Frequently Asked Questions:

Please take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions below. If you continue to have questions not answered by our website, please contact CAS Advising, or 617-353-2400.

Foreign Language Placement Exams

If you are continuing study in ChineseGermanHebrew, or Japanese, please see instructions for the on-line placement tests here:

If you are continuing study in FrenchItalianPortuguese, or Spanish, please seen instructions for the online placement tests here:

These are not the only languages we offer!  The above languages have online placement exams, but all other languages will have placement exams during the first week of classes in September.  In addition to the languages listed above, Boston University also offers: Arabic, American Sign Language, Amharic, Greek (both ancient & modern), Hindi-Urdu, Hausa, Igbo, Korean, Latin, Persian, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, Wolof, Zhosa, and Zulu.

Please check with the Modern Languages and Comparative Literature, the Department of Romance Studies, the Department of Classical Studies, or the African Studies Department for placement exam times and locations.

What if I am a bilingual student, and wish to take a proficiency exam?

For bilingual students only :

If you prefer to fulfill the language requirement by demonstrating proficiency in your native language, please contact the person listed here to schedule a proficiency exam.

Interested in Studying Abroad?

If you are interested in studying abroad, please talk to your professors and visit the Study Abroad website.

How do I get study abroad courses equated?

1) Equivalences for language courses offered through a non-BU External Study Abroad program

If you would like to consult on BU equivalences for language courses offered through a non-BU External Study Abroad program, Emily Whalen, Program Manager for External Programs, must also be involved in this process. For more information, please read the instructions at the following website:

2) Equivalences for language courses offered through BU Study Abroad program

In order to have BU study abroad courses counted for your major or minor : you should work with your RS/MLCL advisors: the advisor should notify our office of an approved substitution indicating the requirements that have been fulfilled by the study abroad courses for which you have already received BU credit.

What if I'm anxious about learning a language?

Try a language class with a lower enrollment such as Arabic, Hindi-Urdu, or one of the African languages.   These classes frequently offer an opportunity to engage with students and faculty in a smaller, less-intimidating setting.

Should I consider trying a new language that I haven’t studied before?

If you are interested in the linguistic and cultural challenge of a new language, give it a try!  Research suggests that each foreign language that you add is a bit easier to learn.   You will start a new adventure that will only enhance your global perspective!

Should my study of a language continue beyond the requirement?

By taking more advanced courses you will become increasingly comfortable interacting in the language and its culture.  These communication and cultural skills will serve you well as you pursue study abroad, internship, and professional opportunities.

What resources are available around campus?

For students wishing to take advantage of the many opportunities available to them to practice or get help with a specific foreign language:

- you can join small, informal conversation groups led by native and accomplished speakers (in 12 different languages) at the Educational Resource Center (language link)
- you can set up appointments with peer tutors at the ERC as well (peer tutoring) (to seek tutoring with a professor, contact
- you can use learning tools at the Howard Thurman Center (HTC)
- you can take non-credit, informal classes in 8 different “critical-need” languages with the Project Go!

Do you want to live in a Language House?

If you would like to live at a Specialty house, visit the Specialty Community residence webpage.