Michigan State University
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Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages
Less Commonly Taught Languages
Home > Additional Programs > Less Commonly Taught Languages > Placement Testing for Language Classes


LCTL Recommendations for Waiving Foreign Language Requirements

Proficiency Testing in Languages Offered by the Department
The Less Commonly Taught Languages Program offers proficiency tests for most of the languages we offer. Please contact the LCTL coordinator to find out which languages we are prepared to test.

The exam will measure both oral (speaking and listening) and literacy skills (reading and writing). There is a $50 administrative fee to take the test. These exams are set up on an individualized basis. The student will be provided with the contact information of the instructor or faculty member administering the test, and the student and instructor/faculty member will determine a test time and location. On the day of the test, the student must bring photo identification and the $50 dollars examination administration fee.

After a student takes the exam and demonstrates a proficiency level at or above the language requirement for which he or she is trying to waive, the coordinator will write a letter to the student's advisor recommending that the student be allowed to waive the requirement.

For more information, please contact the LCTL program coordinator Danielle Steider.

Proficiency Testing in Languages Not Offered by the Department
If we do not offer a teacher-fronted class for a given language, we may not be able to offer a proficiency test. In such cases, students need to locate a MSU faculty member who is fluent in the language. If a faculty member who is fluent in the language and willing to administer the test is located, it is possible, but not guaranteed, that we can offer the test.

The faculty member and coordinator of less commonly taught languages will decide if the faculty member is comfortable with and able to perform such assessment duties. Speaking a language does not guarantee the ability to assess the student's level of language proficiency. Faculty members willing to provide such assistance will be asked to assess student abilities based on an assessment scale provided by the less commonly taught languages coordinator.

If we are not able to provide a proficiency test, students may be able to pursue testing with a national center. The following are two well-respected and internationally recognized centers, but it is the student's responsibility to determine if these tests will satisfy their language requirement: 

Language Testing International, the ACTFL Testing Office
Brigham Young National Language Achievement Testing Service

Waiving Foreign Language Requirements for Students Educated in a Language other than English
Students who have completed at least 8 years of formal education at an institution where the language of instruction was not English may be able to have their language requirement waived for that particular language. The student must be able to provide documentation of such schooling. If these documents are not written in English, the students must locate and pay for a translation of these documents, and submit a copy of the original and translated versions to the less commonly taught languages coordinator.

Placement Testing for LCTL Classes
Heritage speakers of a language and students with past experience learning the target language need to contact the instructor of the class or the program coordinator for a placement test to determine which level is appropriate. Native speakers of a language who are fluent and literate in that language should not enroll in that language class; instead they should read the recommendations for waiving foreign language requirements.