Foreign Language Requirements

Prior to advancement to candidacy, students must fulfill a foreign language requirement in one of the following ways:
1. Show evidence of completion, within the last five years, of the equivalent of two years of foreign language study at the college/university level with a grade of B or better; or
2. Show evidence of completion, within the last five years, of an upper-division foreign language literature course taught in the language with a grade of B or better; or
3. Demonstrate a reading knowledge of a foreign language through a departmentally authorized examination; or
4. Completion of a pre-approved translation project supervised by a qualified academic fluent in the language of choice. Interested students will submit a written proposal and timeline to the Graduate Coordinator who will, in consultation with the Graduate Committee, review and approve projects on a case-by-case basis. The project must detail how intermediate reading knowledge will be demonstrated. The proposal must detail how intermediate reading knowledge will be demonstrated. Approved projects must be undertaken for academic credit, typically a 3.0 unit independent study (e.g., French 697 or an approved equivalent) taken for a letter grade; a grade of B or better satisfies the foreign language requirement.
Note: Appropriate accommodations will be made for the deaf or hearing impaired. Units earned in language courses will not be counted toward the 30 units required for the Master of Arts in English. The language studied must be a major literary language or American Sign Language (ASL). International students from non-English-speaking countries will be exempt from this language requirement.

Definition of Grading Standards for the Foreign Language Translation Exam

(Adopted 5 May 2008)

According to the University Catalog, the English Department’s foreign language exam asks student to demonstrate “reading knowledge of a foreign language through a departmentally authorized examination.” We understand “reading knowledge” to be the equivalent of the “coursework option” for fulfilling the foreign language requirement, i.e., two years of foreign language study at the college or university level, at which point the student is generally expected to demonstrate intermediate proficiency in the language.

Since our department uses a translation exam to exemplify “reading knowledge,” and since that exam is graded pass/fail, the Graduate Committee hereby establishes the following grading criteria in an effort to clarify what constitutes “intermediate proficiency” in a foreign language. These guidelines are necessarily broad and do not discuss the issue of text selection; the Graduate Committee has adopted a separate policy regarding text selection for the exam.

The following definition of intermediate proficiency is adapted from the reading comprehension standards established by the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. Revised ed. Hastings-on-Hudson, NY: ACTFL Materials Center, 1985).

Reading Comprehension, Intermediate Proficiency

Student is able to read simple, linguistically non-complex texts consistently with full understanding. Student can get some main ideas and information from texts at higher levels (for example, texts featuring description and narration). Structural complexity may interfere with comprehension; for example, basic grammatical relations may be misinterpreted and temporal references may rely primarily on lexical items. The student has some difficulty with the cohesive factors in discourse, such as matching pronouns with referents. Comprehension of linguistically-advanced texts is less consistent. Some misunderstandings will occur. The student may have to read material several times for understanding.