First foreign language certificates awarded
By Jennifer Vanasco
The first Foreign Language Proficiency Certificates have been awarded to 33 students, allowing College students not concentrating in a foreign language to graduate with certification of proficiency in a foreign language for the first time.
The Foreign Language Proficiency Certificate Program, which was put into place two years ago, requires students to take foreign language classes, study abroad and pass a competency exam similar to one given by the State Department for diplomats.
"The certificate is not for language majors," said Philippe Desan, the Howard L. Willett Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures and Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division. "This is for the political scientist who wants to study the government of France, or the chemist who wants to work in a lab in Germany or the student who wants to work for an international bank. Globalization is a buzz word now, and this will help our students communicate successfully across cultural and national boundaries. It makes them more marketable.
"This wouldn't have been possible without the changes that were made in the curriculum," Desan added. "But now, with the extra flexibility, students can do work abroad, and they can take extra language classes as an elective or a minor. The certificate is a good asset for them."
The students who received the certificate studied French, German, Italian or Spanish for the equivalent of two years, and also took one additional advanced course. They each studied for at least one quarter abroad, living with host families while enrolled in an intensive language program that was taught in the language they were studying.
"We prefer them to participate in one of the College-sponsored programs abroad, since they are taught by our own instructors, but any intensive-language program that meets our standards is fine," Desan said. "In the future, we hope to add programs in East Asian, South Asian and Middle Eastern languages. About 80 percent of our students are taking French, German, Italian or Spanish, but that doesn't make other languages less important."
College-sponsored study abroad programs are currently available in Costa Rica; Toledo, Spain; Paris and Tours, France; Berlin and Weimar, Germany; and Bologna and Pisa, Italy.
To receive the foreign-language certification, students must pass an oral and written examination each quarter. Students who pass the program receive certificates signed by John Boyer, Dean of the College; the certification is also noted on their transcripts.