English
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Foreign Language Exam FAQs

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We receive questions daily about the foreign language proficiency requirement.  Students like yourself often lose track of this requirement due to busy class, professional, and family schedules.  Please don't forget about this requirement.  It is important.  Listed below are several commonly asked questions.

1.  I didn't know about a language requirement.  Where is this requirement listed or discussed?  The foreign language requirement is listed on the advising sheet for each MA in English program of study in the University catalog and on this website.  Reminders about the foreign language requirement are sent out to students on the graduate student listserv.  It is dicussed at fall semester orientation and it is listed in the advisor handbook used by your faculty advisor. 

2.  Is this an admissions requirement?  No.  It is a program requirement.  It does not need to have been completed prior to admission to the program, but it must be completed prior to graduation from the program.

3.  One of the options for completing this requirement states that students can take classes at Mason through the 210 level.  I tried to register and I am blocked.  Why?  Mason's language courses are undergraduate courses.  Graduate students need permission to take undergraduate courses by asking the instructor to sign a Graduate Student Request for Undergraduate Course Registration form, which is then processed by the Office of the Registrar.

4.  What is the difference between the translation exam offered by the English department and the placement exam offered in the Modern and Classical Languages department?  The translation exam offered by the English department requires the translation of a passage in Spanish, French, German, or Russian into English.  The translation exam is only available to students opting to test in Spanish, French, German, or Russian.  The exam requires students to use at least a second semester intermediate level understanding of a language to create an English translation of a passage that demonstrates a command of the meaning within the passage and its context rather than a simple word-for-word translation.  Placement exams are more closely tied to spoken language and instruction given in a language classroom.  Placement exams are used to move entering students into the correct level of language study.  Students must be placed beyond Mason's 210 level to meet the foreign language requirement.

5.  How many times can I take the translation exam?  Two times. After taking and receiving a "no pass" on the translation exam twice, students are asked to take classes to meet the requirement.

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