About the SLS Major

What is Second Language Studies (SLS)?

SLS is an exciting interdisciplinary field where you can engage with a wide range of theoretical and practical issues related to learning, using, and teaching second and foreign languages. Some of the questions we address include:

  • Why do some people learn languages more easily than others?
  • How are first and second language learning similar or different?
  • How can we become more effective language learners and teachers?
  • How can we use technology to enhance language learning and teaching?
  • What is the role of multilingualism in promoting diversity, intercultural communication and understanding, and educational and social equality?
  • Why does language advocacy and policy matter in our local and global communities?
  • How does learning and using a second language (or being multilingual) influence identity and social relationships?

As a student in our BA program, you will be able to focus on areas of SLS that relate to your needs and goals.  With coursework that combines theory, research, and pedagogy, and other opportunities for academic and personal development, the SLS degree prepares you with the solid foundation and specialized skills you need to be a successful language learner, educator, and professional.

Student Learning Outcomes
Declaring your major in SLS

Questions about the SLS Major

What are the requirements for getting a major in Second Language Studies?

In addition to UH General Education Core and Graduation requirements and Arts & Sciences requirements, you need to earn 33 credits to graduate with a major in SLS. Required SLS courses make up 24 credits of the major, and the remaining 9 credits come from elective courses. For more information read about planning your degree.

Is this major only for people interested in English as a Second/Foreign Language?

Definitely not. As the name “second language studies” implies, our department is involved in second languages — which can be any second languages. While many of our majors are interested in English as a second, foreign, or international language,  there are many others whose focus is on a language other than English.  A major in SLS helps you to develop the skills and tools for careers related to second languages in general, as well as preparation for graduate study in SLS or related fields.

What kinds of jobs can I get with a degree in Second Language Studies?

The most popular choice of SLS majors is to teach a second language, either in the U.S. or abroad.  But a degree in SLS does not limit graduates to only teaching jobs. Common careers related to SLS include: program administrators, curriculum and materials developers, language-learning software developers, testing and assessment specialists, translators and interpreters, international exchange coordinators, and more!

History of the SLS Department

The graduate program in SLS dates back to 1961, and is frequently referred to as the best such program in the world. It includes a wide range of general and specialized courses. It also has the largest faculty with specialization in second-language studies of any institution in the world. Our faculty members are recognized internationally through their involvement in scholarly research and publishing projects, including editorship of books, editorial advisory status on major journals, and extensive authorship of both journal articles and books. The department enjoys advanced technical support facilities and excellent library resources. It attracts top-quality students and maintains a variety of services and activities that stimulate a high level of student satisfaction and collaboration, including post-graduation employment advice and assistance.

For nearly forty years, students earned BA degrees in SLS (or closely related degrees that involved SLS courses) via the Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) program. Over time, SLS became one of the most popular IS majors. In Spring 2010, our department began the process to propose SLS as its own major, and in Fall 2011 the BA program in SLS officially began.