Language Requirement

Foreign language study provides an entrance into another culture and its way of thinking, as well as illuminating one's native language.

All student who speak English as a primary language can satisfy the Luther College language requirement in one of the following ways:

Continuing a Language

Students wishing to continue in the study of a language in which they have received previous instruction must successfully complete a course at or above the level of third-semester language instruction. Such students will satisfy the requirement with one, two, or three courses, depending on their language proficiency at entrance. A placement examination is available to help students determine the level of proficiency.

Starting a First or Second Foreign Language

Students who have studied one language for at least one year in high school (9-12) may satisfy the requirement by successfully completing the first two courses of another modern or classical language. This options is also open for all students with no previous formal language instruction.

Very Advanced Speakers of a Foreign Language

Students with very advanced foreign language proficiency may be exempted from this requirement through an examination approved by the classical languages department or the modern languages department. Luther College does not administer proficiency examinations in languages not offered at the college. Luther will recognize the results of proficiency examinations in languages administered by other colleges or by American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Students whose primary language is not English are exempted from the foreign language requirement; they may not earn academic credit by completing language courses in their primary language.


Depending on your previous experiences and your language proficiency, you can satisfy the language requirement with one, two, or three courses.

  • One course: Sarah took French at High School for three years and was placed into French 202. She wants to continue with French and has to take French 202 to fulfill the language requirement.
  • Two courses: Peter took Spanish at High School for two years and placed into Spanish 102. He wants to continue with Spanish, therefore, he has to take Spanish 102 and 201.
  • Two courses: Anna has not studied any language. She decides to start with Chinese and will have to take Chinese 101 and 102.
  • Two courses: Carl studied Polish at his High School for two years. Polish is not offered at Luther, therefore, he decides to take Norwegian as a new language. He has to take Norwegian 101 and 102 to satisfy the language requirement.
  • Two courses or three courses: Nora studied Spanish for one year at her High School. She placed into Spanish 101. She decides not to continue with Spanish, but to take German as a new language. She will have to take German 101 and 102. If she would have decided to continue with Spanish, she would have had to take Spanish 101, 102 and 201.
  • No course: Haakon is from Norway. His primary language is Norwegian. He is exempted from the language requirement. At the same time, he cannot receive any academic credit by completing language courses in Norwegian.

Placement Testing

Every student is required to take a placement test for all courses above 101. Placement tests for most languages are online. The admissions office will inform you about how to access the placement test.

Please talk to your instructor as soon as possible if you think that the result of the placement test does not reflect your language abilities. Your instructor will help you find the right course for you.