Everything you need to know about the CAS Language Requirements

All CAS students have to show proficiency at the fourth-semester level or higher in a language other than English.  The Department of Romance Studies regularly offers courses through at least the fourth semester in French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.  The Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literatures (Modern Languages and Comparative Literature)  offers full course sequences in nine different languages for fulfillment of this requirement; still other courses may be found in African Languages, Modern Greek, Ancient Greek, and Latin. (American Sign Language is a special case; see Q and A below.)

Students who have previously studied a language outside of Boston University must take a placement exam before enrolling at BU so that they can be placed at an appropriate level. The French, Italian, and Spanish Placement Exam may be taken online. Please contact the MLCL/RS Information Office at (617) 353-2642 or Jennifer Cavanaugh by e-mail for further help.

CAS Language Requirement Q & A

My placement test score says I belong at the fifth-semester level or above. So have I fulfilled the language requirement already?

No! Placement tests only advise you about proper placement; they fulfill no requirements. But if you sign up for one semester of the language at the fifth-semester level (LS 306-LS 310) or above (LS 350-), you will satisfy the language requirement.

 

I already took the AP or the SAT-II in my foreign language. Does that fulfill the requirement?

Yes, if your score met CAS requirements: An AP score of 4 in Spanish, French, or Italian; an SAT-II score of 560 or above, or a score of 5 or above on the International Baccalaureate (IB) exam.

I didn’t take the SAT-II test in a language, but I bet I could pass. Can I still try?

The CAS Advising office no longer offers testing for the SAT II on campus, but students are still eligible to take it. Contact the SAT College Board website for information on the testing centers nearest you.

I grew up speaking a language other than English. Am I exempt from the language requirement?

If your native language is not English or if you have near-native proficiency in another language, go to http://www.bu.edu/casadvising/forms, click on “forms” and select “Foreign Language Proficiency Evaluation Form”.  Fill it in and submit it electronically. You will be contacted via email regarding the next step in the evaluation process. Contact Mary Beth Raycraft-Guzman at Academic Advising, 100 Bay State Road if you have any questions. Her email is: mbrg@bu.edu.

For all modern spoken languages, the proficiency testing includes reading, writing, and speaking; so if you can converse in a language but can’t read or write it very well, you’ll probably have to complete coursework to satisfy the requirement. (In some languages special courses are offered for students in this situation; for example, CAS LS309. Call the department at 3-2642 or e-mail and ask to be referred to a faculty member who can advise you about your language.)

I want to take sign language. Why can’t I find any courses in it?

American Sign Language at BU is offered through the Deaf Studies Program, and ASL courses are open to CAS students after the first semester of their freshman year. The four-semester course sequence is as follows:

SED DE 570 American Sign Language I
SED DE 571 American Sign Language II
SED DE 590 American Sign Language III
SED DE 591 American Sign Language IV

Course descriptions can be found on the Deaf Studies Program website . At the end the fourth course, students will have the opportunity to take a proficiency test (this is sometimes misleadingly called a test of “bilingualism,” but it actually corresponds to fourth-semester-level proficiency). You fulfill the CAS requirement by passing this test. We’ll say that again: ASL, because its classes are not taught in CAS, is an exceptional case: the fourth-semester language class does not satisfy the requirement by itself. The proficiency test does. For more information, contact the Deaf Studies Program in the School of Education.

I feel insecure about my background in a language. My placement test tells me that I’m at a certain level, but I’d feel more comfortable taking a lower level instead. Can I?

This is almost always a bad idea. You may feel shaky now, but languages come back to you quickly once you get into the classroom. You won’t be the only one feeling uncertain when the class starts, don’t worry — and the feeling won’t last long. Please be assured that our placement tests are an accurate indicator of a student’s level of competency in the language.

Those students who enroll in language classes below their level are easily recognized and will be asked to consult with the Head of the Spanish Language Program about moving up a level. They will not be permitted to remain in a level that is too easy or unchallenging for them because this would also be considered unfair to the other students in the class.

Can I fulfill part of my language requirement while studying abroad?

Yes, some BU study abroad programs offer courses at the first- and/or second-year level (some examples are Chinese in Shanghai, French in Grenoble, German in Dresden, Italian in Padova, Spanish in Madrid or Burgos, or Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro).

For information regarding the new Portuguese Brazil Study Abroad program, please contact Célia Bianconi. See the Study Abroad link for details of all programs: http://www.bu.edu/abroad/find-programs/by-language/

I’m in a hurry. Can I take two levels of a language simultaneously to save time?

If you’re beginning Spanish, you can take an intensive elementary course, LS123, which covers two semesters in one and prepares you for LS 211.

If you’re beginning Portuguese, you can take an intensive elementary course, LP123, which covers two semesters in one and prepares you for LP 211.