Advising Handbook - Language Proficiency

This is for Faculty/Staff use only. Check with department for official information.

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree (and some Bachelor of Science majors) must satisfy the foreign language proficiency requirement. No credit is awarded for elementary year college coursework if the student has had two or more years of that language in high school. The University requires that students satisfy the requirement by the end of the sophomore year. Students should be aware that if too much time has passed since their language study in high school, then it is more difficult for the student to feel comfortable with that foreign language. Language classes that satisfy the requirement may not be taken pass/fail. The requirement may be satisfied several ways.

How to Satisfy the Language Competency Requirement

Satisfy one of the following:

  • Complete elementary level (2 semesters, 401 & 402) of a language taken less than 2 years in high school

  • Complete one semester of a language course beyond the elementary level (503, 504, 631, 632).  Students should consult individual programs for particular offerings

  • Achieve the following scores (or better) on individual SAT2 foreign language achievement
         S2CL Chinese 520
         S2FR French 540
         S2GR German 510
         S2HB Hebrew 470
         S2IT   Italian   520
         S2JL  Japanese 510
         S2LT  Latin     530
         S2SL or S2SP Spanish  520

  • Receive Advanced Placement (AP) AP credit:
         Chinese 4, 5
         Latin 3, 4, 5
         French 4, 5
         Spanish Language 3 (SPAN 503 equivalent)
         German 4, 5
         Spanish Language 4 (SPAN 504 equivalent)
         Italian 4, 5
         Spanish Language 5 (SPAN 631 equivalent)
         Japanese 4, 5
         Spanish Literature 4, 5

  • Petition: some instances when this might be appropriate:
         -If student has a documented learning disability
         -If  English is not a student’s native language

Students who are registered with Disability Services for Students (DSS) may talk to the Director of DSS about petitioning to the Executive Committee of the College of Liberal Arts for alternate arrangements to satisfy the foreign language proficiency requirement.

Note: Intermediate level language classes, 503 or 504, satisfy both the General Education Group V/ Discovery World Cultures and the language proficiency requirement. At present, SPAN and FREN 631 or 632 satisfy both BA Foreign Language and World Culture requirements.

Students who have received an AP test score of 4 or 5 in French should be able to handle the 631-level of language study.

503 or 504 Language Placement

Placement in French and Spanish is determined by a student’s performance in the placement exam and information about previous study. All students who wish to continue their study of French and Spanish are required to take the placement test when they have two or more years of high school study.

For all other languages the following guidelines may be helpful in determining the appropriate level of language study.  Advisors should contact the appropriate contacts, listed under the College of Liberal Arts section of the Handbook, if they have questions regarding placement.

Students with three years of high school language study should enroll in 503 if:

  • They have an average of B or better.
  • They know the present tense well and have been introduced to the past tenses (Russian has only one past tense).
  • They have basic vocabulary (family members, everyday actions, words related to personal tastes, asking and answering questions, etc.).
  • They have reading (may be stories) and writing experience in the language (personal writing, short opinion essays).

Most students with four years of high school language will be qualified for 503. However, some may be over-qualified and should register for 504 if:

  • They know the past tenses fairly well (can use them in writing) (Russian has only one past tense).
  • They have reading (short stories, magazine articles) and writing experience in the language (formal, one-page opinion essays).
  • Their last year course was conducted in the language.
  • They were expected to use the language in class (asking and answering questions, performing short conversations with peers, presenting skits) (not necessarily applicable to Russian or Latin).

American Sign Language

  • Students may use both COMM 401 and COMM 402 (formerly COMM 533 and 733) to satisfy the language competency requirement, if it is allowable under the policy of the student’s major department. In the College of Liberal Arts, only Linguistics, Psychology, Theatre and Women’s Studies majors may use COMM 401 and 402 to satisfy the requirement.

Language Requirement for Students for Whom English is Their Second Language

  • The language competency requirement is satisfied for students for whom English is their second language. Students, for whom English is not their native language, or for those who have spoken an additional language fluently at home and/or school, may request a waiver of this requirement if one was not automatically generated; such students should submit a Petition for Variance form to their Dean’s Office.