Second Language Competency

Definition of Second Language Competency:

Second Language Competency allows students to utilize communication skills and (inter)cultural awareness for effective participation in local, regional, and international contexts. Learning a second language has been proven to have a lifelong impact on developing learning skills, abstract thinking, cognitive and neural flexibility. It sharpens skills in one’s first language and develops the critical thinking and understanding needed to navigate multicultural, multilingual societies in the US and elsewhere. Thus, learning a second language positively influences professional opportunities after graduation.

The second language competency requirement can be completed by taking classes in the wide variety of languages currently offered at the University of Connecticut’s Departments of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages and Linguistics, including American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, Italian, French, German, Greek (Modern and Ancient), Irish, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Portuguese, or Spanish. Students are strongly encouraged to take two consecutive semesters of the language in order to closely follow the developmental process of language learning.

Second Language Competency Learning Goals:

After successfully completing the exit requirements (see below), students will be able to:

  • Respond to simple, direct questions or requests for information; ask formulaic questions, and negotiate meaning by relying heavily on learned phrases in the second language, as befitting a novice high level of competency according to the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language (ACTFL);
  • Show sensitivity toward and awareness of cultural differences;
  • Show awareness of similarities between the first and second languages;
  • Use the language to make connections and comparisons with other languages and cultures, past and present; and
  • Use the language to broaden and deepen perspectives on major courses of study, career goals, and world events.

These goals are based on ACTFL’s World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages, which establish proficiency levels on a scale from novice to superior, with specific measures of what individuals can do at each level. The ACTFL guidelines are continually revised, and our learning objectives follow these guidelines.

Entry Expectations:

The admission requirement for second language skills is two years of study in a second language in high school or the equivalent. Students are strongly encouraged, however, to take three or more years of the same second language by the time they complete high school.

Exit Requirements:

Students meet the minimum requirement if admitted to the University having passed the third-year level of a single second language in high school, or the equivalent. When the years of study have been split between high school and earlier grades, the requirement is met if students have successfully completed the third-year high school-level course. With anything less than that, students must pass the second course in the first-year sequence of college level study.