The Language Requirement In Spanish, Portuguese, And Catalan

The Language Requirement is part of Columbia’s mission to prepare students to be informed and culturally sensitive citizens.

Knowledge of another language and culture is the best way to understand the contingent and constructed nature of one’s own culture, and therefore to appreciate both its achievements and its shortcomings. Turning another culture into an object of knowledge trains us to achieve the same critical distance from our own, which in turn creates the conditions for our leading an examined life within our own social milieu.

The study of a language is not merely the acquisition of a set of grammatical skills, but an opening into another way of organizing the world. The two years of language study that are required by Columbia University represent the minimum proficiency required to achieve this goal. All students are encouraged to consider deepening their study and practice of a foreign language beyond this minimum.

For students with no knowledge of Catalan at least four terms of the language are required: UN1101 – UN1102 (or UN1120) and UN2101 – UN2102 (or UN2120). All courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the Language Requirement.

There is no placement examination for Catalan. Students with prior knowledge of Catalan (secondary school, living abroad, near-native or native speakers) should register in the course that they believe is their appropriate level and speak to the professor of the class about placement.

For students with no knowledge of Portuguese, at least three terms of the language are required: UN1101-UN1102 (or UN1320 for Spanish speakers) and UN2101-UN2102 (or UN2120). All courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the Language Requirement.

Students with prior knowledge of Portuguese (formal courses taken at other schools, living abroad, near-native or native speakers) who plan to continue studying Portuguese are required to take a Placement Examination before registering for a course.

Exemption from the Language Requirement in Portuguese

The Language Requirement may be fulfilled in Portuguese by:

For students with no knowledge of Spanish at least four semesters of the language are required: UN1101 – UN1102 (or UN1120) and UN2101 – UN2102 (or UN2120). All courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the Language Requirement. 

All students new to the Spanish Language Program at Columbia are required to take the Department’s Placement Examination before registering for a course or provide proof of exemption. All Columbia students must take Spanish language courses (1101-3300) for a letter grade.

Exemption from the Language Requirement in Spanish

You may be able to obtain an exemption from the Language Requirement in Spanish in ONE of six ways:

  1. By obtaining a score of 625 or higher in the Department’s online Placement Examination. Your exemption in this case will be verified by taking another version of the Placement Exam in person:
  • For the Fall semester: the exam will be offered on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 by Columbia Zoom. Please click here to register for the exam.
     
  • For the Spring semester: You may take the exam at Casa Hispánica’s Main Office from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. Please contact Kosmas Pissakos (kp124@columbia.edu) for any questions regarding the administration of the exam at Casa Hispánica.
  1. OR by presenting a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Spanish Language or Spanish Literature exams. In this case, you may register for the 3300 courses.
  • If you received a score of 5 in either exam you will be awarded three advanced placement credits upon successful completion of a 3300-level (or above) course in Spanish with a grade of B or higher. There is no Advanced Placement credit granted for a score of 4.
  1. OR by presenting a score of 780 or above on the SAT Subject Test. Students with a score lower than 780 should take the department’s online Placement Examination and follow the placement advice received.
     
  2. OR by presenting a score of a 7, 6, or 5 on the International Baccalaureate Higher Level exam in Spanish.
     
  3. OR by presenting the certification of the D.E.L.E Examination (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera) for either the Intermedio or the Superior levels.
     
  4. OR by presenting the certification of the CELU Examination (Certificado de Español: Lengua y Uso) for either the Intermedio or the Avanzado levels.

Study Abroad And The Spanish Language Requirement

  1. In order to confirm that you have fulfilled the Spanish language requirement, you must take the placement exam in person upon returning to Columbia from a study abroad program. Please make an appointment to take the test with Kosmas Pissakos (kp124@columbia.edu) in the Department.
     
  2. Credits will be generally awarded by the College only for courses that have contact hours and workload scales equivalent to Columbia University courses (semester and summer sessions). You must provide the following materials to the Director of the Spanish Language Program, Lee B Abraham (lba2133@columbia.edu):
  • a course syllabus
  • a list of assigned readings and texts used
  • corrected and graded tests, papers, and any other materials used to evaluate the student’s work
  1. If you wish to continue taking courses in our Department, you should register for the course above the level for which you received credit. For example, if you received credit for Spanish 2102, you should register for Spanish 3300.
     
  2. For transfer of credits for Spanish 3300-level courses contact Francisco Rosales-Varo: fr2209@columbia.edu, Director of Advanced Language through Content.
     
  3. For transfer of credits for courses beyond the 3300 level please refer to this page and contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS).

Advanced Placement Credit

An Advanced Placement (AP) score of 4 or 5 on the Spanish language or literature exam satisfies Columbia’s foreign language requirement. In addition, the department will award 3 points of Advanced Placement credit to students with an AP score of 5 upon completion of a course in Spanish numbered UN 3300 or higher with a minimum grade of B. (No credit is awarded for an AP score of 4.)

Students with Advanced Placement credit who wish to pursue a course of study in Spanish should take Spanish UN 3300, “Advanced Language through Content.” This is also the first course that counts toward a major or concentration in Hispanic Studies.

For more information, contact Professor Seth Kimmel, Director of Undergraduate Studies (srk29@columbia.edu).