Language Proficiency

Why does the RCAH have a language proficiency requirement?

The study and use of world languages is an essential part of the experience of RCAH students. In learning a language other than English, students are able to gain greater insight into other cultures as well as their own. Language proficiency is a way to understand and interact with other cultures. It is also a valuable skill for employment in today's world.

What level of proficiency does the RCAH require?

The RCAH expects all students to become “Independent Users” of a language other than English. At this level, students are able to understand and use the language for personal (e.g., travel), occupational, and academic purposes. An Independent User has an adequate range of language necessary to describe experiences, events, hopes and ambitions; to discuss hypothetical situations; to speculate about causes and consequences; to explain opinions, giving advantages and disadvantages of various options or positions; to interact with a native speaker with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that doesn’t cause strain for either person; to initiate discourse; to take her/his turn when appropriate and to end a conversation when she/he needs to.*

Are there any restrictions on which language I choose to learn?

Students are able to choose the language in which they would like to become proficient. However, because the RCAH defines proficiency as the USE of language, Latin, Ancient Greek, and computer languages do not satisfy the proficiency requirement.

How can I become proficient in a language other than English?

The RCAH has created a Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) model to provide opportunities for students to apply and strengthen their knowledge of world languages and cultures in a variety of curricular and extra-curricular contexts within the RCAH as well as in the wider community. This program is in addition to the language courses and other resources (CeLTA, Conversation Connection, Workshops for Language Learners) offered through the College of Arts and Letters.

Integrated Language Options (ILOs) constitute the core elements of the RCAH CLAC Program. ILOs provide language immersion opportunities for students. In an ILO, students use the language to collaborate with each other and their language mentor on a semester-long project, such as those detailed here. ILOs:

  • Are connected to a theme or topic of an RCAH course
  • Are led by native or near-native speakers of the language
  • Are conducted entirely in the world language
  • Meet 2 to 3 hours each week
  • Do not require homework assignments
  • Are not graded
  • Do not affect a student’s grade in an RCAH course
  • Do not have any prerequisites; students of any proficiency level can participate

What is the RCAH Certification of Language Proficiency?

The RCAH Certificate may be used for various purposes. For example, students may use the Certificate to verify their level of proficiency for employment, volunteer work, or, in some instances, study abroad opportunities.

How can I obtain the RCAH Certification of Language Proficiency?

To receive the Certification, students must:

  • Complete MSU language coursework through one 300-level course
  • Complete a minimum of 8 RCAH ILOs
    • 4 of which must be at the intermediate or higher level
  • Compile a language portfolio that contains work from ILOs
  • Pass the RCAH Test of Language Proficiency (effective Fall 2014)
  • Participate in study abroad, study away, and/or study at home/in community

A waiver from any or all of the certification requirements is possible. Each individual and her/his combination of language experiences are unique; therefore, each student’s particular situation is reviewed individually, on a case-by-case basis.

What are the RCAH graduation requirements for language proficiency?

The current graduation requirements (which are different from the RCAH Certification) are:

  1. Take the oral language proficiency test for diagnostic purposes at the appropriate time, as determined in consultation with the student's RCAH advisors.
  2. Complete 4-credits of RCAH 390;
  3. Complete one of the following two options:

A.   Pass the oral language proficiency test, or

B.   Complete the equivalent coursework through the 202-level and at least one 300-level course, all in one of the approved languages.  A study abroad/away experience can substitute for one or more of the courses required in Option B with approval of the RCAH Director of Student Affairs and the RCAH Coordinator of Language Proficiency, in consultation with the leader of the student’s study abroad/away program.

What RCAH resources are available?

In addition to participating in Integrated Language Options, the RCAH Language and Media Center supports world language proficiency through an array of resources and services, including a library of films; dictionaries and other reference books; magazines and newspapers, and board games. The LMC is located in E037 Snyder Hall (terrace level) and is open Sunday through Thursday, 1 to 10 p.m., and Friday, 1 to 5 p.m.

Students participating in ILOs are eligible for the
Dean's List for World Language Immersion.

* “Independent Users” as described by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.