April 24, 2018

Dear students in Yale College,

I would like to make you aware of two proposals, approved recently by the Yale College faculty, that encourage foreign language study beyond the minimum requirement.

The first one is to enable language departments to offer a certificate of advanced language study for students who take a collection of advanced courses in a specific foreign language. Departments will have discretion in determining courses or types of courses that would be required for the certificate, but at a minimum at least four advanced-level courses will be required. I expect that some departments will start offering certificates as early as next semester. If you are interested, you can write to the relevant director of undergraduate studies.

The second is to lift the credit-year-only restriction that currently requires two terms of study in modern introductory foreign language courses in order to receive credit for the first term (i.e, the L1 course). Starting next term, then, you will be able to earn full credit immediately after completing an L1 course – before or without completing an L2 or higher level course. This change does not affect the requirements for satisfying the foreign language requirement, but it does give you more flexibility in studying languages without losing credits. Keep in mind that departments generally encourage continuing in a single language beyond a single semester because language acquisition is cumulative. Also keep in mind that you should talk to your dean if you faced difficulties in an L1 course before you start studying a new language.

These changes are meant to encourage you to explore the curriculum and earn credit for all of your course work. I hope that you will be able to make good use of them as you plan your future courses.


Marvin M. Chun
Dean of Yale College
Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology; Neuroscience; Cognitive Science