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Qualifying for/learning French or german


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I am curious about some of the traditional grad programs which require proficiency in French or German and what the route to proficiency looks like.

This is for secondary research language study, NOT content or topical study (for instance if you were a French culture major then of course you'd learn French.. Which might be different than what I'm talking about).

If you have zero fr or gr, do you take classes? If so, are they like typical language classes, many times a week, combining speaking, reading, listening, writing? Or is it just reading proficiency?

Or Is it independent study?

Or Are you just expected to become proficient on your own?

Does it vary by program?

What are your experiences?

Thanks!!!

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if you want to learn a language related to your research but not integral, it will probably be by taking undergraduate classes in that language. Some places might require you to get some kind of approval for a class that isn't strictly related to your research, but as long as you're not learning a language just for fun, I'm sure it would be covered by your tuition remission. The classes vary somewhat by school, but yes, you should expect class 4 or 5 days a week, focusing on reading, writing, and speaking. I don't think there are many language classes anywhere that focus only on reading proficiency. Your grad program might have classes like that, but I've never heard of it. 

You might try duolingo to learn on your own, or test out of the first semester or two. It's free. I'm using it for German (mostly for fun, but maybe some day I'll take a German class), and I like the system. Once you've completed the course, you could take a language placement test to show that you have some proficiency. 

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One of the schools in question has a special "French for Grad Students" class specifically for this type of student.

In the description it says the focus is on translation, grammar, and reading comprehension, and class is twice a week!

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Many (most?) universities have classes designed specifically for graduate students learning research languages. They're 1-semester classes that teach you the grammar of a language for reading knowledge ... You'd finish the class able to read a text (with a dictionary), but no practice in speaking or understanding the language. That's how I learned German (after that semester, I went back and continued studying myself to fill in the speaking/understanding gaps, but that was for personal satisfaction). (Edit: Whoops, looks like you mentioned these classes while I was typing.) 

 

That said, you can usually also fill the requirement by taking the first four undergraduate semesters of a language or by teaching yourself and passing an exam. 

 

It depends on what your previous experience with language is and what your goals are. If you've previously studied a language, you can likely pick up French (or Italian) pretty quickly. I taught myself Italian in about six months and passed the exam, but my MA program was in French, so I already had a romance language. 

Edited by ChuckCL
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Many (most?) universities have classes designed specifically for graduate students learning research languages. They're 1-semester classes that teach you the grammar of a language for reading knowledge ... You'd finish the class able to read a text (with a dictionary), but no practice in speaking or understanding the language. That's how I learned German (after that semester, I went back and continued studying myself to fill in the speaking/understanding gaps, but that was for personal satisfaction). (Edit: Whoops, looks like you mentioned these classes while I was typing.)

That said, you can usually also fill the requirement by taking the first four undergraduate semesters of a language or by teaching yourself and passing an exam.

It depends on what your previous experience with language is and what your goals are. If you've previously studied a language, you can likely pick up French (or Italian) pretty quickly. I taught myself Italian in about six months and passed the exam, but my MA program was in French, so I already had a romance language.

Very helpful - thanks!

Thanks also for the Duolingo reference... I can already say "the girl is eating an apple" :)

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