By spring break of their second year in the program, MAGES students must demonstrate proficiency in two European languages other than English.

Oral proficiency is required in one language; reading proficiency is required in the other.

Accepted Languages

Any language other than English that naturally arose on the European continent can be used to fulfill the language proficiency requirement. Students most commonly choose German, French, Spanish, and Russian, but languages such as Azerbaijani, Irish, Georgian, Latin, and Turkish have also been selected. Proficiency in a signed language (British Sign Language, French Sign Language, etc.) may theoretically also satisfy the oral proficiency requirement.

If you are unsure whether your chosen language will satisfy the European language proficiency requirement, speak with the Supervisor of Academic Programs.

Oral Proficiency

The oral proficiency exam tests whether students have sufficient speaking and listening ability to use the target language in a professional environment.

It is strongly recommended that students make their first attempt at the oral proficiency exam no later than the fall semester of their second year. Students who wait until the spring of their second year and fail the attempt will have difficulty graduating on time.

The format of the exam varies among the administering departments.

The departments of GermanFrenchItalian, and Spanish and Portuguese offer oral proficiency exams every semester. Students should contact these departments to schedule their exams.

For other languages, students should confer with the Supervisor of Academic Programs. For many languages, there are faculty available on campus who can administer oral proficiency exams. For other languages, students must work with the Supervisor of Academic Programs to find someone off-campus to administer the exam.

Prior to taking the exam, students should see the Supervisor of Academic Programs to receive an exam ballot. The exam administrator will complete this ballot and return it to the Supervisor of Academic Programs.

Reading Proficiency

The reading proficiency exam tests students’ ability to comprehend writings in the target language well enough to read them for research and professional purposes.

Students will receive a newspaper or magazine article in the target language and a list of approximately five questions about the reading, posed in English. Responses to the questions are written in English. Students may consult a dictionary during the exam. Reading proficiency exams last 90 minutes.

To schedule a reading proficiency exam, students should work with the Supervisor of Academic Programs. 

Native Speaker Status

Students who attended a secondary school in which the primary language of instruction was a European language other than English may receive native speaker certification in this language. The oral proficiency requirement is then waived.

To receive native speaker certification, provide the Supervisor of Academic Programs with secondary school exit exams, a diploma, or other proof that the language of instruction was a European language other than English.