Language Requirement

The graduate program in the Department of English requires students demonstrate current proficiency in a natural language other than English (natural languages are all languages, including ASL, that have evolved naturally in humans through use and repetition; natural languages do not include planned languages, including computer programming languages). There are multiple reasons that language proficiency is required. These include the following: 


  • Extensive, and technical, familiarity with a language other than English constitutes apowerful way for graduate students to gain an understanding of the distinctive characteristics of English grammar and syntax. 

  • Proficiency in a language other than English allows students access to primary and secondary texts composed in that language. Graduate students in all areas of English studies with even a modest level of proficiency benefit from this access.
  • To fulfill our Department’s commitment to diversity, it is vital for students to gain proficiency in languages other than English. To gain a basic understanding of non- English-speaking cultures requires a familiarity with the languages of those cultures. 

  • As English itself is an increasingly culturally and geographically differentiated language, deep familiarity with the languages English comes into contact with is vital to an understanding of English’s global manifestations.


Doctoral research in some specialties (such as Medieval, Renaissance, or U.S. Ethnic literatures) may require proficiency in additional languages beyond the one that satisfies the departmental requirement. Students therefore must discuss the language requirement with faculty in their chosen area of specialization, as soon as possible in their programs.

There is no set list of languages approved for Ph.D. candidates in English, but the expectation is that students will choose a language pertinent to their research interests.


Non-native speakers of English may use their native languages to fulfill the departmental requirement unless their area of study makes knowledge of some other particular language/s indispensable. 


For doctoral students, the language requirement(s) should be met by the end of the first year of enrollment beyond the M.A., and must be met before any part of the Candidacy Examination may be scheduled.


Students can fulfill the language proficiency requirement in any of the following 6 ways: 


1) Students may take the MultiCAT, a multimedia computer-adaptive placement test designed to place students of French, German, and Spanish with prior language experience into appropriate university-level courses. The MultiCAT tests both language comprehension and production. To fulfill our language proficiency requirement with the MultiCAT, students must do one of the following:

  • If the student and their advisor decide that both comprehension and production are necessary for their further research, the student must score above a 29.6 on both sections.

  • If the student and their advisor decide that comprehension alone is suitable, the student must score above a 29.6 on just the “comprehension” portion of the MultiCAT. Please note: Students will need to be in contact with the Foreign Language Coordinator prior to taking the MultiCAT if just a “comprehension” score is necessary, as MultiCAT does not automatically produce a score solely for comprehension. The Coordinator will need to confirm with the Center for Languages, Literature, and Cultures that the MultiCAT is set up correctly for the student.

2) If requirement is to be met with a language not offered by MultiCat Students may take a placement test administered by an OSU department that teaches the language in question, and they must place into a 2000-level class. This is the method of choice for ASL and other signed languages. If the language in question is not taught at OSU, the student will meet with the language proficiency coordinator to set up a testing process. (Note: if the language is one tested through the MultiCat, the MultiCat must be taken.)

3) Students may take a year's worth of university-level language classes and get at least a B in both semesters. Students must consult the appropriate language department for course offerings. Since sequences often begin only in the Autumn Semester, students should be sure to check well ahead of time when the courses will be offered. 


4) Students may complete a graduate reading course offered by an OSU language program with a grade of B or higher (see below for more information on departments offering reading courses).

In consultation with the student’s advisor and the Language Proficiency Coordinator:

5)  Students may take a translation test (typically a translation with the aid of a dictionary) administered by an OSU language program, qualified faculty member of the English department, or qualified faculty member at another university, as approved by the Language Proficiency Coordinator. Students intending to take a translation exam administered by another department should note that each language department has its own set of deadlines that must be met in order to enroll for the exam. Students should contact the relevant language department during the semester before they intend to take the exam in order to ensure that they do not miss the exam registration date. 


6)  Students may take an oral proficiency test. Students can show proficiency based on the following the criteria:

  • Comprehension: The examinee understands the content of an oral text such as a primary source, or radio or broadcast news story. The content may be on current events or on a topic relevant to a student’s research. The examinee must show ability to: 1) summarize a given text in a cohesive and coherent manner without prompting, 2) produce a statement summarizing their own view of the event, and 3) answer follow-up questions in a cohesive and coherent manner. 

  • Grammar: The examinee shows ability to both narrate and describe events producing extended, connected discourse in all major time frames (past, present, and future). The reference point for ‘comprehension’ is a speaker who does not speak other languages that the examinee is proficient in.
  • Vocabulary/ Professional Vocabulary: Vocabulary may be primarily generic in nature. However, if the examinee must use the language under examination for their scholastic work, they must also show command of relevant vocabulary when dealing with topics of interest. This will be decided in consultation with the student's advisor. Circumlocution and rephrasing are to be expected. 

  • Speech: Speech must be clear and not lead to confusion. Pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and discourse structure should not be so faulty as to prevent comprehension by a speaker not proficient in the other languages in which the examinee is proficient. Discourse may reflect the information structure of the examinee’s own language/s, rather than that of the target language.

7) In cases where an examiner cannot be located, students can take the Oral Proficiency Interview, as administered by OSU’s Testing Center and described here: http://www.registerblast.com/theosu/Home/Tab/346 The Department may pay the fees associated with the OPI upon approval. 


Reading Courses and Exam Information for Common Language Choices

Below you will find information about German, French, Spanish, and Italian reading proficiency classes and testing procedures. In the past these have been the most common choices made by students and so these departments have the most structured systems for assessing proficiency. If another language is more appropriate for your research, you should contact the department directly for assessment procedures.

German

Courses that satisfy graduate reading proficiency include German 6102 and German 6202. Contact Natascha Miller (miller.521@osu.edu) with questions about coursework prerequisites.

If you choose to take the reading exam to demonstrate proficiency, you must schedule it in cooperation with your advisor. Your advisor should select a passage for you to translate and submit it, along with a completed exam scheduling form, as directed on the exam website. Information about testing dates is usually updated the third or fourth week of the semester; visit the exam website to view testing dates and download the exam scheduling form.

French

Courses that satisfy graduate reading proficiency include French 6571 and French 6572. Contact Joan Obert (obert.1@osu.edu) with questions about coursework prerequisites.

If you choose to take the reading exam to demonstrate proficiency, you must schedule it in cooperation with your advisor. The Department of French and Italian provides a detailed overview of the test, as well as information on exam preparation, evaluation, dates, and registration on their website.

Spanish

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese does not offer courses to demonstrate reading proficiency in Spanish.

You must schedule the reading exam in cooperation with your advisor. The Department of
Spanish and Portuguese provides a detailed overview of the test, as well as information on exam preparation, dates, and registration on their website. Contact Jan Macían (macian.1@osu.edu) if you have any questions that the website does not address.

Italian

The Department of French and Italian does not offer courses to demonstrate reading proficiency in Italian.

You must schedule the reading exam in cooperation with your advisor. The Department of French and Italian provides an overview of the test on their website. Contact Joan Obert (obert.1@osu.edu) to schedule the exam and to request more detailed information on testing dates and procedures.

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