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Foreign Language Requirements
Foreign Language Requirements for Non-native Speakers of English
Graduate Student Association of International Studies
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Survey of International Expertise
International students who are not native speakers of English must demonstrate proficiency in English by a TOEFL score of 550 or better (213 or better on the computer version). This is an entrance requirement.
It is recommended that non-native speakers of English have at least the entrance levels of English proficiency specified in the English Language Proficiency Guidelines found in the Appendix at the time that they begin their course work in the MA in International Studies Program. By the time they graduate, non-native speakers of English are required to have attained the exit levels of English language proficiency specified in the Guidelines. Note that the level of writing proficiency is higher for the thesis option than for the non-thesis option.
During your first semester in the MA in International Studies Program, you are required to meet with the Director of the Foreign Language Requirement (Dr. Sylvie Debevec Henning, 328-5520). The purposes of this meeting are:
· To make an initial determination of your foreign language proficiency (or English language proficiency for non-native speakers of English) in the four skills areas or to arrange for such a determination if it cannot be made from the available information. Usually this initial determination involves an interview in the foreign language to assess oral proficiency and, for French, German or Spanish, a standardized exam to assess listening, reading and writing skills. Initial proficiency assessment in other languages involves a variety of means tailored to the language.
· To establish a plan for how you will attain the required exit levels of
ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCIES
(Based on the "ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines" published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in 1986.)
RECOMMENDED ENTRANCE LEVELS
You can satisfy the requirements of everyday situations and routine school and work requirements. You can handle with confidence but not with facility complicated tasks and social situations, such as elaborating, complaining, and apologizing. You are able to narrate and describe with some details, linking sentences together smoothly. You can communicate facts and talk casually about topics of current public and personal interest, using general vocabulary. Shortcomings can often be smoothed over by communicative strategies, such as pause fillers, stalling devices, and different rates of speech. Circumlocution that arises from vocabulary or syntactic limitations very often is quite successful, though some groping for words may still be evident. You can understood without difficulty by native interlocutors.
You can understand main ideas and most details of connected discourse on a variety of topics beyond the immediacy of the situation. Your comprehension may be uneven due to a variety of linguistic and extralinguistic factors, among which topic familiarly is very prominent. These texts frequently involve description and narration in different time names or aspects, such as present, nonpast, habitual, or imperfective. Texts may include interviews, short lectures on familiar topics, and news items and reports primarily dealing with factual information. You are aware of cohesive devices but may not be able to use them to follow the sequence of thought in an oral text.
You are able to read somewhat longer prose of several paragraphs in length, particularly if presented with a clear underlying structure. The prose is predominantly in familiar sentence patterns. You should get the main ideas and facts but may miss some details. Your comprehension will derive not only from situational and subject matter knowledge, but also from increasing control of the language. Texts at this level include descriptions and narrations such as simple short stories, news items, bibliographical information, social notices, personal correspondence, routinized business letters and simple technical material written for the general reader.
WRITING (ADVANCED PLUS)
You can write about a variety of topics with significant precision and in detail. You should be able to deal with most social and informal business correspondence. You are able to describe and narrate personal experiences fully but you may have difficulty supporting points of view in written discourse. You can write about concrete aspects of topics relating to your particular interests and special fields of competence. You may often show remarkable fluency and ease of expression but under time constraints and pressure your writing may be inaccurate. You will be generally strong in either grammar or vocabulary, but not in both. Weakness and unevenness in one of the foregoing or in spelling may result in occasional miscommunication. You may still misuse vocabulary occasionally. Your style may still be obviously foreign.
REQUIRED EXIT LEVELS
SPEAKING (ADVANCED PLUS)
You can satisfy the requirements of a broad variety of everyday, school, and work situations. You are able to discuss concrete topics relating to your particular interests and special fields of competence. You are beginning to demonstrate an ability to support opinion, explain in detail, and hypothesize. You demonstrate a well-developed ability to compensate for an imperfect grasp of some forms with confident use of communicative strategies, such as paraphrasing and circumlocution. Differentiated vocabulary and intonation are effectively used to communicate fine shards of meaning. You often show remarkable fluency and ease of speech but under the demands of Superior-level, complex tasks, your language may break down or prove inadequate.
LISTENING (ADVANCED PLUS)
You are able to understand the main ideas of most speech in a standard dialect; however, you may not be able to sustain comprehension in extended discourse which is propositionally and linguistically complex. You demonstrate an emerging awareness of culturally implied meanings beyond the surface meanings of the text but you may fail to grasp sociocultural nuances of the message.
READING (ADVANCED PLUS)
You are able to follow essential points of written discourse at the Superior level in areas of your special interest or knowledge. You can understand parts of texts which are conceptually abstract and linguistically complex, and/or texts which treat unfamiliar topics and situations, as well as some texts which involve aspects of target language culture. You can comprehend the facts to make appropriate inferences. You are beginning to demonstrate an awareness of the aesthetic properties of language and of its literary styles permits comprehension of a wider variety of texts, including literary. You may still misunderstand some passages.
THESIS OPTION (SUPERIOR)
You are able to express self effectively in most formal and informal writing on practical, social and professional topics. You can write most types of correspondence, such as memos as well as social and business letters, and research papers and statements of position in areas of special interest or in special fields. You have good control of a full range of structures, spelling and a wide general vocabulary, allowing you to hypothesize and present arguments or points of view accurately and effectively. An underlying organization, such as chronological ordering, logical ordering, cause and effect, comparison, and thematic development is strongly evident in your prose, although not thoroughly executed and/or not totally reflecting target language patterns. Although you demonstrate sensitivity to differences in formal and informal style, you may still not be able to tailor your writing precisely to a variety of purposes and/or readers. The errors you make in writing rarely disturb natives or cause miscommunication.
NON THESIS OPTION (ADVANCED-PLUS)
You can write about a variety of topics with significant precision and in detail. You can write most social and informal business correspondence. You can describe and narrate personal experiences fully, but you have difficulty supporting points of view in written discourse. You can write about concrete aspects of topics relating to your particular interests and special fields of competence. You often shows remarkable fluency and ease of expression, but under time constraints and pressure your writing may be inaccurate. You are generally strong in either grammar or vocabulary, but not in both. Weakness and unevenness in one of the foregoing or in spelling may result in occasional miscommunication. You may sometimes still misuse vocabulary. The style of your prose may still be obviously foreign.
You are able to speak the language with sufficient accuracy to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations on practical, social, professional, and abstract topics. You can discuss special fields of competence and interest with ease. You can support opinions and hypothesize, but you may not be able to tailor language to audience or discuss in depth highly abstract or unfamiliar topics. You may be only partially familiar with regional or other dialectical variants. You command a wide variety of interactive strategies and show good awareness of discourse strategies. The latter involves the ability to distinguish main ideas from supporting information through syntactic, lexical and suprasegmental features (pitch, stress, intonation). May may make sporadic errors, particularly in low-frequency structures and some complex high-frequency structures more common to formal writing, but no pattern of errors is evident. Errors do not disturb the nature speaker or interfere with communication.
You are able to understand the main ideas of all speech in a standard dialect, including technical discussion in a field of specialization. You can follow the essentials of extended discourse which is propositionally and linguistically complex, as in academic/professional settings, in lectures, speeches and reports. You demonstrate some appreciation of aesthetic norms of target language, of idioms, colloquialisms and register shifting. You are able to make inferences within the cultural framework of the target language. Your understanding is aided by an awareness of the underlying organizational structure of the oral text and includes sensitivity for its social and cultural references and its affective overtones. You rarely misunderstand, but you may not understand excessively rapid, highly colloquial speech or speech that has strong cultural references.
You are able to read with almost complete comprehension and at normal speed expository prose on unfamiliar subjects and a variety of literary texts. Reading ability is not dependent on subject matter knowledge, although you are not expected to comprehend thoroughly texts which are highly dependent on knowledge of the target culture. You read easily for pleasure. Superior-level texts feature hypotheses, argumentation and supported opinions and include grammatical patterns and vocabulary ordinarily encountered in academic/professional reading. At this level, due to the control of general vocabulary and structure, you are almost always able to match the meanings derived from extralinguistic knowledge with meaning derived from knowledge of the language, allowing for smooth and efficient reading of diverse texts. You may still occasional misunderstand; for example, the you may experience some difficulty with unusually complex structures and low-frequency idioms. Material at this level will include a variety of literary texts, editorials, correspondence, general reports and technical material in professional fields. Rereading rarely necessary, and misreading is rare.
You are able to express self effectively in most formal and informal writing on practical, social and professional topics. You can write most types of correspondence, such as memos as well as social and business letters, and research papers and statements of position in areas of special interest or in special fields. You have good control of a full range of structures, spelling and a wide general vocabulary allow the writer to hypothesize and present arguments or points of view accurately and effectively. An underlying organization, such as chronological ordering, logical ordering, cause and effect, comparison, and thematic development is strongly evident, although not thoroughly executed and/or not totally reflecting target language patterns. Although you demonstrate sensitivity to differences in formal and informal style, you may still be able to tailor your writing precisely to a variety of purposes and/or readers. Errors in writing rarely disturb natives or cause miscommunication.