Language Requirement

If your college (Liberal Arts, Business, Journalism, Science, etc.) or degree (normally a B.A.) requires a foreign language requirement, you are required to demonstrate competence in a second language.

Successful completion of the foreign language requirement may be accomplished through one of four options:

  1. Complete a fourth semester (212) college course in a foreign language or in American Sign Language
  2. Demonstrate proficiency through examination or other means determined by the Department of World Languages and Literatures, including minimum CBAPE, SAT II, or IB scores
  3. Show transcript evidence of successful completion of four years of high school coursework in the same foreign language
  4. Participate in a Studies Abroad program pre-approved by the college to meet the foreign language requirement.

Languages regularly taught at the University of Nevada, Reno are Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Paiute and Spanish.

Placement exam information

If you are continuing in the study of French or Spanish from high school, you are required to complete the survey and placement exam in order to be placed in the appropriate level.

Take the French placement exam online

Take the Spanish placement exam online

For all other languages, please work with a World Language undergraduate advisor on placement into the basic language program (111, 112, 211, or 212).

Native and near-native students

For students who have native or near-native proficiency in any language other than English and need to fulfill a college foreign language requirement and would like to use that language to fulfill it, should contact the department chair.  You will be able to fulfill the requirement through a language waiver. Note, the waiver does not grant credits. And credit by exam is not offered for basic language courses.

Two options for receiving the language waiver:

  1. Send unofficial scanned high school transcripts showing that you studied in the country that the language is spoken.
  2. Complete a proctored proficiency exam. It consists of a 30-minute speaking test and a 20-80 minute writing test, taken online, with the following accredited site: Language Testing International through ACTFL (American Council for Teaching of Foreign Languages). The cost for this exam is $259.
    1. Click on 'Schedule a test'
    2. Then click on 'Testing for a school'
    3. Register and take the exam

You will need a fourth-semester level of speaking skills in that language (Novice High) to receive your foreign language requirement waiver. Please refer to the ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

Language requirement FAQs

  • What should I consider?

    We encourage you to fulfill the requirement early. If you are continuing a language from high school, the sooner you start, the better. If you start a new language, you will need four semesters to fulfill the requirement. Planning ahead is essential.

  • Why are there two exams? What is the difference between the two?

    The placement exam is a shorter exam (40 minutes) that you can take anytime, anywhere. It provides an initial indication of your language ability in order to place you into the appropriate level.

    The proficiency exam is a longer (one-to-two hours), in-depth proctored exam that is offered on scheduled dates. It provides a complete measurement of your language ability.

    The language requirement is a competency requirement. You can show you are competent at the level established by the requirement (212) by either taking and passing a course at or above that level or taking a proficiency exam that allows you to demonstrate competence at that level. The placement exam does not demonstrate competence at a particular level. The proficiency exam does.

  • What if I studied more than one language in high school?

    You can choose to start a new language at the University of Nevada, Reno or continue one of the languages studied in high school. When continuing with a language previously studied, only one placement exam is required.

  • What if I didn’t do very well in high school classes? Can I begin at the 111 level for review?

    Elementary courses (numbered 111) are for beginners, who are students with no prior experience in that language. You are not required to continue in the same language you studied in high school. In this situation, you might consider taking a new language. If you want to continue with the same language, you will take the placement exam and begin in the course indicated, depending on the placement results.

  • What is on the placement exam? Can I prepare?

    The exam includes reading and vocabulary. It is not necessary to prepare for the session. Immediately prior to testing, you might consider spending 15 – 20 minutes reading in the language as this will probably help with basic recall.

  • What if I speak a language other than English at home?

    If you graduated from high school in the U.S.

    You will be required to demonstrate competence in a language other than English through a proficiency exam or the completion of a class at the 212 level or above.

    Please consult with the chair of the Department of World Languages and Literatures for additional information.

    International students

    If your high school education was in a language other than English, we will prepare a language waiver for you for your native language. Please contact the department chair.

    Please note that we do not offer credit by exam for 111-212 basic language courses.

  • What if I am proficient in a language not offered at this University (e.g. Korean, Polish, Tagalog, Urdu, etc.)?

    If a proficiency exam is available in your language, you’ll take the proficiency exam. If a proficiency exam is not available, please consult with the chair of the Department of World Languages and Literatures for additional information.

  • Whom do I contact with questions?

    Please contact the chair of the Department of World Languages and Literatures.