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World Languages and Cultures

Certificate of Competence in Language and Culture

Certificate Description

The Certificate of Competence in Language and Culture is designed to allow students to demonstrate competence in a language other than English and a competent understanding of the cultural contexts in which that language is spoken. Interested students may pursue the certificate in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. Undergraduate students from any school or college are eligible to apply and the certificate is compatible with many majors.

In order to receive the certificate, students will meet a set of requirements combining academic and co-curricular experiences. These experiences include a mandatory study-abroad experience in a program approved by the director of the World Languages and Cultures program.

Requirements for Certificate

Minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA and 3.0 GPA in language courses

The certificate consists of a minimum of 14 hours of coursework (though more may be required upon a student's initial knowledge of the language of study).

6 hours2 semesters of language study beyond the intermediate level (150 or 160 level) or equivalent from abroad.
3 hours1 course in Intercultural Communication (WLC 148) or equivalent from abroad.
5 hoursStudy Abroad and surrounding experience courses: WLC 080, 081, 082 (1, 1, 3 credits respectively).


Drake University Language Acquisition Program

The Drake University Language Acquisition Program (DULAP) is a unique, learner-centered approach to language education/learning. The Program offers  several languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. Professors and native speakers mentor students  as they gain functional proficiency in a language other than English, develop cultural understanding and become responsible global citizens. Students prepare to study or live abroad, enhance professional development and pursue personal interests while working alongside native speakers and language acquisition specialists.

Students in their first semester of language study at Drake enroll in both the language course of their choosing and the co-requisite Language Learning Strategies course. Together, this is a five credit-hour commitment. Both courses are explained in detail below.

Language Courses:

Focusing on the development of functional communicative competency, students learn to use the language rather than merely learning about the language.

Students work with native speakers in groups of five or fewer three times per week. The native speaker helps them learn how speakers of that language really speak. This immersion experience simulates, on a small scale, the way in which students learned their first language. The opportunity to practice grammar and to have questions answered in English is available from a professor of the language being studied. These faculty members meet once a week with students, train the native speakers, design curriculum,  and do many other things to assist students to improve their proficiency as they study. Students are primarily evaluated through midterm and final examinations and an electronic portfolio. All midterm and final examinations include an oral interview with the professor, with content based on the materials assigned in the syllabus. Questions may include materials not directly assigned, but those appropriate to the students experience and skill level. The ePortfolio is a collection of work produced by a student which documents his/her improving competencies through the time of study.

Language Learning Strategies Course

In the Language Learning Stragegies Course (LAP 098), students are equipped with the skills to become successful language learners in the program. Students of all languages and skill levels take this course during their first semester in the program. The two-credit-hour course is taguth by the language Professors.

Several topics are covered throughout the semester. Students learn to:

  • Utilize new strategies to help them become more effective language learners.
  • Reflect critically on the progress they are making in the target language and as language learners in general.
  • Use the technology required to complete specific assignments and document progress through the ePortfolio.

Enrolling in Language Courses

Students interested in taking classes in DULAP must submit the online application (available on the DULAP website: /international/dulap/ ). Students who have previous experience studying the language must complete the placement process to ensure that they begin study in DULAP at the level for which they are prepared. Students are registered for DULAP courses by the program; students do not register themselves.

Drake University does not have a general language requirement; several academic programs require language study (Education endorsements in French, German, and Spanish; the Global Ambassador Certificate; International Business; International Relations; and Vocal Performance).

Additional Activities

In addition to the academic offerings, the language program organizes additional opportunities for students to improve their linguistic competence and gain additional cultural knowledge. Students can, for example, interact with members of the Des Moines community who speak the language at events such as Dia de los Muertos. They might also participate in Drake’s International Film Festival. Occasionally, the program sponsors other activities such as karaoke night, an origami workshop, and weekly language tables.


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