What are the course requirements? How are students evaluated?

Course Requirements

Course requirements are listed on the online syllabus for each course. A general version of each of the requirements is discussed below. The requirements differ somewhat depending upon whether the course is a half course or a full course. There are also variations for courses which focus only on speaking or only on written language (such as Formal Spoken Arabic A or Written Persian I). Consult your syllabus for your course's specific version of the requirements.

IMPORTANT! Read your course requirements carefully! They will not be explained to you at another time. It is your responsibility to read and understand the requirements and to ask for clarification if necessary. You will be responsible for meeting the requirements in order to pass the course. Contact the program staff with any questions.

  1. Successful mastery of the material assigned on the syllabus and its accompanying study guides. Students are reminded that final comprehensive oral evaluations will cover all material assigned for the course regardless of whether more or less time was spent on each topic in conversation sessions and tutorials. The content of the syllabus and the study guides is the guide to what may be covered in the final oral evaluation.
  2. Daily independent study.
    Half courses: at least one hour per day of independent study
    Full courses: at least two hours per day of independent study
    Independent study needs to include practice in all four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. It also needs to include regular review of materials covered in previous weeks. All language study is cumulative.
  3. Weekly individual tutorials.
    Half courses: one 30-minute tutorial per week
    Full courses: one 60-minute or two 30-minute tutorials per week
    Mentors will collect and go over written homework assignments, answer questions brought by students, work on individual issues with pronunciation and grammar, and provide practice drills in preparation for written and oral evaluations.
  4. Weekly conversation sessions.
    Half courses: generally one 60-minute conversation session per week
    Full courses: either one 1.5 hour session per week or two 60-minute sessions per week
    Conversation sessions provide practice in both speaking and listening comprehension. The sessions constitute the primary practice for the oral fluency portion of the final evaluation.
  5. Weekly homework assignments handed in at the tutorial meeting.
    Homework will be collected by the mentors, photocopied and placed in a portfolio for each student. Homework must be handed in on time at the tutorial to receive credit. Mentors may read and comment on late homework, but students will not receive credit toward their final course grade unless the homework is turned in on time. Any exceptions due to illness or other emergencies must be cleared by the program director or associate director.
    Homework grading: Homework is graded on a 100-point scale. For exercises which have answer keys, students are expected to make use of the answer keys to check their own work. Mentors will look for evidence of self-correction when going over homework.
  6. Weekly self-assessment reports submitted on time using the online form.
    Weekly self-assessment reports submitted on time using the online form. Self-assessments are due at the end of each week and are recorded as “on time” as long as they are received by 9:00 am the following Monday morning. Self-assessments must be filed on time in order to get credit. The self-assessments help students to evaluate their own progress in learning the language, their overall development of language learning strategies, and also alert the program staff to any problems with preparation or logistical details of the course.
  7. Writing skills assessment to be completed by the end of the semester.
    Writing skills assessments evaluate a student's ability to express him- or herself in the language being studied. Students will be able to complete the assessment by appointment or during desginated drop-in hours in the final weeks of the semester.
  8. Final comprehensive oral evaluation.
    The final oral evaluation covers conversational fluency, listening and reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and cultural knowledge. The final oral evaluations are given by local faculty-level mentors or by professors of the language from other institutions. Current outside evaluators come from such institutions as Dartmouth, Indiana University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, St. Olaf College, UCLA, University of California, Berkeley, University of Maryland, University of Wisconsin, and Yale.

Format of the Final Oral Evaluation

The format of the final oral varies somewhat depending upon the style of individual evaluators. The evaluations last between 20-30 minutes. Generally, evaluators adopt a conversational mode in order to see what the student is able to do with the language. Other activities may include: question and answer exercises, reading out loud, or having the student ask questions of the evaluator. In general, the oral evaluation covers the material practiced in conversation sessions during the semester, along with attention to the formal grammar and vocabulary covered in tutorial sessions and written work.

Grading Percentages

  • 50% work during the semester
    • 40% written homework
    • 10% attendance, preparation, participation, and self-assessments
  • 50% end-of-the-semester evaluations
    • 40% final comprehensive oral evaluation
    • 10% writing skills assessment
  • Another way of looking at the grading percentages is that 50% of the final course grade is based on written work (homework and the writing skills assessment) and 50% on oral evaluation plus attendance, preparation, participation, and self-assesssments.
  • IMPORTANT: Both the writing skills assessment and the final comprehensive oral evaluation must be passed in order to receive credit for the course.
  • Final grades are submitted by the program director based on final evaluation grades and the student’s overall course participation record and homework portfolio.
  • A student who receives a grade below a B- for the course or who has repeated absences from sessions will not be allowed to enroll in future FCCSWL courses. FCCSWL courses cannot be repeated to replace a failing grade or to improve a grade.