Before enrolling in any World Language course, students who have prior experience in that language must first be evaluated to determine which course level best corresponds to their current skills in the language. This evaluation will be done either through an online Placement Exam or through a review of the number of years that the student has studied the selected language. The process will vary according to the language the student wishes to study.
First Step: World Language Placement Survey
First, each student is required to complete a World Language Placement Survey that asks them which language they wish to study and if they have any prior experience in the language. This survey is an online form that can be accessed through Etrieve Central.
For courses in Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish, students with prior experience in the selected language will take a Placement Exam. It is an online assessment that evaluates the student’s proficiency in the language. It is adaptive to the student’s answers, and takes between 20-30 minutes to complete. More information is available.
Because the Placement Exam is adaptive, it tests proficiency and capability in the language rather than memorization, and this allows for a more accurate determination of placement.
Please note: Results of the World Language Placement Exam will be validated in an effort to ensure proper placement. Placement will be cross-checked with the number of years of study in the world language evaluated on the exam, and wide discrepancies will be validated by consulting with the student.
*Any student with 4 or more years of high school study in a world language may not enroll in a 101-level course of that language.
If a student places lower than they expected, only in appropriate cases the student may move up to the next level course. To request moving up a level, students should contact the World Languages Placement Coordinator.
If a student places higher than they expected, only in rare cases may the student move down to a lower-level course. In general, this is not allowed in an effort to maintain fairness and consistency in the world language courses. As an alternative, the student will be able to enroll in a new world language course that they have not previously studied, at the 101 level.
Number of Years Studied
If a student has no prior experience or only 1 year of high school study in the language they wish to study, they will be placed into a 101-level course of that language. This means that they have not studied the language more than one year, nor do they speak it at home.
For courses in Arabic, American Sign Language (ASL), and Latin, there is no online Placement Exam. Students will be placed according to the number of years of study of the language.
The following policy is used:
- No more than two years of the language in high school
- Three years of that language in high school or having completed 101
- Four years of that language in high school or three years if final year at advanced level or
- Having completed 102 or AP with a score of 2 or less
- Having completed 201 or AP with a score of 3
- Five or more years of that language or AP with score of 4 or 5
Students who wish to study ASL above the 101 level will need to contact the American Sign Language Coordinator.
Please check on Self-Service for course levels and availability.
Policy for Native Speakers
A student who speaks a world language other than English as their first language is considered a native speaker. Their language skills are evaluated according to the Placement Policy on this page.
Native speakers may not register in a class below the 201 level in their native language. They may instead continue study of another language or begin a new one.
Native students of Arabic should consult the World Language Placement Coordinator.
Native students of ASL should consult the American Sign Language Coordinator.
Native speakers of world languages other than those offered by the Department of World Languages and Cultures are not awarded course credit for proficiency in these languages. Instead, these students have the option of continuing study of a different language, or beginning study of a new language.
Policy for Heritage Speakers
A student who has verbally interacted with at least one parent in a world language other than English is considered a heritage speaker. Their language skills are evaluated according to the Placement Policy on this page.
Heritage students of Arabic should consult the World Language Placement Coordinator.
Heritage students of ASL should consult the American Sign Language Coordinator.
Heritage speakers of world languages other than those offered by the Department of World Languages and Cultures are not awarded course credit for proficiency in these languages. Instead, these students have the option of continuing study of a language studied in high school or beginning study of a new language.
Can I Take a 101-level Course?
Students may only take a 101-level world language course if
- They have placed into a 101 level through the World Language Placement Exam.
- They have no experience or no more than 1 year of high school coursework in the world language they wish to study.
Please note: Any student with 4 or more years of high school study in a language may not enroll in a 101-level course of that language.