The department requires that all PhD students possess an advanced level of fluency for reading the literature and scholarship of at least one foreign language.
Each student will take responsibility for setting up his or her own exam. The first step is to consult with a member of the English department who has been designated as an examiner for a particular language. If no one in the department has been so designated for a particular language, candidates should consult with the DGS in order to identify an approved examiner outside the department. Once the texts have been set, the candidate and the examiner should agree upon fifty pages in each of the two texts from which the examiner will choose one-page excerpts for translation at the time of the exam. Finally, on a date settled at the convenience of the candidate and the examiner, the exam will be given in two parts: the student will translate aloud at sight (and without the assistance of a dictionary) a passage of approximately one page from one of the texts, and will produce a written translation of approximately one page from the second.
Texts for the Foreign Language Exam are always selected in consultation with the faculty member who administers the exam. A list of texts chosen in recent years is available at the Robbins Library. This should give you an idea of our expectations. Please consult with your faculty examiner to settle on the texts for your Foreign Language Exam.
Department Faculty Contacts for the Language Exam