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Foreign Language


CONTENTS       Graduation requirement
      University requirement
      Arts and Sciences requirement
Completion of the foreign language requirement
      Proficiency through the third quarter
      Satisfying the requirement with higher-level coursework
      Foreign study
      Transfer courses
      American Sign Language
Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate
Grades required
      Pass-fail transfer courses
      Courses taken as a nonmatriculated student
      Grade required if the requirement is met with a fourth-quarter course
Placement and proficiency tests
      Exemption by placement or proficiency test
      Continuing the foreign language taken in high school
      Continuing a foreign language taken in college
      Continuing a foreign language in which the student has only informal experience
      Eligibility for placement tests
      Repeating a placement test
Proficiency testing in languages not offered by the UW
      Eligibility for proficiency tests
High school duplication
      First-quarter language courses taken before matricuation
      Recording the grade
      Two languages taken in high school
      Petitions
Native speakers
      Exemption from the graduation and/or admission requirement
      Credit for courses in the native language
Overlaps and restrictions
Transfer Associate Degree Agreement
Postbaccalaureate students
Admission deficiency

Graduation requirement

   

University requirement

The University has no foreign language requirement, aside from the admission requirement of two years of one foreign language in high school.

Arts and Sciences requirement

Students graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences must demonstrate proficiency through the third-quarter level of a foreign language. Students who start college anywhere in autumn 1985 or later and graduate from the UW College of Arts and Sciences must complete the foreign language requirement described in this AIF. Students who started college before autumn 1985 are eligible for an earlier "proficiency" requirement, described in Pre-1985 General Education and Basic Skills Requirements. See Determining quarter of entry if the date when the student started college isn't clear.
  
  

Completion of the Arts and Sciences foreign language requirement

   

Proficiency through the third quarter

Students must demonstrate proficiency through the third-quarter level of a foreign language, either by completion of the third quarter of a foreign language with a grade of at least 2.0 or placement into the fourth college quarter (see Placement tests). Courses designed primarily for conversational practice (e.g., GERMAN 150) do not count toward the proficiency requirement.

Satisfying the requirement with higher-level coursework

A student who begins college language study at the fourth-quarter level, or higher, and successfully completes the course (0.7 grade or higher; for S/NS see below), has satisfied the foreign language requirement. Such a student may count the course, and any additional coursework in the language, toward VLPA. Note that placement into the fourth quarter, by itself, satisfies the requirement. For students who place at this level or higher, coursework is not required.

"Higher-level" coursework includes language instruction at the level of the fourth quarter or higher, or a literature course in which the literature is read in the original language (even if the course itself is conducted in English). Basically, whether or not a course qualifies is determined by common sense. If the student has demonstrated, by successfully completing the course, that s/he is familiar with the vocabulary and syntax of another language at a level comparable to at least the end of the third quarter of the language, the requirement has been satisfied.

Conversation courses, even if upper-division, cannot be used to establish foreign language proficiency.

Foreign study

199 (foreign study) credit in a foreign language (such as FRENCH 199) is always language instruction. If the student completes at least 12 credits with a grade of at least 2.0, the credit satisfies the foreign language requirement. DARS has been programmed to recognize this.

If a student has earned credit for first-year foreign language courses, the first 15 credits of these courses and foreign study 199 (all in the same language, of course) should be counted toward the A&S foreign language requirement. Any credits in excess of 15 can be counted toward VLPA. For example, if a student who has completed FRENCH 101, 102 also has 12 credits of FRENCH 199, FRENCH 101, 102 and 5 credits of the FRENCH 199 should count toward the foreign language requirement, and the remaining 7 credits of FRENCH 199 can count toward VLPA.

299 foreign study credit is usually, but not always, second-year foreign language study. It is usually posted as VLPA in the Course Catalog but will not count as second-year foreign language unless the adviser for the department offering the course makes or requests a DARS exception, after discussing course content with the student. The department adviser may also flag 299 credit as I&S or even NW, if appropriate.

Transfer courses

The foreign language requirement is met by completion of any three-quarter or two-semester introductory foreign language sequence totalling at least 12 quarter credits. If a student has skipped part of the sequence, it is the level completed rather than the number of credits earned that is important. Transfer X credits (such as FRENCH 1XX) may be counted toward the foreign language requirement, if they represent language instruction and not courses devoted primarily to literature in translation or conversational practice.

A two-semester language sequence satisfies the requirement if sequence totals 8 semester credits (= 12 quarter credits). Normally, such a sequence should be posted as 101 (4), 102 (4), 103 (4). If you see one posted as 101 (5), 102 (5), 1XX (2), contact the Office of Admissions and ask that the evaluation be changed. DARS will not recognize a first-year language course as satisfying the foreign language requirement unless it is at least 4 credits and the student earned a grade of at least 2.0. If a student completed only the second semester of a language, it should be posted as 102 (2), 103 (4).

Foreign language courses that transfer as UW 1XX must be flagged by an adviser as "F" using SRF330. Only the third quarter of the sequence needs to be flagged. Again, the course must be at least 4 credits and the student must have earned a grade of at least 2.0.

American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) counts for admission, foreign language, and VLPA requirements in exactly the same ways as any other language. ASL is a language in its own right, and is different from Manual English, which does not satisfy foreign (i.e., non-English) language requirements.
  
  

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate

    Students with scores of three or higher on the appropriate advanced placement (AP) exam offered by the College Board will be awarded credit for second-year language courses that satisfy the foreign language requirement. For information about the credit granted for specific AP scores see AP Credit Policies.

Students who complete International Baccalaureate foreign language exams are awarded second-year credit for Higher Level examination scores of 5, 6, or 7. (UW does not award credit for Standard Level examinations.) The second-year credit awarded will satisfy the Arts and Sciences foreign language requirement and may also count toward VLPA. For specific awards see the IB Credit Table.

IB scores submitted before summer 2003 were awarded 5 quarter credits for each Higher Level subject in which a score of 5 or higher was earned. This is generally recorded as, for example, FRENCH 999. This counts toward Arts and Sciences college requirements as if it were equivalent to the fourth quarter of the language, and can be used both to satisfy the foreign language requirement and to count toward VLPA. FRENCH 999 can't be used for placement.

The current IB awards for subject exams are retroactive, but either the student or the adviser must contact the Office of Admissions to request the update. This may not be necessary if the student's score was 5, since the old and new awards are the same number of credits and satisfy the same requirements, but a student whose score was 6 or 7 would receive additional foreign language credit.

  
  

Grades required

    A student must earn a 2.0 or higher in the third-quarter foreign language course. If taken after matriculation at the UW, the course may not be taken Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS). A student can present less than a 2.0 or even S grades in the first two quarters of the language; it is only the grade in the third-quarter course that determines if the requirement has been satisfied. If the third-quarter course is transferred from another college, the grade must be at least 2.0 or C (not C-).

Pass-fail transfer courses

The foreign language requirement may be satisfied with a third-quarter or second-semester transferred course taken under a student-option pass-fail system only if the course was taken before the student matriculated at the UW.

Courses taken as a nonmatriculated student

The foreign language requirement may be satisfied with a third-quarter UW course taken S/NS if the course was successfully completed before the student matriculated at the UW.

Grade required if the requirement is met with a fourth-quarter course

If a student earns below a 2.0 in the third quarter but later passes the fourth quarter (or a more advanced course) with at least a 0.7, the foreign language requirement is satisfied. An "S" grade in the fourth-quarter course is also acceptable. The student may also count the fourth-quarter language course toward Areas of Knowledge, if appropriate, and if the course is taken for a regular grade. (Courses taken S/NS cannot count toward Areas of Knowledge.)

In some instances, a student may meet the A&S foreign language requirement by taking a two-quarter introductory language sequence followed by a course at the second-year level. Examples of this include:

  • GREEK 300, 301 (Accelerated Greek) plus GREEK 305 (Attic Prose)
  • HEBR 414, 415 (Elementary Biblical Hebrew) plus HEBR 426 (Biblical Hebrew Prose)
  • AKKAD 401, 402, 403 (Elementary Akkadian, 3 credits each) plus AKKAD 421 (Intermediate Akkadian, 3 credits)

In such cases - where the second-year level course is substituting for the third quarter of the language, which is not offered by the UW - the student must earn a grade of at least 2.0 in the second-year level course, and the course may not also count toward VLPA. In other words, the course is treated as if it were the third quarter of the language.

  
  

Placement and proficiency tests

    The Testing Center, 440 Schmitz Hall, offers placement tests in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, and Korean. The Testing Center also offers proficiency testing in Arabic, Russian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Urdu, and Hindi. For placement in other languages the student should contact the department. For proficiency testing in languages not offered at the UW, see below.

Exemption by placement or proficiency test

A student who takes a UW foreign language placement test and places into the fourth quarter or higher is exempt from the Arts and Sciences foreign language requirement. No additional test or coursework is required.

Special proficiency tests are offered in Arabic, Russian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Urdu, and Hindi (by the Testing Center) and Chinese (by the Asian Languages and Literature department). A student who passes the test is exempt from the Arts and Sciences foreign language requirement. A student who wishes placement in Chinese should take the department's placement test, not the proficiency test.

A student who places into the fourth quarter or higher does not need to take any further action to satisfy the foreign language requirement. The Testing Center notifies the Graduation and Academic Records Office and DARS, and subsequent DARS reports should indicate that the student has satisfied the requirement. There will also be a notation on SRF310 and on the student's unofficial transcript. The notification occurs automatically for students who took the placement test in winter quarter 2002 or later. A student who placed into the fourth quarter or higher before winter 2002 should contact the Testing Center, which will start the notification process.

Continuing the foreign language taken in high school

A student who wishes to continue his/her high school foreign language must take a placement test, even if s/he wishes to start over at the first quarter. The student must enroll in the course into which s/he placed, and not in a higher-level or lower-level course.

The placement test requirement applies only to the student's high school "language of admission," the language used to meet UW's high school core admission requirement. If a student was admitted with a foreign language deficiency (less than two years of any one language completed), no language is coded as the language of admission, and a placement test is not required if the student wishes to start the language over with the first quarter. For example, a student whose only high school foreign language was one year of French could register for FRENCH 101 without taking the placement test.

If a student took two languages in high school, the one in which the student completed the most units is the language of admission. If the student took each language for an equal number of units, the most recent language is the language of admission. If a student who took two languages in high school wishes to have the other language posted as the language of admission, the student must obtain a letter of agreement from the department offering the language the student is switching from and submit the letter to the Admissions Office. The letter is required because the student is, essentially, asking for permission to start over, for credit and without a placement test, at the beginning of a language already taken in high school.

Continuing a foreign language taken in college

A student who already has college credit in a language may register for the next quarter of the language without a placement test. The student is also permitted to repeat a course or even start over with the first quarter, again without a placement test. Such a student may, of course, take a placement test if s/he chooses-as might be a good idea if, for example, the previous coursework was several quarters ago and the student wants to determine his/her current level in the language. In such a case the placement test score is not binding. When both a placement test score and posted courses in the language are available, the posted courses are used to determine eligibility. If the placement test score places the student higher than the posted college coursework, the student should contact the department offering the language for permission to enroll in the course.

Continuing a foreign language in which the student has only informal experience

Students with uncredited background in Chinese must answer an online questionnaire available at the Asian Languages and Literature department website, and must be interviewed by the department. A student who is fluent in Vietnamese but cannot read or write the language should contact the Asian L&L department and speak with the instructor. A student with other uncredited background in Vietnamese should take the Vietnamese placement test, offered once each quarter by the Asian L&L department.

A student who wishes to start French, Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese, or Korean above the first-quarter level based on uncredited experience with the language must take the placement test.

For other languages, contact the department.

Eligibility for placement tests

Except in the case of an applicant who needs testing to meet the University admission requirement, foreign language placement tests should be taken only after a student is admitted to the UW.

Repeating a placement test

French, Italian, and Spanish tests may be repeated after 6 months have passed. The Japanese test may be repeated once per quarter. The Korean and German tests can be taken twice in a 12-month period with a 75-day wait between tests.
  
  

Proficiency testing in languages not offered by the UW

    Students who do not have an admissions deficiency in foreign language but who wish to meet the foreign-language graduation requirement by testing in a language that the University does not offer should be referred to Undergraduate Advising, 171 Mary Gates Hall. For some languages, there is already a person approved to administer tests; in others, it may be possible to find someone (preferably a University faculty or staff member who is a native speaker) who can be approved. The Graduation and Academic Records Office will be notified that the student has passed a test under approved testing arrangements. The results will then be posted on the student's permanent record and on the SRF310 screen in the Student Database.

If an applicant for admission to the UW has a foreign language admissions deficiency and needs testing, arrangements must be made through and approved by the Admissions Office.

The College of Arts and Sciences wishes to honor students' knowledge of languages it does not teach, particularly if it is the language of the student's ancestors. If no one is available to administer a test, Undergraduate Advising will arrange for the student to demonstrate his/her knowledge of the language. Demonstration will include such activities as a review of the student's background in and current use of the language, discussion of the syntax and other linguistic aspects of the language, speaking extemporaneously in the language, reading it aloud, translating from and to the language, and writing in it. Usually there will be some material to read that the student will not have seen before, but students are also encouraged to bring materials with them that they wish to use for the demonstration. A student who can demonstrate reasonable fluency in speaking, reading, and writing the language will be exempted from the foreign-language requirement.

The UW does not grant credit based on proficiency testing in languages not offered at the UW.

Eligibility for proficiency tests

Except in the case of an applicant who needs testing to meet the University admission requirement, foreign language proficiency tests may be taken only after a student is admitted to the UW. They may be taken either before or after a student has completed college coursework in the same topics.

If an applicant requests a proficiency test to remove a foreign language admission deficiency, arrangements must be made through the Admissions Office.

  
  

High school duplication

    The basic rule for disallowing credit in the language of admission is that after matriculation at UW, a student who had two or more years of a language in high school will not receive credit for beginning that language over again with the first course (e.g., SPAN 101, JAPAN 111).

The policy applies only to students who began college in autumn 1987 or later. If a student began college before then and has lost credit, the error should be pointed out to Admissions and/or Graduation and Academic Records. (Note, however, that the question of when the student began college is decided by Admissions according to official records of transferred credit, and does not follow the more liberal policy that Undergraduate Advising uses in determining whether students are allowed to use the pre-1985 proficiency requirement.)

First-quarter language courses taken before matriculation

In autumn 1996 the policy described above was changed to allow credit so long as the student had not matriculated at the UW before the course was taken. The change is retroactive, but the records of students previously denied credit were not automatically updated. If an adviser notices that such a student should receive credit, the adviser should notify the Office of Admissions.

Recording the grade

When credit for the beginning-level course is taken away the grade remains visible on the transcript, but is not calculated into the student's GPA.

Two languages taken in high school

Because the Admissions Office codes only one language as the language of admission, a student who had two or more years of two languages in high school would be able to get credit for 101 (111) in one of them but not the other. Normally, the language coded as the language of admission will be the one that the student studied most, or, if the high-school units are equal, the one studied more recently. If the coding was done while senior-year language study was in progress, it may be appropriate to ask Admissions to revise the coding. (For example, if a student had Spanish in ninth and tenth grades and Japanese in eleventh and twelfth, but Spanish is coded as the language of admission, the coding could be changed to Japanese, and the student could receive credit for SPAN 101.) A change in coding can also be done with the specific approval of the language department offering the course whose credit is in question. For example, if the coding in the above case correctly showed Japanese as the language of admission because the study of it was more recent and was equal to the study of Spanish, the Asian Language department could-but is not obliged to-give approval to the Admissions Office to have the coding changed to Spanish, so that the student could receive credit for JAPAN 111.

Petitions

A student may petition the Arts and Sciences Graduation Committee to be allowed credit for the first quarter of the foreign language of admission, but such petitions are seldom, if ever, granted. The policy affects many students, and it would be difficult to make the case that one student should be given special treatment not available to others.
  
  

Native speakers

   

Exemption from the graduation and/or admission requirement

For purposes of exemption from the foreign-language graduation requirement (as well as for admission), a student is considered a native speaker of a foreign language if it was the language (or one of the languages) spoken in the home during the first six years of childhood and in which s/he received instruction in elementary school, through the seventh grade. Such students are exempt from the foreign-language requirement without taking a proficiency test. Students who immigrated too early in their school careers to meet the University's administrative definition of a "native speaker" may nevertheless be able to gain exemption by taking a test.

Starting with students admitted for winter quarter 2005, students who meet the University's definition of a native speaker will be coded so in the Student Data Base, and DARS will show that the student has satisfied the Arts and Sciences foreign language requirement. Prior to winter 2005, it was not always possible to tell from the information provided by the Admissions Office (screen 306 in the Student Data Base) whether a student met the University's definition, since the Admissions Office's focus was on recording at least one way in which the student met the foreign-language requirement for admission, rather than all ways. In these cases, the adviser may simply ask the student whether he/she attended school through the end of the seventh grade in his/her native language. Only if there is reason to doubt the student's word would it be necessary to ask for proof. Advisers should either make the exception or email the DARS (dars@u.washington.edu) office to have a notation added to the student's record that s/he is a native speaker of a specific language other than English.

If the student attended a school in which some of the instruction was in the native language and some was in English, the adviser should try to ascertain whether the student functioned as a native speaker in school, reading and writing in the language at the level of sophistication that might be expected if the school had been taught in that language only. The foreign-language requirement includes the assumption that a student should be able to read and write, as well as speak, a language other than English (at least at the level of a student who earns a 2.0 or higher in a 103-level college course). Students who did not finish seventh grade in their native language should be referred to the department offering the language for proficiency testing. If the University does not offer the language, or if there are unusual circumstances that might warrant special consideration, contact Undergraduate Advising.

Credit for courses in the native language

Native speakers of a language other than English are not normally allowed to earn credit for the first two years of college credits in their native language. Often they are allowed to earn credit at the third year and beyond; ultimately, however, the language department has the right to place the student at the appropriate level. Transfer credit for coursework in the first two years of the native language will be taken away by the Admissions Office. The enforcement of the restriction in UW courses (as well as the granting of exceptions for academically sound reasons) is the responsibility of the instructor and the language department. If the instructor allows the student to remain in the class without objection, credit will not later be taken away by the Registrar's Office.
  
  

Overlaps and restrictions

    First-year foreign language courses cannot count simultaneously toward the foreign language requirement and Areas of Knowledge. In the language that is being used to meet the foreign language requirement, none of the 15-credit first-year sequence can be used toward Areas of Knowledge. Any additional credit beyond the first-year sequence can be counted for Areas of Knowledge, unless it is taken S/NS. This includes all credit at the fourth quarter and beyond, even if the student begins at that level. It also includes any supplemental credit at the first-year level, such as GERMAN 150 (conversation) or GERMAN 121, 122 (reading), which count for VLPA if the student has completed the 103 level of the language. (Credit for any course beyond the first year, except those designed primarily for conversational practice, also satisfies the foreign language requirement, even if the grade is "S" or is below 2.0.) For UW schools/colleges that do not require foreign language beyond the UW admission requirement, any first-year foreign language instruction credits can be counted toward VLPA if the student completes the third quarter of the language. An exception is the College of Engineering, which does not allow VLPA credit for first- and second-quarter language courses.

Courses used to satisfy the foreign language requirement can also count toward the student's major, if applicable.

  
  

Transfer Associate Degree Agreement

    Students who enter under the Transfer Associate Degree Agreement are not exempt from the foreign language requirement solely on the basis of having earned the degree. Students who have completed foreign language courses and counted them toward Areas of Knowledge for the associate degree will, after transfer to the UW, need to count them toward the foreign language requirement instead (if their UW school/college requires foreign language). Because of this, such students usually need additional courses in Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts after transfer.

Students who enter under the Transfer Associate Degree Agreement who satisfy the foreign language requirement with coursework in one language (call it language A), or who are native speakers of a language other than English, can count toward VLPA any courses in a different foreign language (call it language B) taken before transfer to the UW-again, if the student satisfies the foreign language requirement with a different language than the one being counted toward VLPA. The student is allowed to count all foreign language B courses toward VLPA even if the community college allowed only some of the credits to count toward humanities.

Example: A student completes, as part of a transfer associate degree at a Washington community college, GERMAN 101, 102, 103 and FRENCH 101. The student then transfers to the UW. The student uses the GERMAN to satisfy the foreign language requirement and can count the FRENCH 101 toward VLPA.

  
  

Postbaccalaureate students

    Students who have already completed a bachelor's degree at the UW or elsewhere are exempt from the foreign language requirement (both the University admission requirement and the Arts and Sciences graduation requirement).
  
  

Admission deficiency

    A student is deficient in foreign language if s/he lacks the University admission requirement of two high school years (units) of a single foreign language. Completion of any foreign language instruction course at the second-quarter level or higher, with any passing grade, will remove a foreign language admission deficiency. Placement by the UW into the third quarter of a foreign language will also remove a foreign language admission deficiency. For more information see Removal of a High School Subject Deficiency.

Courses taken to remove a high school deficiency may count toward the foreign language requirement. The first two quarters of a language taken at the UW to remove admission deficiencies may be taken S/NS, but note that the third quarter of the language must be taken for a regular grade if it is to satisfy the foreign language graduation requirement.