I'm planning to apply for a PhD in English (Literature) and I'm wondering about the foreign language component. All of the schools I'd most like to apply to require 1 or usually 2 foreign languages examined by the end of the second year or so. Yale also mentions on its admission requirements that they want 'preparation in languagessufficient to satisfy the language requirement' and Harvard says that 'While there are no specific prerequisites for admission, a strong language background helps to strengthen the application'. None of the others seem to mention languages at all in their admissions sections, only in the details of what's required during the course.
Does anyone know how important the language background is relative to other elements of the application? My personal situation: I have a UK A-Level in Latin and a GCSE in German. I've been working on my German online (duolingo etc.) but I have no new qualifications to show evidence of progress. I did an informal assessment at the Goethe Insitut in London, and they reckon I could probably handle a B1 exam, which the internet reckons is about equivalent to a UK AS-level, halfway between GCSE and A-Level, but I don't know if it really counts for as much on an application. If I did take the exam, it might show that my German is ongoing and improving, but I have relatively little time to prepare for the exam, it's alarmingly close to the application deadline, so if my results don't come on time it might count for nothing anyway, and I think it might be a better use of time to work on my writing samples/preparing for GREs etc.
Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks a lot.