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World Languages and Cultures

Certificate of Competence in Language and Culture

Description of Certificate

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, 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 hours

2 semesters of language study beyond the intermediate level (150 or 160 level) or equivalent from abroad.

3 hours

1 course in Intercultural Communication (WLC 148) or equivalent from abroad.

5 hours

Study Abroad and surrounding experience courses: WLC 080, 081, 082 (1, 1, 3 credits respectively).

Program Overview

The program currently offers seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. Professors mentor students as they gain functional competence 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 faculty.

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 language faculty twice weekly in order to develop communicative skills, examine aspects of grammar, and learn about the language's culture.  Students also work with native speakers in groups of six or fewer. 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 the language faculty.

Placement Exams and Registration

Students who have previous experience studying the language must complete the placement process to ensure that they begin study at the level for which they are prepared. First-year students will take the placement exam either prior to or during summer orientation, and all other students can take the placement exam during specified times during the academic year prior to registration.

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

Additional Activities

In addition to 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 Día de los Muertos. Occasionally, the program sponsors other activities such as a karaoke night, an origami workshop, and weekly language tables.

University Events
University News
August 17, 2018
Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, gave a special lecture to approximately 350 Drake Law students, faculty, and staff on Aug. 16.