By Ann Trail, Academic Counselor, Gateway Center, UW-Seattle
"Heritage" language speakers can frequently use the language they speak at home to meet the University of Washington's language proficiency requirement. Any student who has been educated in their heritage language through the seventh grade is classified as a "native speaker" and will have the language proficiency requirement waived. Students who were not schooled to that extent may still be able to use their language. If the language is one taught at the University of Washington, the student should approach the department that teaches the language in question. Different departments have different procedures, but all are prepared to test students.
For students who are speakers of a language not taught at the UW, and who were not schooled through the 7th grade in the language, it is still possible to use their language for the proficiency requirement. Students contact the Gateway Advising Center for an intake appointment to discuss their knowledge of the language with our language specialist. If it does seem that the student's knowledge is strong enough to pass a proficiency exam, the student will be given permission to set one up.
It is important for students to know that they need to be literate in the language as well as fluent. For students who can speak but are unable to read, the exam will not be a viable option. It will probably be easier for these students to pursue proficiency in the language they studied in high school.