Format for Oral and Written Exams
Required to Satisfy Proficiency in a Foreign Language for MAIR, MBA/IM, MAIE, and MIJ Students
The oral examination will be administered by a committee composed of at least two members from the division of Modern Foreign Languages who teach the language being examined as well as by one other professor from another division of MFL. Prof. Ann McGlashan will be the chair for examinations in German, Prof. Michael Long for those in Russian, Prof. Richard Durán for those in French, and Prof. Marian Ortuño for those in Spanish. If there is only one MFL professor who teaches a particular language, then that individual will serve as chair.
The oral exam consists of 9 sections and lasts 30 minutes, more or less. The committee members will ask questions to elicit responses which demonstrate proficiency in several communicative functions. Questions fall into 3 categories and will deal with: 1) general knowledge and personal experience, 2) current events, and 3) the candidate's specific area of interest and preparation. The committee will evaluate the candidate's ability to form complete sentences which demonstrate fluency and accuracy in comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary.
- Personal History: The exam will begin with the candidate's introductory remarks about self, family, studies, and career.
- Description: The candidate provides a description, with some detail, of a person, place, or event.
- Narration in the Present: The candidate must be able to sustain narration of a situation or event using correct verb conjugations in the present tenses.
- Narration in the Past: The candidate must be able to sustain narration of a situation or event using correct verb conjugations in the past tenses.
- Narration in the Future: The candidate must demonstrate the ability to sustain narration of a situation or event using correct verb conjugations in the future tenses.
- Explanation: The candidate must be able to explain the reasons for the existence of a particular situation or set of circumstances. Questions will usually begin with "Why?" or perhaps, "Explain the difference(s) between...."
- Opinion: The candidate must express and sustain (i.e., give reasons for) a personal judgment or point of view relating to a situation, set of circumstances, or event.
- Supposition: The candidate will be asked to hypothesize about a situation or event. An if-contrary-to-fact question will usually cue this function, e.g., "If you (or someone else) were..., then what would happen?"
- Situation: The candidate will be given a card describing a problematic situation. The student then reads the card (in English ) to the members of the committee. In this exercise, the candidate demonstrates ability to pool linguistic resources in order to extricate himself or herself from the difficulties inherent in the situation. The committee members will listen to the performance and evaluate the candidate's ability to create sentences and to initiate dialog with accuracy.
Bear in mind that to perform the above functions successfully, the candidate must have the necessary vocabulary and correct grammatical structures to discuss personal history, current events, and issues related to the fields of international relations, economics, journalism, and management.
During the examination, the student must speak in complete sentences and refrain from asking the tester to supply unknown words or expressions.
The student will read two journal articles, a total of about 250 words (excluding articles, prepositions, and conjunctions). The candidate then writes a paragraph-by-paragraph translation in correct English. A paper dictionary may be used. Time limit is one hour.
The oral and written parts of the proficiency exam are separate and are graded independently of each other. It is therefore possible to pass one part of the test and not the other. In that event, arrangements can be made to retake the portion that was failed. There is a limit of one retake, and the student--rather than the graduate program or department--will then pay the re-testing fee. A candidate must pass both parts of the exam for proficiency certification.
Once again, please make arrangements for taking the diagnostic and proficiency exams well in advance (i.e., at least two semesters before anticipated date of graduation for the diagnostic exam). Take special care in scheduling summer exams because many professors in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages are often involved in summer programs abroad while others have summer sabbaticals. Some professors, including directors of testing, do not have teaching duties during the summer months and may not be on campus.
Be sure to read the online document entitled "Foreign Language Requirements for the Degrees of Master of Business Administration/International Management (MBA/IM), Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR), Master of Arts in International Economics (MAIE), and Master of International Journalism (MIJ)", and please adhere to the dates specified on the Examination Calendar.