Language Requirement MA & PhD

All students must demonstrate professional competency in one language other than English. The choice of language is to be approved by the Graduate Chair, having regard to the student's field of research. Where appropriate, and with departmental approval, a student may show demonstrated competence in computer programming in lieu of the language requirement. 

Students with a strong language background can meet this requirement by providing evidence for their competency (e.g., native competence in a language, two full years’ university-level coursework in one language, etc.) at their intake meeting in August. Those who do not have a strong language background may satisfy this requirement by sitting for a reading comprehension exam. Students need not speak the language or understand it aurally, nor are the specific skills of a professional translator required. Instead, students must demonstrate an ability to fruitfully read and understand academic writing in the target language. The exam consists of a text of authentic material (usually 3 or 4 pages from a contemporary linguistics source), and a series of tasks, which may include: 

  • answering comprehension questions 

  • making a short summary of a section of the text 

  • identifying the relevant data presented by the authors to prove a particular claim 

  • explaining the significance of specific data presented in the article 

  • translating a sentence or very short paragraph 

  • identifying the logical connection between two statements contained in the text 

All the tasks are presented and completed in English, not in the target language. Students are permitted to use a dictionary during the exam. The exam is typically 2 hours in duration, and the result is reported as Credit or No Credit.