Department of Romance Studies

Language Programs Placement

Frequently Asked Questions about ROMS language placement/enrollment:

Common Myths

Language classes at college are harder

We often find students with 3 or more years of the language who want to place in level 10 or 20, because they wrongly assume that the level of the class is higher than it is. We base our levels on proficiency standards, so a level 10 class expects zero knowledge in the language.

The language requirement is 3 semesters

This is rarely the case. It only needs to be 3 semesters if you have never studied the language before and you need to start off in level 10. For most students it can be fulfilled with just one 1 semester (if they start in level 30 or above) or 2 semesters (if they start in level 20).

Beyond the 30-level

Even though our 30 level is the requirement, many of our students who have taken the language throughout high school might be ready to take the next level up (104 or 105, depending on the language). This course will be more beneficial to them than taking the 30 level. Please do not advise students to sign up for a lower level than their current proficiency for an “easier” course. It is not fair to the other students in the class, they will not learn as much, and it’s not ethical to misrepresent themselves pretending that they do not know as much as they do.

Taking a language can wait

We recommend that students take a language course as soon as possible. Waiting will mean that they will feel “rusty” and lack confidence and therefore try to place below a level that is adequate for them. Fulfilling the language requirement early opens more doors for study abroad, access to higher courses or even the possibility of a minor or major in the language.

Placement Test is binding

The placement test does not exempt students from the language requirement, it's only an indicator of level. Besides, if a student feels that the class they are placed into is not a good fit for them, they are encouraged to talk to their professor during the Add/Drop period and request to change the level.

Exemption Exam

We prefer that students take a course with us at Brandeis if they have no official test scores. We occasionally conduct exemption exams but mainly for heritage speakers who can communicate in the language but have not taken a language class before.


Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about registration: