Spain and see the wonders of Barcelona, Madrid, Andalucía, and other cities!

You Can Enjoy Amazing Books and Movies

Around 100 successful authors from 54 countries voted El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha by novelist Miguel de Cervantes as the best book of all time, and while the 17th-century book is widely available in other languages, like any book, it is best in its original language. Other Spanish-language authors you’ll want to read include Chilean poet Pablo Neruda—many of whose works have not been translated—Gabriel García Márquez, Roberto Bolaño, and Mario Vargas Llosa, just to name a few.

And then there are the movies: star directors Pedro Almodóvar, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guillermo Del Toro—who all have movies in their native language—should be enough to convince you of the richness of Spanish-language cinema.

Spanish Is Relatively Easy to Learn

Written Spanish is almost completely phonetic: by looking at a Spanish word, you can usually tell how it is pronounced. While mastering the grammar of Spanish can be a challenge, basic grammar is straightforward enough, and many vocabulary words are similar to English. Because the number of Spanish speakers in the United States continues to rise, chances are it will become even easier to learn and practice this language.

Spanish Language Instruction Is Widespread and Accessible in Today’s Schools and Universities

70 percent of high-school students and 52 percent of post-secondary students in language programs choose Spanish.

Adapted from Amanda Macias and Gus Lubin for Business Insider at

One especially exciting career path open to bilingual hearing professionals is interpretation. There is a great need for qualified interpreters in medical/healthcare, courts and law enforcement, and educational settings. 

Students with Chinese- and Spanish-speaking skills are well-positioned for jobs in business, diplomacy, engineering, science, law, philosophy, political science, technology, finance, tourism, translation, teaching, and much more.

Modern Languages Education Plan

Degree: Associate in Arts or Associate in Liberal Arts
American Sign Language, Chinese, French, Spanish

First Year  
Fall Quarter
  • ASL, CHIN&, FRCH&, or SPAN& 121 - 5 credits
  • ENGL& 101 Engllish Composition I - 5 credits
  • Quantitive Skills Distribution - 5 credits
Winter Quarter
  • ASL, CHIN&, FRCH&, or SPAN& 122 - 5 credits
  • ENGL& 102 English Composition II - 5 credits
  • ANTH& 106 Cultural Anthropology - 5 credits
Spring Quarter
  • ASL, CHIN&, FRCH&, or SPAN& 123 - 5 credits
  • CMST 250 Intercultural Communications - 5 credits
  • Natural Science Distribution - 5 credits


Second Year  
Fall Quarter
  • CHIN&, or SPAN& 221 or Elective (for French majors) - 5 credits
  • Humanities Distribution - 5 credits
  • Social Science Distribution - 5 credits
  • Health and Fitness Distribution - 1 credit
Winter Quarter
  • CHIN& or SPAN& 222 or Elective (for French majors) - 5 credits
  • Natural Science Distribution - 5 credits
  • Social Science Distribution - 5 credits
  • Health and Fitness Distribution - 1 credit
Spring Quarter
  • CHIN& or SPAN& 223 or Elective (for French majors) - 5 credits
  • Elective - 5 credits
  • Natural Science Distribution - 5 credits


Coming Soon!


Mark Gorecki (he/him/his)
Professor  – Modern Languages
Office: WSC 216-I
Email Mark Gorecki