Saturday, February 03, 2007

Language Requirements

My two most likely options for school next year have radically different language requirements. First, take a look at the one for UCSB linguistics:

The foreign language requirement. Students must demonstrate knowledge of one research language before receiving an M.A. and a second research language before advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. A research language is a language with substantial relevant literature on linguistics. Knowledge can be demonstrated by one of the following methods of examination within the student's area of interest: (1) English translation of a 500-word passage, chosen by the examiner, to be produced within one and a half hours with the aid of a dictionary and with no more than 8 points of erroneous comprehension (2 points for each major error significantly affecting meaning; 1 point for each minor error). (2) A 1,000-1,500 word English summary, written over a single weekend, of a substantial linguistic article chosen by the examiner. The faculty member in charge of exams for a particular language will specify a sample of material comparable to what can be expected on the exam. Translation and summary exams may be taken in May or October on a date to be set by the examiner. (3) A research paper that not only independently fulfills a course or degree requirement but also contains copious references to linguistic literature in the foreign language of interest, with the understanding that the works referred to shall be lent to the examiner for verification.
In other words, you have to be able to understand academic articles written in two languages other than English. I don't meet that requirement yet. Now look at the one for UCSD cogsci:
Language Requirement. The main goal of the language requirement is to give all students firsthand experience with some of the differences in structure and usage of languages and the several issues involved in the learning of second languages. This requirement can be satisfied by demonstrating satisfactory proficiency, by prior study in a language (e.g., two years of high school study), or by satisfactory completion of one quarter of study in a language course approved by the department.
"Two years of high school study" or "one quarter of study"! All UC undergraduates have to have more language courses than that! The theoretical bent of the two departments is fairly similar, and they have a high emphasis on empirical work, but UCSB being a linguistics department and the UCSD program being a cogsci department makes a lot of difference.