All students must complete two semesters of the same language at the level appropriate to the student’s ability. Wheaton offers language instruction in Ancient Greek, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish. Students may continue in a language they have already studied or begin work in a new language.

The study of American Sign Language (ASL) is also available to Wheaton students through cross-registration at a SACHEM institution. Students interested in ASL should consult with the Office of the Registrar.

In some cases, AP or IB exam credits can be applied to the foreign language requirement. Learn more about AP and IB credit.

When to Register for a Foreign Language

Introductory and intermediate language courses normally start in the fall semester and continue into the spring semester. Many advanced-level courses are also available in the fall, so most students should plan to begin language study in the fall semester.

If you are planning to continue study of a language that you started in high school, you must take the placement test and enroll in the appropriate level course as early as possible. There are several reasons for this:

  • Continuing your language study now will ensure that your proficiency is at its highest.
  • Completing your language requirement early and continuing its study opens up the possibility of study abroad in a non-English speaking country. Note that many study abroad programs require a minimum level of preparation or fluency.
  • Acquiring foreign language ability early in your college career may provide a valuable research tool in upper-division courses, as well as internship and job opportunities, regardless of your major.

If you have a documented learning disability regarding foreign language study, please refer to Advising for Students with Learning Differences.

Placement in Foreign Language Courses

If you plan to take a language for the first time, you should enroll in the introductory level. Students who have studied a language and who intend to continue study in that language must take the appropriate placement test. Wheaton’s language departments use the placement tests to determine the appropriate course for each student.

The placement tests in French, German, Italian and Spanish are available through onCourse. In order to receive the most timely placement results, please take the appropriate placement by June 1st.  See Instructions for taking online placement tests.

Placement exams in Latin will be available during the Orientation sessions in June and August. The placement exam for Ancient Greek will be available during the Fall Orientation session in August.

For placement in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian, please consult directly with the appropriate instructors.

The results of the tests will help the faculty of the department place you into the proper course. Scores will not affect the status of your admission to Wheaton and will not be recorded on your transcript.

It is imperative that you enroll in the appropriate level of study.  If you have concerns about your selection, advisors in the various languages will be available during the Orientation sessions in June and August.