Modern Languages Program

One of Penn’s most venerable and vital program communities, MLP is dedicated to students who wish to improve their language proficiency and immerse themselves in new cultural experiences… while having fun at the same time. Residents in Class of 1925 belong to one or more of the five language houses,  ArabicChineseFrenchGerman, and Spanish, each of which holds multiple events a week, including regular coffee hours or dinners, entirely in the target language. Based on student proposals and leadership, we sometimes offer additional in-language programming; for example, in the 2016-2017 year we hosted a more informal, student-run ASL House.    

The majority of these events take place in C'25's Greenhouse.  Popular supplemental activities include film screenings, game nights, dance instruction, and the annual International Dinner, as well as cafe, restaurant, film, museum and performing arts trips downtown.

MLP participants range from novice speakers with little foreign language experience to multi-lingual international students; generally, about three-fourths are freshmen. Some  are language majors, many are minors, but neither is a requirement; the program tends in particular to attract students interested in international relations and travel.  Students planning to study abroad, or returning from a semester abroad, usually find the program an attractive option.

Program Directors—graduate students who are either native or fluent speakers—supervise the houses; returning students also play an essential role in language house leadership.

One unique facet of MLP is that the language departments at Penn realize the value of our programming and award students a half credit per semester for their work. Students enrolled for credit must attend the majority of events that semester, of course; enrollment is entirely optional.   Arabic, French, German and Spanish Houses offer the academic credit option.

Goals and Expectations

MLP is dedicated to aiding students interested in acquiring, developing, and maintaining competency in a foreign language.  As constant practice, not formal instruction, is at the heart of the program, students new to their chosen language(s) are strongly urged to simultaneously enroll in introductory level classes.  Since credit enrollment is entirely optional, students are under no obligation to commit to the full schedule of activities, but we certainly expect that all of our residents will participate from time to time.

MLP's central philosophy is to encourage students to exercise their conversational muscles on a regular basis. Though individual Program Directors can tailor their syllabus each semester to suit their own schedules and those of their participants, the average lineup is expected to contain 2-5 events per week entirely in the target language, which may include dining at 1920 Commons, coffee hours within the House or nearby cafes, or culturally-themed activities like cooking, music, film, dance, and games.  Excursions to relevant events in the city may be substituted (speakers, restaurants, festivals, etc).

ALL GREGORIANS ARE WELCOME TO TAKE PART IN MLP!  It doesn't matter which building you live in, what class year you are or whether you applied directly to the program or not; our activities, including the academic credit options, are open to all residents of the House. 

Application Process for the 2019-2020 Year

New Freshmen: Submit the standard freshman room preference form online at myhomeatpenn, identifying MLP as one of your top choices. Submit an essay specifying which language house(s) you are interested in, and give us a short amount of information about your background, fluency level, and specific interests related to the program. Please write your essay in English!  We will try to give you an apartment with students interested in the same languages(s), but that is sometimes not possible given the differing numbers of applicants for each language from year to year. We can generally accommodate specific roommate requests.  Freshmen are housed in four bedroom quads, all with bathroom and a very small number with living room.

Returning Gregorians
Apply for Housing between January 24th and February 7th.  Take part in either the "Retention" Process or the "Priority Return to House" process as appropriate.  You can live anywhere in Gregory and take part ; there are no specific upperclass rooms set aside for MLP.

New Upperclassmen 
Upperclassmen who do not currently live in Gregory apply between January 24th and February 18th and take part in the Move to Another House process. You can live anywhere in Gregory and take part; we do not set aside particular rooms for MLP.  In the fall, attend the intro meetings for your language house of choice to enroll or signal your interest to participate.  Note that your roommates may not be in any language houses (unless you are applying together!).  We do recommend that new Gregorians interested in MLP live in the Class of 1925 building, which houses our language programming and staff, but that is not required.