Language Requirement Substitution

Students who believe that they have a documented disability that precludes learning a foreign language should contact the Student Disabilities Services Office (SDS). A member of their professional staff will explain the assessment procedure, which requires up-to-date neuropsychological testing.

If a student’s disability is verified by SDS, the student should call 215.898.6341 and make an appointment to meet with Dr. Niel McDowell in the College Office to confirm approval of the substitution and to select appropriate substitution courses. The number of courses each student will require will depend upon the number of foreign language classes he or she has completed before applying for the substitution. A full substitution will require four substitute courses. 

Substitution courses are selected as follows: The student must choose one geographical area in the world where English is not the primary language and take at least one course in cinema or literature in translation from that country or region. The remaining courses will focus on the culture or literature of that same geographical area. If the student has not taken any foreign language courses at Penn, she or he must also take one class in linguistics or anthropology of language. All classes for the language substitution must be approved in advance by Dr. McDowell.

Courses used as part of the Language Requirement substitution may not also be used to fulfill any major requirement, nor to fulfill any part of the Sector Requirement.

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