Foreign language placement and placement appeals at Wake Forest

During or before orientation at Wake Forest University, you take a foreign language placement exam and are informed of your course level on the basis of your score. For the most commonly studied languages, those placement exams are electronic (online), accessed by computer with a logon you receive. Students who enter with a relatively high AP (advanced placement) test score in a foreign language must still log on to our placement exam to fill out personal information, but then exit when they already know their placement, not needing to complete the whole exam. If you did not take such a placement exam for your language or enter with sufficient AP credit for placement, contact the dean's office for special authorization to log on.

You should take the placement exam for each language you have studied, because students who think they no longer care to continue a given language often change their minds later. (But do not attempt a test for a language you have never studied, because knowledge of a related language, e.g., of Spanish in the case of Italian, can produce a false reading of your actual ability.) Note that the placement tests are only for placement, not for awarding credit for courses below one's placement level, so it should be clear that any attempt to boost one's score dishonestly is not only a violation of the Honor Code, but will probably result in placement into a course that is over one's head.

If you continue your study of that foreign language here at Wake Forest, it must be at that indicated level, or higher. The reason is that it's unfair (and really intimidating) to real beginners in a language to find more fluent "false beginners" in their midst. And in the end, those "false beginners" commonly fare worse because they expected to breeze through the course without working at it and would have done better in a course that challenged them at their real level.

However, we recognize that sometimes the placement test may fail to bring out certain weaknessees or deficiencies, and the student may need an adjustment in placement level. In that case, the student may appeal his/her placement to a departmental representative (placement appeals officer). If you decide to appeal, you still must go to the assigned class for the first couple of sessions (as indicated in the WFU Bulletin) to see how it "feels," to discuss any reservations with your instructor, and to identify specific problems. Then, if you still think you should change to a lower level after trying the indicated one, make an appointment with the placement appeals person. In the department of Romance Languages, they're Dr. Stéphanie Pellet for French, Dr. Roberta Morosini for Italian, and Dr. Stan Whitley for Spanish. He/she will interview you to determine whether there is a major deficiency that justifies reassignment to a lower level. If so, then he/she will notify the registrar, dean, and department in writing, and you may then "add/drop" to the other course. Without that written approval, a unilateral switch to a lower course will result in zero credit for it.

Note that it is to your advantage to continue with a language you have started, and in the course you're placed in if you're capable of it. Going down to a lower level will extend the time needed to fulfill the WFU Basic Requirement in foreign language literature. On the other hand, no special appeal is needed in order to try a higher level that you believe you're capable of, as long as no special conditions (such as prerequisites or P.O.I.) are indicated in the Bulletin or Course Schedule. However, the Registrar may still ask you to get permission from the placement appeals person in order to change records of your starting level.

A last suggestion: don't put off taking your foreign language! You'll still have to continue at the level you were placed at, and during those semesters without contact with the language, you'll only have gotten rusty.

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