Languages and cultures

Language is at the heart of the human experience. In the Department of Languages and Cultures (DLC), you will learn to appreciate how language constructs and connects our world. You’ll develop a deeper awareness of self and of the value of difference, so you may engage meaningfully in multilinguistic communities.

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Find your program

In whichever department or program you decide to major or minor, you will find faculty ready to help you make the most of your studies. Off‐campus programs hosted around the world, internships and other study opportunities, make the Department of Languages and Cultures an excellent base for exploration and growth.

Off-campus programs

The Department of Languages and Cultures is responsible for a number of off-campus programs, both short and longer‐term, that are designed to improve your language and cultural knowledge while at the same time keeping you on track for your major(s). Some programs are led by faculty, and all programs allow you to develop your independence and familiarity with the host culture.

Students in an off-campus program gathered for photo

Language requirements

The language requirement (POD-L) mandates that all students fulfill the first year of a language other than English if their native language is English. If your native language is something other than English, you may fulfill the POD-L with English.

POD-L process

The Department of Languages and Cultures provides self-assessments (questionnaires that you can fill out on your own in the summer) in all languages to guide you in registering for an appropriate language course in the summer before the DLC language placements take place during New Student Orientation (NSO). 

Completing the online summer self-assessment does not fulfill the POD-L even if you are proficient at the 200 level or above. Rather, the DLC must verify self-assessments to validate the fulfillment of the POD-L with a proficiency evaluation. You will have the opportunity to verify your self-assessment during NSO.

If you do not complete the summer self-assessment, you should participate in the language placement during NSO. You will complete a paper copy of the summer self-assessment, plus either an oral or written component (depending on the language) that allows us to determine the appropriate class for you. Results of the process are emailed to you, the Office of the Registrar and your adviser. If you do not receive an email from a DLC faculty member, it means you have not participated in the NSO language placement. If you missed the language placement assessment, it is your responsibility to contact the Department of Languages and Cultures to schedule a make-up assessment, preferably before classes begin.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

POD-L is the college general education requirement of “Perspectives on Diversity: Language.” It can be fulfilled in several ways:

  1. Completing a year of a language class at Earlham (101 & 102 in any language offered).
  2. Taking a validation assessment or a validation course (see below for further details) if you have placed into a 201 class or above.
  3. Demonstrating the equivalent level of competency in a language not taught at Earlham.
  4. If English is not your first language, then English will fulfill this requirement.

No. You need to take either a validation assessment with a Spanish (Japanese, Latin, etc.) professor or you need to take either Spanish 102 (Japanese 102, Latin 102, etc.) or Spanish 201 (Japanese 201, Latin 201, etc.) as a validation class. You cannot fulfill the language requirement by self-placement.

Many students know most but not all of the material covered in the second semester of introductory language study at Earlham. A validation class is an opportunity to obtain and demonstrate mastery of that necessary material. If you know a significant portion of the material covered in 102, your professor will likely suggest taking 201 as a validation course so as to avoid repeating material for much of the semester in 102. However, you may still choose to take 102 as your validation course.

This is a formalized assessment of your language skills – usually taken during New Student Orientation – to determine whether you are proficient enough to satisfy the language requirement at Earlham without formal coursework. The format varies from language to language but typically involves spoken and written components.

The language professor will send an email indicating your successful completion of the assessment (and thereby the language requirement) to you, your adviser and the Office of the Registrar.

If you are an international student, your use of English fulfils the POD-L requirement. If you are registered as a domestic student or are a dual citizen, you must talk to the languages department about language assessment.

Yes. You must talk to a language professor when you arrive on campus in order to demonstrate your level of competency in your other language, or you may pay for an outside assessment (e.g. through the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages — ACTFL) and bring the results to the Department of Languages and Cultures.

Yes. You would take that other language through other means, perhaps another institution, perhaps in summer school.  To verify that your proficiency level fulfills the POD-L  you would either find someone on the Earlham faculty who also speaks that language and can verify that you have an intermediate level of proficiency, or you may pay for an outside assessment (e.g. through the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages — ACTFL) and bring the results to the Languages and Cultures Department.

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