Language Petition Procedure

You may be eligible for the language petition if:

  • you have a documented language learning disability; or
  • despite diligent study and regular attendance in class, lab sessions, and tutoring sessions, you experience significant and unusual difficulties in language acquisition as verified by your language faculty.

NOTE: Students who are enrolled in language during the filing of a petition and evaluation should stay enrolled in the language course until they have been assured that their petition for exemption has been approved by the Foreign Language Subcommittee.

The Petition Process

Step 1. If you are considering petitioning for language exemption, you should first talk to your language instructor, if currently enrolled in a language.  Next, make an appointment with Associate Dean Andrew Fisher, (x4300). At the meeting, Dean Fisher will:

  • Explain the process to you and make sure you have the necessary petition form (which can be downloaded from this page).
  • Let you know that we will be seeking feedback from your language instructor(s), as well as any forms they may have submitted to the Dean of Students office concerning your academic progress in their classes.
  • Have you talk about your experience trying to learn a foreign language.
  • Ask you to write a brief statement about your experience trying to learn a foreign language. Along with the petition and statement, you may also include supporting documents from others (i.e. tutors, instructors, those who are familiar with your history of effort and attempts at language study). The foreign language subcommittee is interested in knowing what it was like for you to try to learn a language, what you did to try to learn the language, what worked, what didn’t, and what gave you difficulty. Useful statements detail not just that language learning was difficult for you, but how it was difficult for you.

How long should the statement be? Some students write a page, others more--whatever is needed. Remember, this isn’t a test and we aren’t going to grade you, but we are trying to understand the nature of your difficulty.

Step 2 - Submit your completed petition and statement to the Dean of the College office, Laird 131. Make certain your adviser has signed the petition.

Step 3 - The Foreign Language Subcommittee will meet to consider your petition. Meetings are held twice a term, in weeks 1 & 7.  The subcommittee will have a packet of information which includes your high school and Carleton transcripts, reports from language instructors, and other relevant information provided from your student file. The subcommittee will either recommend or deny exemption.  You will be notified of the subcommittee's decision after their meeting.

Alternate Courses

Approval of your petition does not mean that you will be automatically exempted from the language requirement.  In most instances, the Foreign Language Subcommittee will assign up to three alternate, pre-approved Carleton 6-credit linguistics, literature, and/or culture courses to be taken in lieu of further language study.  These courses must be completed with a C- or better.

View Alternate Courses for Language Exemption.