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Language Study at DePauw

May 1, 2017

Dear Class of 2021,

Welcome to DePauw! As new students, you have many decisions to make regarding the course requirements of the general education program. One of these is which language you will use to fulfil the requirement that you demonstrate language proficiency at the second semester,  and perhaps as a course of minor or major study. Many of you have studied a language for some time, and while you may be eager to continue with it, we offer eight pivotal world languages in our department (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Russian), so we encourage you to consider the possibilities of pursuing a new language altogether. While the final decision is yours, we are here to help you in the process. We outline here the various procedures and options for language learning at DePauw.

The Placement Exam

If you choose to study a new language, you have the option of requesting  the first elementary class in it during the June course request period. In that scenario, you would not need take a placement exam at all, and you would take two semesters of that new language at the beginning (100) level in fulfillment of DePauw’s language requirement.

Many of you have already made a long-term commitment to one of the languages that we offer. We celebrate that commitment, and we are prepared to help you move forward with your studies. If you wish to continue taking a language that you have already begun to learn, or satisfy the language requirement by means of a high placement score, you will take your official placement exams in August during Orientation Weekend, with representatives from all our language programs present. However, you may choose to take a diagnostic exam in June as a reference for what level you might begin at. The exam is available at:

DePauw University Placement Exam
password: new1
authorization code: 123456

Modern Languages faculty, whose contact information is listed below, will help you develop a better idea of your placement level (depending on your high-school program, you will place anywhere in between the first-year second-semester level and the third-year level).

Studying a New Language

While the prospect of studying a new language might seem daunting, we believe the rewards are worth the challenge. Even at the most elementary levels, we offer a program of study that engages students in the cultural, political, and philosophical landscapes that surround each language. As you develop your language skills, you will also develop your ability to think with international and cross-cultural agility and sensitivity. That is, after all, why we insist on some language study as part of your general education requirements. New perspectives and insights await you in your first year courses. A new language may serve as an enrichment of that experience.

A Note to Spanish Students

For those of you who have studied Spanish previously, and who are interested in continuing with Spanish, we want you to know that you are welcome to do so, and that we welcome you in that endeavor. However, we also want to be realistic and confirm that given the high demand for beginning Spanish, it can be very difficult to find a space, even after four years! For that reason, we encourage you to consider first, second, and third choices of languages to take in fulfillment of your language requirement. We believe that you will benefit most from language study if you begin immediately, and in conjunction with your other general education requirements. We note that it would still be an option to pursue Spanish after the language requirement is fulfilled with another language.  Remember that if you want to start learning a language you have never studied before, you can request the introductory course as part of your course request this June as there is no need to take a placement exam in this case.

International Students

We remind our international students that if their native language is a language other than English, they are considered to have fulfilled the language requirement. However, we warmly invite international students to pursue one of the languages we offer at the appropriate level.

Contact Information

We know that there is much to discuss with your First Year Advisor after you arrive on campus, but we are also available to answer your specific questions about the language requirement at DePauw, and our many programs. Feel free to contact any of us, and, once again, welcome!

Cheira Belguellaoui, Associate Professor, Coordinator of the French Program,

Hiroko Chiba, Professor, Coodinator of the Japanese Program,

Sherry Mou, Associate Professor, Coordinator of the Chinese Program,

María Luque, Professor, Coordinator of the Spanish Program,

Howard Pollack-Milgate, Coordinator of the German Program,

Alejandro Puga, Associate Professor, Chair of the of Modern Languages (Can answer general questions and questions related to Arabic and Russian),

Francesca Seaman, Associate Professor, Coordinator of the Italian Program,