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Fulfilling foreign language requirement questions?

  1. May 14, 2013 #1
    I know that as a physics major, we are required to have an "intermediate level" fulfillment of a foreign language for our BA. However, since I am hoping to double major (physics/astrophysics or physics/engineering), the less extra courses I can take, the better. As such, I'm studying up on my Spanish on my own to try to have to take as few courses in foreign language as possible.

    I did have a few questions that I wasn't sure about at this point. If anyone has any answers to them, that would be great:

    1. Is there a placement test for foreign language that would allow you to skip to a higher level?

    2. If I went the CLEP route, can I choose to not receive college credits for doing so? I ask because this would allow me to take more courses involving my majors without getting penalized financially for too many credit hours.

    3. If there is no way to skip up to intermediate level, how many courses do you need to take in order to reach what is considered intermediate level in a foreign language?

    4. Has anyone in grad school or post-grad seen any actual benefit to knowing German? I had heard previously that it is the preferred language for physics majors, but I am not sure how accurate that information was.

    5. Does knowing multiple foreign languages offer any actual benefit when applying to grad schools or in the field after grad school, or is it better to put those studies towards other things?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2013 #2

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    1. and 2. You need to ask someone at your university, because it varies from one university to another. The person(s) responsible for decisions about exam or placement credit might be in the registrar's office, or in the appropriate language department.

    3. The information about the number of courses needed to satisfy your university's language requirement should be on their web site somewhere, under something like "general education requirements."

    If you end up studying or working in Europe, even if only for a while, knowing either German or French is obviously useful. Most everybody you're likely to interact with professionally will probably speak English anyway, but it's still useful for everyday life there, and travel during vacation periods.

    I studied German beginning in high school, and even spent a semester in Germany under my college's study-abroad program. I did it because I enjoy studying languages in general, and German's historical connection with science. Professionally, I used it for reading some background material in the original German for my dissertation, and for earning a bit of extra money during grad school by translating some technical stuff from East Germany for a government contractor.

    It also give me an "in" for meeting my wife, who teaches German (no, she was not one of my instructors). :smile:
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
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