Why take a foreign language at the University?
Language classes are an excellent opportunity to enhance your studies at the University. Many people have found the developing those skills which you began in high school can help smooth the transition to the University. Studying a language can also help you develop into a better all-around student. Foreign language study is the key to intercultural knowledge because you learn much about the traditions, customs and values of the cultures where the language is spoken. Once you know one foreign culture better, you will have a new perspective from which to understand and appreciate many other cultures. In addition, you will also learn a great deal about the structure of your own language and the values of your own culture.
Your potential career opportunities also offer a very practical reason for learning a foreign language, because the knowledge of a foreign language in connection with other University training can set you apart from monolingual job candidates.
Many students have discovered that it is not difficult to combine foreign language learning with other areas of study. For example, you need only two courses in the same language to fulfill the International Studies core requirement, and literature classes in any foreign language satisfy the Humanities Fine Arts core requirements. It is common for students to double major or minor in a foreign language and another field of interest. A minor in German, French or Spanish is only a commitment of 17-18 hours above the 100-level. A significant number of BW students with various majors also study abroad each year.
Placement in Foreign Language Classes
Many students have questions about which course is the most appropriate entry point into the study of a foreign language. To insure success, it is important that students choose the proper level. Choosing a level too high can create frustration, but a level too low can cause you to lose interest quickly. The following guidelines should be of help.
When you are deciding among the entry-level courses, 101, 102 and 201, the factors to consider are: 1) the amount of previous experience with the language; 2) the quality of the previous experience; 3) the amount of time which has elapsed since you last studied the language; and 4) your placement test score.
All students beginning Spanish, French or German at Baldwin Wallace University who have not taken the foreign language placement exam before enrolling will be asked by their language teachers to take the test at the beginning of the first week of classes.
101 is meant for true beginners and is most appropriate for students who have had no previous knowledge of the language. Students with up to 2 years of high school instruction may take this course, if their preparation is not sufficient to take 102 or 201. If other factors such as those listed above make you feel that you need to take 101, despite having had more than two years of previous experience, you should take the placement exam and contact the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures for advice.
102 is most appropriate for students who have previous knowledge of the language such as that equivalent to the catalog course description of 101, but who still need an introduction to the topics listed in the catalog description of 102.
201 is most appropriate for students who have been introduced to and have some understanding of the basic grammar, but who now need to review and refine what they know. Typically, students with 3 or more years of high school instruction and those who have completed the 102 level enroll in 201. This course builds upon the foundation laid in the 101-102 sequence by providing an expansion of the 4 skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening.
During the first week of classes you should speak to your instructor if you feel you are not placed in the most appropriate course. Students who seek initial placement in foreign language courses at the 202 level and above must get special permission from the professor in the Department who is responsible for that language.
Education Majors Planning to Teach in Foreign Languages are required to spend at least one academic semester or a total of 15 weeks abroad studying the language for which they seek licensure. Although we suggest spending the entire time in one extended visit, students may combine visits to reach the total as long as one visit is a minimum of eight weeks long. The program and projected plan of study should be approved by the student’s academic advisor in the Department of Foreign Languages prior to enrolling in the program.