February 1994 Supersedes all previous printings
Foreign Language (FOL) (Foundation Studies)
Foreign Language: This requirement aims to develop language skills, extend understanding of language as a human phenomenon, and generate insights into a culture other than one's own. Students must demonstrate intermediate-level language proficiency by:
A. Completion of a fourth semester course (or beyond) in French, German, or Spanish;
B. Completion of a third semester course (or beyond) in Chinese, Greek, Japanese,
Latin, Norwegian or Russian;
C. Proficiency examination; or
D. Transfer of credit.
- Courses develop effective and appropriate communication skills in a language other than one's native language.
- Courses include the study of authentic texts, which are texts produced by or for native speakers.
- Courses develop a general awareness of language as a socio-cultural phenomenon and of the subtleties and complexities of language.
- Courses present information about the cultures of those who use the language.
Comments: (Numbers correlate to numbered guidelines)
l. Courses in foreign language generally emphasize a four-skills approach (speaking, listening, reading, writing), where appropriate, in order to achieve proficiency in the language.
In l986, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages adopted guidelines which identify progressive stages of language proficiency in the areas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Since the ACTFL guidelines are not based on a particular linguistic theory or pedagogical method, they are a useful tool in the assessment of what the foreign language learner can and cannot do with the language. Although the original ACTFL guidelines applied primarily to the more commonly taught languages (French, German, Spanish), they have recently been adapted to encompass the less commonly taught ones as well.
In the case of Latin and Greek, emphasis is appropriately placed on reading comprehension (the study and interpretation of written texts).
While the departmental statements prepared by each foreign language department at St. Olaf clarify particular goals for the beginning and intermediate language sequence, the GEC guidelines concern primarily the required semester of language.
The GEC encourages interested faculty to consider offering a course in a foreign language which would satisfy the guidelines for the general education requirement.
2. Students are most likely to use the foreign language naturally if they encounter a variety of texts (oral, written, visual) produced by or for native speakers. Topics chosen should reflect significant aspects of the culture under study, especially those related to the question of cultural identity.
3. An important benefit of foreign language study is the potential for an increased awareness and understanding of one's native language.
4. The GEC recommends providing opportunities for students to continue their language study and use beyond the language requirement through participation in the Languages Across the Curriculum program and the International Studies Program.