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Modern Languages Undergraduate Courses


The Modern Languages department offers a wide range of courses from beginning through advanced levels. Our curriculum is designed to accommodate students of all levels, including non-native, heritage, and native speakers.

Students can use courses in Modern Languages to fulfill General Education requirements in the Humanities, to satisfy the language requirement for the Global Perspectives Liberal Studies Major, to satisfy the language requirement for students majoring in an Arts and Science discipline (e.g., History, Public Policy, Media and Culture, etc.), or to satisfy language requirements for some study abroad programs. Students also study languages through the Arts and Sciences elective option.


The department of Modern Languages uses a combination of tools to determine where students should begin their language study at Bentley, including online placement exams, guidelines based on high school study of a foreign language, and individual assessment by professors during the first week of classes. Please read the information below to help determine where to start your language study at Bentley University.

Online Placement Exams in French and Spanish:

Students wishing to study French or Spanish should take our online placement exam to help determine where to start their foreign language studies at Bentley. This test can be found on the Modern Languages department’s homepage in the box titled: “Taking Languages at Bentley: What you need to know.” 

Students will need to remember their scores on these placement exams and be prepared to give their score to their professor during the first week of class. In order for these exams to be accurate, students must complete the entire exam.

Language Training in High School:

The following general guidelines for placement in ML courses are based on years of high school language training. Please note that these are only guidelines and may not apply equally to all students. At the beginning of every semester, Modern Languages professors may move a student to a different class based on in-person assessment. Professors reserve the right to deny students entry to a class they believe is not appropriate for the student’s ability.  

  • One year or less of high school training in the target language: Beginning I (i.e., all language courses having a 101 designator).
  • One or two years of high school training in the target language: Beginning II (i.e., all language courses having a 102 designator).
  • Two or three years of high school training in the target language: Intermediate I (i.e., all language courses having a 201 designator).
  • Three or four years of high school training in the target language: Intermediate II (i.e., all language courses having a 202 designator).
  • Four or more years of high school training in the target language: Advanced ML courses (300 or 400 level course)

Interview placements at the beginning of each semester:

During the first week of classes each semester, ML professors conduct individual, 10-minutes interviews with their students to ensure proper class placement. These interviews typically take place in the professor’s office and are conducted in the target language. If a professor feels the student is misplaced in her/his class (despite having used the above listed guidelines), the student will be moved into a more appropriate class (based on class availability and the student’s schedule).

AP Exams:

Students who have scored 4 on an AP Language and Culture Exam are ready to continue their chosen language study at the Intermediate II level (202). Students who have scored a 5 should enroll in any ML course above 202. Students of French or Spanish who have received a 4 or 5 on the AP Literature and Culture Exam will receive Bentley credit for MLFR303 or MLSP306, respectively. These students can enroll in any course above 202 except MLFR303 or MLSP306. Once Bentley course credits are granted for an AP course, students may not repeat that same course at Bentley or they will lose the AP credits.

Please note: once students have taken a course beyond the 202 level, they may not go back to take a lower-level courses in the beginner or intermediate sequences. It is advised that students contact the appropriate professor for additional information about interest in registering for a particular advanced course.

100-200 levels

Language Courses:

300 level

Culture Courses

400 level

Thematic Courses

Pedagogical emphasis is on grammar, vocabulary, reading and oral comprehension, short written compositions and an introduction to culture.

Pedagogical emphasis is on a broad study of culture, history and civilization. Students refine their written and spoken skills in the target language while making more in-depth analyses of history, politics, cultural traditions, and artistic trends in the countries where the target language is spoken.

Pedagogical emphasis is on the particular thematic content of the course (cinema, literature, controversial cultural topics, etc.) The main focus of the course is not the study of language per se, but the study of culture. Students write academically rigorous essays in the target language. Research may also be a component of the class.

Note: All Modern Languages courses have prerequisite guidelines. Please read them carefully. In addition, every student will be screened for skill level during the first week of classes to ensure proper course placement. The courses below are designed for both native and highly advanced students of any of the languages offered at Bentley.