Because students arrive at Yale with varied experience in foreign language, language programs administer placement exams to determine each student's proficiency level. Most language programs administer these exams during the opening days of the fall semester, and some also offer placement tests at the beginning of the spring semester. In some smaller language programs, instructors might not hold scheduled placement exams, using some other means such as a brief oral interview with each student.
There are five possible scores on a placement exam: L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5. L1 indicates that you should start studying the language with the first semester offered in that language, L2 that you should start with the second-semester course, and so on. L5 indicates that you are at some level beyond the fourth semester (it could be third year, fourth year, or beyond), at which time you are eligible to take any advanced-level course in that language (subject to course prerequisites and language program restrictions). These scores not only dictate your starting point for language study at Yale, but also tell you which semesters you will need to complete to fulfill the Foreign Language Requirement. Consult our Foreign Language Requirement page for more information on how your score tells you what you need to do to fulfill the requirement.
In addition to one of these five scores, some placement test results may give you additional information, such as whether you should pursue a "heritage learner" track. If you believe that a heritage or intensive course would suit your background and needs, talk with the language program director or the course's instructor.
Language Specific Information