Not sure what level of a language course you should take?

The following guidelines are intended to help incoming students determine which level to take when registering for language courses for the first time at Lafayette College. Although language level and subsequent course placement will be determined by the Department of Languages & Literary Studies, adherence to these guidelines increases the likelihood that students will select the appropriate course level now and avoid having to adjust their class schedules later:

  • True beginners (that is, students with NO prior experience in the target language) should register for the year-long, two-semester course sequence: Elementary 101 (normally offered in the fall) and Elementary 102 (normally offered in the spring).
  • Continuing students in Chinese(Mandarin), French, German, or Spanish should submit a subject test score (i.e., AP, SAT II, IB-HL) to the Registrar. For those who haven’t taken a subject test (or for those still waiting for their test results), the department offers WebCAPE, a brief online subject test. In 20 minutes or less, students normally receive an automated response with an assessment of their level (in reading, grammar and vocabulary) and the name of the corresponding course offered at Lafayette. For instructions on how to take the online subject test, please visit:
  • Continuing students in Arabic, Greek (classical), Hebrew (modern), Japanese, Latin, or Russian should consult an instructor of the desired language for advice. For the current list of language faculty, please visit:

 Heritage speakers (that is, those with a personal or historical connection to a language but limited formal study) who wish to take courses in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hebrew (modern), Japanese, Russian, or Spanish should consult a language adviser. Heritage speakers of Spanish may take Spanish 215 (when available) to demonstrate advanced-level proficiency.

What are language course sequences?

Language courses are normally offered in sequence: Elementary 1 (101), Elementary 2 (102) or Accelerated Elementary (103), Intermediate 1 (111), Intermediate 2 (112), and Advanced (211). Advanced 211 is normally required to start taking 300-level courses designed for majors and minors, or to apply for a language-immersion program off campus.

  • Continuing students in Arabic, Greek (classical), Hebrew (modern), Japanese, Latin, or Russian should consult an instructor of the desired language for advice. For the current list of language faculty, please visit:
  • Elementary (101–102) and Intermediate (111–112) courses are normally a two-semester sequence of two courses spread over the academic year. In most languages offered at Lafayette, it is recommended that students complete the first part of the sequence (for example, Elementary 101) before enrolling in the second part (for example, Elementary 102). Exceptions are made based on the student’s past language experience, placement exam scores or assessment by qualified members of the language faculty.
  • In addition to Elementary 101–102, French and Spanish also offer Accelerated Elementary 103, which is a one-semester course for beginners who don’t need to start at the very beginning. Despite the numbering used in the Course Catalog (101, 102, 103), Elementary 103 is equivalent in level to Elementary 102, which is the second part of the two-semester elementary course sequence reserved for true beginners.

Is it possible to receive an exemption (and not take additional courses) in order to fulfill the College’s general education requirement in a second language?

Lafayette College provides several options for students who wish to seek exemption from general education requirements in the Common Course of Study. As regards the proficiency requirement in a second language, standardized subject testing is the primary way to demonstrate equivalency.

  • Achievement testing: The Registrar’s office accepts College Board test scores to exempt students from Lafayette’s elementary-level proficiency requirement. For languages other than English, students need a score of 3 or above on the appropriate AP exam or 500 or above on the appropriate SAT II subject test in order to receive exemption. In certain cases, the Registrar’s office awards course credit for high achievement on AP or IB-HL exams; however, this course-credit policy does not extend to SAT II subject tests. Furthermore, the Registrar’s office does NOT award requirement exemption or course credit for other forms of subject testing such as WebCAPE/Emmersion software, which the language department uses as an online tool to assist students with course registration.
  • Transferring course credit: Students are welcome to apply to transfer course credit for language courses from an approved college or university. The Registrar will grant exemption from the corresponding general education requirement if course credit is awarded. Grades, however, only transfer if students are on a program affiliated with Lafayette’s Office of International and Off-Campus Education.
  • Non-native speakers of English: For students whose second language is English (e.g., some international students), a passing score on TOEFL is sufficient to obtain exemption from the College’s elementary-level proficiency requirement.
  • Heritage speakers: Heritage speakers of a language that is not tested by the College Board should make an appointment with the department head of  Languages & Literary Studies for information about how to seek exemption from the College’s elementary-level requirement in that language. Please note that students need to demonstrate elementary-level reading proficiency in the target language in order to receive exemption.

Which language programs offer majors and minors?

Language: Chinese French German Greek Hebrew
Language: Japanese Latin Russian Spanish