Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 02:01
Any student grinding through an intensive language program could tell you that four semesters of six-credit courses are not easy. Yet those years of daily 75-minute classes and the accompanying nightly homework pay different dividends for students in different schools.
Students in the School of Foreign Service spend semesters in intensive language courses working toward the goal of passing a proficiency exam, while those in the College, School of Nursing and Health Studies or McDonough School of Business often take the same classes to complete a minor. SFS students who complete the requirements for a minor in a foreign language deserve the opportunity to graduate with that same accomplishment noted on their diploma and transcript.
Given its structured interdisciplinary approach to international studies, the SFS has reasonably developed its own approach to foreign language: Pass a proficiency test in a foreign language to graduate. And while many SFS students come to Georgetown with multiple languages already under their belt, many others must face the time-intensive challenge of acquiring proficiency in a foreign language during their years as an undergraduate.
For these students who are obligated to dedicate a substantial portion of their valuable Georgetown credits — not to mention vast amounts of time and energy — to language study, transcripts disproportionately lack recognition of these efforts. To potential employers, a language minor likely carries more weight than a notation of proficiency or a certificate whose meaning may be unfamiliar to some.
In practice, students who earn proficiency and those who graduate with minors likely possess similar linguistic abilities. While a difference in notation may seem superficial, applying the same label to both achievements would level the playing field in the job hunt, where “minor” is often a more familiar, and therefore viable, term to employers than “proficiency” or “certificate.”
For SFS students toiling night after night memorizing Chinese characters, perfecting Arabic pronunciation and decoding Greek grammar, this just and adequate recognition would be both fitting and rewarding.