Dartmouth Adds Language Requirement

The Rassias Method was born at Dartmouth College.

If there are two colleges in America that set the bar with respect to how students learn foreign languages, it’s two schools right in the heart of New England: Middlebury College and Dartmouth College. Middlebury is, of course, renowned for its Language Schools. And Dartmouth is, of course, renowned for its Dartmouth Intensive Language Model a.k.a. The Rassias Method. It’s a method that was originally developed to train Peace Corps volunteers. But in spite of Dartmouth’s unique approach to teaching the early levels of foreign language, which involves students sitting in a circle, often in the early morning hours, Dartmouth students — prior to now — were never before required to take a foreign language class while enrolled. Instead, students could place out of the foreign language requirement based on their prior fluency in a language or based on their score from an AP exam. Yet that was then. This is now.

As Emily Fagell reports for The Dartmouth in a piece entitled “New language requirements enacted starting with Class of 2026,” “Beginning with the Class of 2026, all undergraduate students will be required to take at least one course offered by Dartmouth to fulfill the language requirement, according to an email sent to first-year students prior to matriculation. Previously, students were able to receive an exemption from the language requirement by demonstrating their fluency in a foreign language through a placement test or credit…According to the email sent to the Class of 2026, students can fulfill the requirement in various ways, depending on their prior experience with a language. Students with little or no foreign language proficiency must take courses through the “03 level,” while more advanced students — those who have completed curriculums through the 03 level — can take a more advanced course within that language or study a new language through the 02 level.”

We applaud Dartmouth, a school that requires its graduates to also pass a 50-yard swim test, for now requiring students to take a foreign language at the College on the Hill, irrespective of their prior fluency or high school coursework. Just as being able to swim matters, so too does being able to speak, understand, and appreciate a foreign language — even at a beginner’s level. 

 
 

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