Frequently Asked Questions

If this list does not contain the answer to your question, please send email to fll-www@mit.edu.

Foreign Languages & Literatures Specifics

Q How many classes does it take to concentrate in a foreign language?

A Assuming that you already have some skill in the language, you would take three subjects. If you are starting from scratch, however, youíll need to take four classes, finishing with Level IV, to get you up to speed.

Q How many classes does it take to minor in a foreign language?

A Assuming that you already have two years worth of good high school experience in the language and you can start with Level III language subjects, then you would take a total of six subjects for a minor. If youíre not quite at the Level III language skill, then youíd have to take additional lower level classes as a pre-requisite.

Q Can I concentrate and minor in the same language?

A Yes, itís actually encouraged! Your concentration subjects can also be attributed towards your minor. If youíve started your concentration at Level III, you can build directly upon those three subjects and add three more to make a minor.

Q How do I take a foreign language placement exam?

A MIT prefers to do its placement on a one-on-one basis, rather than formal exams. The best thing to do is consult with one of the faculty members listed for your particular language interest and send them an inquiry email or talk in person. You can also place yourself. You can presume that one year of good high school language preparation is equivalent to one semester of university level language. Students with two years of good high school language often feel ready for Level III language at MIT. Many instructors may do some informal testing on the first day of classes to help students find the correct level for their skills. In some cases instructors may recommend you take a different subject than the one for which you are currently registered.

Q What are the differences between the Regular and Streamlined Chinese subjects?

A The Streamlined subjects are designed for students who already have conversational skills (typically gained from growing up in a Chinese-speaking environment) without a corresponding level of literacy. The Regular sequence of Chinese subjects are for students who are not heritage learners.

Q Can I concentrate in a language offered at Harvard?

A Yes! Read about the cross-registration program at Harvard for more information about how to register for classes at http://web.mit.edu/shass/undergraduate/programs/cross-reg.shtml

Q Can I minor or major in a language offered at Harvard?

A With the exception of MITís Regional Minor programs, and a Major Departure in East Asian Studies, you cannot minor or major in a language not offered at MIT.


General Information

Q What is the HASS-D language option?

A The HASS Distribution Requirement was designed to promote increased breadth of study in a manner that complements the concentration component of the HASS Requirement, and to provide a more structured and intellectually coherent overall Requirement. Please see http://web.mit.edu/hass/www/textonly/langopt.html for more information.

Q How can I make sense of the schedule information?
A Course schedule information often appears in a form like MT/RF, 9:00-10:00, 14N-225/4-249. The slashes indicate that the class meets in two different rooms: in the example, Monday and Tuesday in 14N-225, Thursday (R is Thursday) and Friday in Room 4-249. Many classes make use of more than one classroom. In rare instances, a class may meet at different times on different days, in which case a slash would separate the two different days/times (and possibly rooms as well, if applicable). Note that these divisions are NOT recitation/lab divisions; students are expected to attend class on all the days and times listed unless otherwise instructed.
Q Can spouses take classes?
A This depends on the status of the individuals in question. Consult the Special Student Admissions office at 253-2917, or for spouses of MIT employees, the Personnel office.
Q Do you do translations?
A Sometimes a few of our academic staff will take on translations as freelance work, but in general we do not offer translation services.
Q How does one sign up for IAP language classes?
A IAP signup is announced on the FL&L IAP website . See web site for directions and policy.

HTML and other WWW details

Q What are the HTML codes to use for accents, tildes, umlauts, etc?
A Try http://web.mit.edu/fll/www/help/iso8859-1.html
Q How do I make my computer understand Japanese characters? Chinese characters? Other non-Roman character sets?
A Most browsers require you to install the non-Roman fonts in your system, then explicitly switch to that character set in the browser as well. Here are some places to look for more details about specific languages and character sets:

For Japanese try http://web.mit.edu/21f.500/www/help/

For Chinese try http://www.mandarintools.com or http://www.cnd.org/WWW-HZ/WWWChinese.html or http://babel.uoregon.edu/yamada/fonts/chinese.html.

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