Overview of Foreign Languages at Reed College
A student coming out of high school with AP credit cannot use it for actual advanced placement in courses. However, during orientation week at the beginning of the year, one may take a placement test for either second year or beyond. A 5 on the AP test roughly correlates to entry into second year.
All languages at Reed College have a 1-2-3 attack on language learning: the first year emphasizes grammar and vocabulary, while the second year emphasizes literature, with the third year developing diction and good writing skills. In addition to formal classwork, there are also weekly “conversation groups", where one studies culture with a “language scholar", a native speaker of college age. All courses are taught entirely in the particular language, resulting in complete immersion.
No matter the major at Reed, at the end of the junior year, majors must “qual", short for taking a qualification exam in their field of choice. This is typically what goes for a major declaration. If they pass, they are cleared for a special requirement for graduation—the writing of a “senior thesis", a year-long project that is typically described along the lines of a “soul-devouring monstrosity".Think a PhD thesis in not-so-miniature. For majors in a foreign language, this typically means an in-depth analysis of one or more literary works, though interdisciplinary majors are also accepted.
After this point, there are a myriad of literature and culture courses in which one can participate, from a semester-long intensive study of Don Quixote to a class on City, Space and Memory in modern German literature.
In addition, there are also “language houses" on campus. Any student may apply to live in a language house, regardless of whether they are majoring in that language or even whether they've ever even had previous experience in the language. One or more language scholars are housed within to organize activities. These houses host weekly movie nights and dinner tables, in addition to larger campus celebrations for relevant holidays.
Another valuable resource for foreign languages at Reed is the “language lab", a room in the library with computers set up with top-notch translating software and more. All courses 200-level and below offer free tutoring.
For non-foreign language majors, every student at Reed must fulfill a divisional requirement which, though varying by major, usually requires at least one year of a foreign language, often more.
Many courses have equivalents in translation for non-majors who cannot or do not wish to learn the language, in history, literature and humanities. (These same courses are recommended for majors as well.)