The Language Requirement in Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan
The Language Requirement is part of Columbia's mission to prepare students to be informed and culturally sensitive citizens. Knowledge of another language and culture is the best way to understand the contingent and constructed nature of one's own culture, and therefore to appreciate both its achievements and its shortcomings. Turning another culture into an object of knowledge trains us to achieve the same critical distance from our own, which in turn creates the conditions for our leading an examined life within our own social milieu.
The study of a language is not merely the acquisition of a set of grammatical skills, but an opening into another way of organizing the world. The two years of language study that are required by Columbia University represent the minimum proficiency required to achieve this goal. All students are encouraged to consider deepening their study and practice of a foreign language beyond this minimum.
For students with no knowledge of Catalan at least four terms of the language are required: W1101 - W1102 (or W1120) and W1201 - W1202 (or W1220). All courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the Language Requirement.
There is no placement examination for Catalan. Students with prior knowledge of Catalan (secondary school, living abroad, near-native or native speakers) should register in the course that they believe is their appropriate level and speak to the professor of the class about placement.
For students with no knowledge of Portuguese, at least three terms of the language are required: W1101-W1102 (or W1320 for Spanish speakers) and W1201-W1202 (or W1220). All courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the Language Requirement.
Students with prior knowledge of Portuguese (formal courses taken at other schools, living abroad, near-native or native speakers) who plan to continue studying Portuguese are required to take a Placement Examination before registering for a course.
The Language Requirement may be fulfilled in Portuguese by:
- Presenting a score of a 7, 6, or 5 on the International Baccalaureate higher Level Exam in Portuguese.
For students with no knowledge of Spanish at least four terms of the language are required: W1101 - W1102 (or W1120) and W1201 - W1202 (or W1220). All courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the Language Requirement.
All students new to the Spanish Language Program at Columbia are required to take the Department’s Placement Examination before registering for a course or provide proof of exemption.
You may be able to obtain an exemption from the Language Requirement in Spanish in ONE of five ways:
1. By obtaining a score of 625 or higher in the Department's online Placement Examination. Your exemption in this case will be verified by taking another version of the Placement Exam in person:
- For the Fall semester: This exam will be offered every year on the Thursday before the beginning of classes from 10:00 a.m – 1:30 p.m. in Room 352 of the International Affairs Building (the Language Resource Center Computer Lab). This year it will be on Thursday, August 28, 2014. You do not need to make an appointment to sit for this exam.
- For the Spring semester: You may retake the Exam at Casa Hispánica’s Main Office from 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
- If you received a score of 5 in either exam you will be awarded three advanced placement credits upon successful completion of a 3300-level (or above) course in Spanish with a grade of B or higher. There is no Advanced Placement credit granted for a score of 4.
3. OR by presenting a score of 780 or above on the SAT Subject Test. Students with a score lower than 780 should take the department's online Placement Examination and follow the placement advice received.
4. OR by presenting a score of a 7, 6, or 5 on the International Baccalaureate Higher Level Exam in Spanish.
5. OR by presenting the certification of the D.E.L.E Examination (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera) for either the Intermedio or the Superior levels.