College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures

Departmental Honors can be earned for the Modern Languages Department at Butler University

Departmental Honors in Languages

Students need not complete Butler's university-wide Honors Program in order to receive Departmental Honors in Modern Languages

Separate from Butler's university-wide Honors Program (which, to clarify, is the only route through which students can earn University/Latin Honors), Departmental Honors can be obtained by students for their primary and/or secondary majors -- in this case the Modern Languages department.

Breakdown of Honors Levels Obtainable

Note:  Students receiving Cum Laude/University Honors cannot also receive base-level Departmental Honors.

Departmental Honors

(Base level)

A 3.6 or above GPA in the academic major.

Departmental High Honors

A 3.7 or above GPA in the academic major AND successful completion of a portfolio project (guidelines below) in Modern Languages ... OR of a thesis approved by the Modern Languages department AND the university-wide Honors Program.


Also available ...

Highest Honors

(Requires participation in University-wide Honors Program)

A 3.800 GPA academic major and successful completion of a portfolio project (guidelines below) in Modern Languages ... AND of a thesis approved by the Modern Languages department AND the university-wide Honors Program.



Portfolio Criteria for High Departmental and Highest Honors

For High Departmental and Highest Honors, students must successfully complete a Modern Languages department portfolio project and/or write a thesis. Below are the expectations for the portfolio project which evaluates skills in speaking, reading, writing, listening and culture developed over the undergraduate academic career.

Expected Length and Content:

Student honors portfolio projects are expected to be a collection of material and experiential written narrative descriptions of important moments and stages in development throughout the years of language study at Butler University. These "artifacts" and syntheses (in the target language) will serve to demonstrate a clear line of growth and improvement in key components of language study as well as a careful reflection on the student's own educational development in general. Length of the project is flexible but the content should guarantee a comprehensive overview of the student's undergraduate experience. In addition to this written portfolio narrative collection, students will be expected to present their project to the department in a twenty minute oral forum during the spring semester of the student's senior year.

The portfolio will contain five sections of written narratives and "artifact" collections based upon the following criteria and examples:

I. Speaking:

Students should, through their presentation and examples provided, offer evidence of the ability to conduct a sophisticated oral argument on abstract and concrete topics in the target language.

  • How have you improved your skills in this area over time?
  • Mention specific situational examples (presentations, trips, meetings with native speakers) which demonstrate this improvement.
  • Is there an oral presentation of recent date of which you are particularly proud?
  • How did in-class and study abroad experiences help in this area?


  • Narrative examples of positive growth or improvement: "After first - year French I could not order wine in a restaurant, after 300-level I was joking with the waiter about different kinds of caviar"; or "After 300-level I had this amazing discussion about communism in Paris with some guy named Jacques."
  • (Speaking Examples cont.)
  • Audio-Video tape of presentation in a 300 or 400-level class.
  • Note cards or visuals, summaries of discussion from presentations.
  • Accounts of participation / discussions / contributions in upper-level seminar classes.

II. Reading

Students should show evidence of ability to read extensive and authentic texts with a high degree of understanding.

  • What have you read? Which texts have had deeper meaning for you?
  • How has your progression in ability been reflected in the types of texts you read in the 200-level to present level?
  • How did in-class and study abroad experiences help in this area?


  • Offer texts you have read, novels, poetry, newspaper clippings, advertisements, letters, etc.
  • Offer summaries of texts you have dealt with and how they have influenced you. For example, after reading Goethe's Werther, what was your reaction? Emotional? Rational? Intellectual?
  • Comment especially on the intellectual influence these texts have had on you.

III. Writing:

Students should be able to structure coherent and sophisticated arguments in the target language. Writing should display sound acquisition of grammatical structures and vocabulary with competent linguistic accuracy.

  • How have you improved your skills in this area over time?
  • What examples of papers, compositions, essays, and homework assignments could you provide?
  • What authentic writing experiences have you been able to accumulate (pen pal, applications, email, web-chat)?


  • Compare a composition from SP 204 and a film review of the latest Almodovar film for your 400-level Spanish Films class. How has your writing changed? Show evidence of improvement and expansion.
  • Synthesize your writing experience in a brief narrative. Are you satisfied today with the level attained? How might you continue to improve?

IV. Listening:

Students should demonstrate ability to comprehend spoken utterances of native speakers with little difficulty.

  • What contact have you had with real native speakers? Describe the experiences and how your comfort level has changed over time.
  • Can you now watch a French movie without subtitles? Do you find yourself irritated by those subtitles or hate the dubbed voices of American productions?
  • Describe your comprehension level of sophisticated auditory samples: i.e.: news, DJ talk, songs, university lectures, etc.


  • A narrative of your comprehension of Spanish news reports about recent elections in Mexico.
  • Evaluate your development in understanding from beginning Spanish courses to later upper-division work. ("In Spanish 102 I could fill in the missing verb, today I can complete ideas for my teachers before they finish the sentences")

V. Culture:

Student should demonstrate knowledge of formal and informal aspects of international cultures as well as the ability to think effectively about social, political, ethical, and moral issues.


  • What impressions do you have of cultural differences and similarities?
  • What particular literary, artistic, historic, cinematic movement/genre have you investigated in greater depth over the course of your career?
  • What political, social, economic, religious issues have you encountered, studied, dealt with, discussed at parties or been moved to argue over at any length?


  • Give a concrete description of a moment in which you felt culturally sophisticated in your field, or in which you felt truly "at home" in you language.
  • What did you not know as a freshman which is in your back pocket today?
  • Bring in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and compare it to your understanding of your own identity or idea of citizenship.
  • Tell which German stereotypes are, after your closer inspection, completely untrue or unjustified.

VI. Summary and Synthesis, Intellectual Growth

Students are asked here to synthesize their experiences and comment on their own intellectual growth during their studies. Here are some sample questions to which you may choose to respond.

How has your study of language, literature, and culture enhanced your life and your global appreciation?

In the film Dances with Wolves, the Kevin Costner figure experiences a gradual transformation from understanding virtually nothing of the language and the culture of the Indians, to slowly understanding some things, and finally becoming culturally and linguistically fluent. Would you describe your experience with your language of study in these terms, or would you propose a different analogy which better fits your "transformation"?

Have you had experiences throughout this language learning process which you would describe as emblematic (symbolic? metaphoric?) for your development? Why?

What were some of your motivations in learning this foreign language? Did these change over time? Which things helped you most along the way, which impeded your progress? Were there things you would have done differently, if you were to go through the program again? Why?


This portfolio project requires active organization and collection of materials throughout your academic studies at Butler University. Keep this project in mind as you complete courses and move on to others.

Do Not Throw Everything Away!!!

Meet with your advisor in your foreign language during the first semester of your senior year to begin coordinating completion schedules and due dates for the project.