The current assessment of modern languages is based upon best practices, the expertise of language instructors Drs. LeeAnn Grace, Deborah Hovland, Carol Kirby, Elaine McKee, Rafika Merini, Lucy Schwartz, Mark Warford and the proficiency guidelines of  the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

General Education Foreign Language requirement: 

  • BA students must complete one foreign language through the 202 level
  • BS and BFA students must complete one foreign language through the 102 level

I.     Learning Outcomes/Objectives:

A.      Students will demonstrate basic proficiency in the understanding and use
         of a foreign language.

  Holistic Language/Communication Strategies

    1. Student will convey meaning clearly at the sentence level.
    2. Students will use vocabulary and  idioms appropriate for the level of study (i.e. avoidance of word-for-word translation from English, false cognates; command of frequently confused words in target language, formal vs. informal address)
    3. Students will describe themselves, someone with whom they are familiar (i.e. friend, a favorite singer, et.)
    4. Students will identify and categorize, compare/contrast familiar objects in their immediate environment
    5. Students will state a fact or opinion, give a piece of advice (202 level only)
    6. Students will make a hypothetical statement (“If…, I would…”) (202 level only) 


    1. Students will use verbs marked with appropriate conjugation.
    2. Students will begin to describe events in the past using correct tense and aspect
    3. Students will correct subject-modifier agreement (i.e. correct selection of articles, noun and adjective endings)
    4. Students will use correct word order.

  Oral: (202 level only)

    1. Students will speak smoothly, with no more than a brief hesitation between words and clauses.
    2. Students will use accurate and standard pronunciation.


B.       Students will demonstrate knowledge of the distinctive features of culture
          associated with the language studied.

    1. Students will demonstrate a basic familiarity with/knowledge of Latin American and Spanish culture/ or the culture of France and Francophone countries.
    2. Students will know basic politeness, daily routines, celebrations and other differences between American and target cultures in education, health care, shopping, etc.

II.     Student Performance

A locally-developed objective standard final exam will be given in all sections of Spanish, German, French and Italian 102 and 202.  The exam includes the following:

  • A written examination on the structures and cultural topics taught in the sequence (101-102 or 101-202)
  • An oral interview will be conducted with a random sample of students from all 202 Sections of Spanish, German, French and Italian according to the following guide:

                                    Oral Interview Guide

Note to interviewer:

  • Wherever possible, ask interviewee to expand on responses:  “Can you tell me some more about…?”
  • Exploit clear opportunities for follow-up.  For example, if they say they like to sing in their spare time, ask them if they have a favorite singer and why that person is their favorite.

Warm up phase:

If appropriate, “What’s your name?”
“How are you?”
“How’s the weather out there?”

Probes/Level checks:

“Can you tell me a little about yourself?…family?…friends?…pets?…house?…neighborhood?”
“What classes are you taking?”
“Which subject do you like best?…why?”
“What’s a typical day like for you?”
“What do you like to do in your spare time? …when you’re not working?”
Who is your favorite celebrity?  Why are they your favorite?”
“What suggestions/recommendations do you have for someone who is thinking about studying (French, Italian, Spanish), etc.) at Buffalo State?
“If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?”  …”If you were president of the United States for one day, what would you do?”

Warm down:

Thank them for their time
“So, what plans do you have for the rest of the day (this afternoon, etc.)?”

III.    Assessment/Criteria/Standards

The written objective exams will be evaluated and aggregated by the foreign language faculty.

Standards for evaluating this exam are as follows:

94% or above correct answers exceeds standard
75-93% correct answers meets the standard
60-74% correct answers approaches the standard
59% or less correct answers is below the standard

The oral interview will be evaluated as follows:

In 202 courses:

4+ on rating scale

Exceeds standard

4 on the rating scale

Meets the standard

3 on the rating scale

Approaches the standard

2 on the rating scale

Below the standard

IV.   Students Assessed

All students in sections of Spanish, German, French and Italian 102 and 202 will be given the objective standard exam.  This will involve over 95% of students taking any foreign language

The oral interview will be given to 5 students from each 202 language section selected at random, with a representative number from each level established by the results on the semester objective exams. (N=40)  For example, Fall 2001 there were 8 sections of 202 for the four languages identified.  Each section had a quota of 30.  This sampling procedure would result in a 17% sample (40/240) which is sufficient to assess proficiency and yet not overburden the faculty.

V.    Feedback:

Results of this assessment will be distributed and appropriate responses will be discussed and acted upon annually at a meeting of the faculty of the Modern and Classical Languages department.