World Languages & Cultures

Competency Exam for Business Students

General Information

Each fall and spring semester, the Department of World Languages and Cultures administers the Competency Examination to International Business Students. The examination is given in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Russian. Students with competency in other languages must make arrangements for alternative assessment. Such arrangements must be approved in advance by the Department of World Languages and Cultures and the Cameron School of Business (CSB).

Students must pass both the written and oral portions of the exam in the same semester. If a student passes one portion but fails the other, she or he must retake both the written and oral exams.

The exam is not administered during the summer.


Step 1

Sign up here by the date 3/25/2022 following the link here for the "Foreign Language Competency Exam" By signing up, students will be registered for the exam. Please see Step 3 for information on how to sign up for the oral exam. Students are responsible for scheduling oral exams in a timely fashion after taking the written exam, with the exception of French.

Step 2

The written exam is scheduled for the first working Friday of November and April, via Canvas.* The written exams for the 2021-22 academic year are scheduled as follows:

FALL 2021


Friday, November 5, 2021

Friday, April 1, 2022





*Call 910-962-7684 two weeks before the exam if location information is not posted.

The Spring 2022 Foreign Language Competency exam will be administered online to Spring 2022 graduating Seniors only.  The written exam will be administered online through Canvas on April 1, 2022.  The oral exam will be conducted via Zoom following step 3 below.

Step 3

The oral exams are given twice annually in November or AprilFrench oral exams will be administered by French faculty via 20-minute Zoom appointments on the afternoon of April 1, 2022.  Students will need to set up their appointments in advance and to do this they must email Dr. Greta Bliss ASAP to set up an individual exam appointment. Students taking oral competency exams in all other languages should contact the corresponding instructor assigned below, soon after taking the written exam to make arrangements for the oral portion of the exam.

What is the written exam like?

You will be asked to write four short essays in the target language. You may not use a dictionary, verb wheel, or any other ancillary materials for the exam. 

The topic will be presented in English and you will write an appropriate paragraph in the target language. For example, the following situation may appear on your exam. "You have bought a birthday present for your father but you now wish to return the item. Explain to the clerk what the article is, when you bought it, and why you want to return it."

You will choose 4 out of 6 topics.

What classes should I take in order to do well on the exam?

WLC strongly encourages students to complete the intermediate sequence (201-202) as minimum preparation for the exam. If possible, take at least one 300-level course before taking the exam.

How do I prepare for the exam?

Learning a language is similar to using building blocks. Therefore, you must have a solid foundation if your building is going to stand up. It would be a good idea to review all verb tenses, vocabulary, and basic grammatical patterns from your intermediate textbook for the month prior to the exam. Remember, it is better to review for 15-20 minutes each day. It will do you little good to cram for the exam the night before.

In addition to reviewing grammar and vocabulary, you should try to immerse yourself as much as possible in the language and culture. Read a newspaper online. Watch a foreign movie. Randall Library has a quite impressive collection of films. Watch the news in a foreign language. Attend a language table. Practice with a conversation partner.

What is the oral exam like?

The oral exam will be an interactive conversation, not a monologue. Your assessor(s) may present you with a description of a situation for which you will create a conversation in the target language. You should be able to maintain a conversation over a wide range of familiar topics, such as biographical information or descriptions of family, friends, school, hobbies, likes, dislikes, employment, health, and travel. Moreover, you should have the vocabulary and grammatical expertise to perform certain tasks in the target language, such as introducing yourself, ordering a meal, asking directions, and making purchases. The oral exam will last 15-20 minutes.

Some Don'ts

  • Don't use English as a substitute for an unknown word. Use circumlocution.
  • Don't produce a monologue. You will be holding a conversation with your assessor(s).
  • Don't memorize full paragraphs. You will only get flustered if you memorize, and then forget, certain responses. You should try to use spontaneous speech as much as possible.
  • Don't stop at "yes" or "no." Elaborate. Expand. Describe. Explain and provide details.

Contact Person

For further information concerning the competency exam, contact Mrs. Jacqueline Benítez-Galbraith via email at or call at 910-962-3340.


Revised 09/11/2017