Frequently Asked Questions

For Prospective SLS BA Majors

For Current SLS BA Majors

Prospective Students

What is Second Language Studies?

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. For more information, read about the SLS major.

Is this major only for people who want to teach English?

Absolutely not. While English is used as a common example in the classroom, many students do presentations, lesson plans, and other projects with a focus on other languages of interest to them.  The knowledge gained during the course of your degree will be applicable to second languages in general. Many students in the Department of SLS go on to teach and work with a variety of second and foreign languages both within the U.S. and abroad.

How is SLS different from a degree in TESOL (Teaching English to speakers of other languages)?

Unlike a degree in TESOL, SLS is not limited only to English, nor is it limited to teaching. Throughout the course of obtaining a degree in SLS, students engage in a broader understanding of second languages, including how people acquire languages, the role of multiculturalism, intercultural communication, how technology and language interact, identity and second languages, and more. Of course, majors in SLS also have plenty of opportunities to learn how to be effective language teachers and learners.

What kinds of jobs can I get after receiving a degree in SLS?

Graduates in the field of SLS have gone on to find careers in teaching English or other languages, curriculum and materials development, language-learning software development, translation or interpretation, immigrant services, international exchange and more.

Will I be certified to teach in public schools with a degree in SLS?

A degree in SLS does not count towards certification for teaching in the public schools here in Hawai`i.  This can be done through the College of Education as either a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education or a Post-Baccalaureate in Secondary Education (PBCSE).  SLS majors who are interested in teaching in primary school may want to consider a double major in SLS and Elementary Education. For those interested in teaching in public middle or high schools, the recommended course would be to first obtain a BA in SLS, followed by a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Secondary Education (some students elect to go on to graduate study, concurrently earning an MA in SLS and the PBCSE).

Do I have to choose a specific language to focus on?

Students are not required to have a particular language as their focus, and many of our majors just love learning languages, and end up studying more than one foreign language. Several of our students have English as one of their second languages, and often can go on to work with a focus on two or more languages.  (However, it’s important to remember that, to meet the  General Education requirement for Hawaiian/Second Language, you must take courses or prove proficiency through the 202 level in one second language.)

What are the requirements for a major in SLS?

Along with General Education Core requirements, students who wish to pursue a BA in SLS need to earn a total of 33 credits divided between required courses (24 credits) and electives (9 credits), as well as the Arts & Sciences “depth or breadth” requirements. For more details, read about planning your degree in SLS and declaring a major in SLS.

Can I complete my major in 4 years?

Completion of a BA in SLS can be done in 4 years, provided students plan accordingly through regular advising sessions with an SLS advisor. An example 4-year plan shows how it is possible to complete all requirements within the UH system and the SLS major.

Current Students

What is the SLS Capstone course?

The Capstone course (SLS 485) is an opportunity for students to synthesize what they have learned throughout their SLS coursework in ways that will help them understand what it means to be a professional in the field of second languages. Students will explore their personal values, beliefs, and ethics as they are related to languages, and what opportunities are available to people with a BA in SLS. The final step involves the development of a professional portfolio.

When should I take the Capstone course?

The Capstone course should be taken in the next to last or last semester before graduation. For a variety of important reasons, we recommend taking it in your next to last semester (for more information, ask an advisor)

Do I need to write a thesis?

There is no thesis requirement for a BA in SLS. However, students will create a professional portfolio as part of the Capstone course.

What is a professional portfolio?

A professional portfolio is your collection of materials, resources, and other professional documents to showcase your professional growth in ways that make you more competitive for the next step in your professional life. For more information and sample portfolios, click here.

How can I gain professional experience before I graduate?

Several opportunities exist for students studying SLS, including volunteering and internships in and around Honolulu. Click here for more information.