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Language Placement Tests

Kohlburg Hall

Kohlberg Hall, built in 1996, is the home of the department of Modern Languages and Literatures. (Photo Credit: Alina Jara Yupanqui)

Arabic placement exams are taken on the first day of classes.

Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Russian placement tests are offered online.

  • First-year and transfer students will receive an email from the Student Affairs Division when the testing is available (mid-July).  After receiving this notice, the student must log into Moodle and select the New Student Orientation course. In the Placement Exams section of the course, you will find detailed instructions on how to access placement exams. It is important that you complete the language survey that appears at the beginning of the test. Upon completion of the exam, students can register in the designated course during the registration period, unless an oral interview is required. Each test is an adaptive online exam available between mid-July and mid-August. Depending on the language and your score, you may be asked to complete another task, or meet with faculty during orientation. This is one of the reasons it is critical for you to complete the exam early. If an oral interview and additional testing is required, it is typically scheduled during orientation week.
  • Students who are not first-years interested in taking placement exams should contact Jess Bawgus or Bethanne Seufert  for information and instructions.
  • Students who have AP/IB are also required to take the online placement exam.
  • The Online Placement Test is not a substitute for an official standard achievement test of a foreign language (such as the College Board exam or the International Baccalaureate). Therefore, it does not serve as proof of achievement for the purpose of fulfilling the language requirement. This exam is only intended to assist instructors in placing students in the appropriate Swarthmore course.

For incoming freshmen and transfer students who hope to study Japanese will be asked to complete a survey about previous Japanese experience/language study. After receiving your survey, the Japanese instructional staff will be in touch with a link to the online placement exam and further information.  More detailed information will be found in the Dean's email to new and transfer students in mid-July.

For additional information on Spanish, visit the Department of Spanish website.

Choose a Language Program

Language Study in the Age of Globalization

This brochure by the Modern Language Association is directed primarily to college students. It​ explains how knowing other languages enriches students’ personal lives, expands their range of professional opportunities, and increases their power to act as citizens of the world.


Language Media Lab

The Language Media Lab provides resources to enhance the study of foreign language, literature, and culture at Swarthmore College. Students have access to audio/video materials required for foreign language classes. The lab's resources include 12 Macbook Pros, 8 iMacs, an extensive library of foreign films, video cameras, and audio recorders. The space is a unique, adaptable, multimedia-friendly place to study, practice and develop language skills. 

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