Native Speakers Waiving FDR

All W&L undergraduates must demonstrate mastery of intermediate language skills other than English in order to meet the Foundation requirement in language. You do that by taking courses offered at or approved by W&L or by showing competency through W&L-administered placement tests or placement tests overseen by faculty at another US university teaching a language not offered at W&L. The information below is intended to help students demonstrate competency in this last instance. You do not receive any credit for passing a placement test; the requirement is just waived.

The steps are relatively simple though occasionally take time to set up.

  • Locate a faculty member qualified (studied the language at the graduate level and actively teaching the language at an accredited four-year U.S. college or university) to determine your speaking, listening, reading, and writing ability in the language.
  • Pass the faculty's academic qualifications and contact information to the University Registrar.
  • Take the test(s).
  • Assuming satisfactory results, petition the W&L faculty for a waiver of the requirement.

Locating a faculty member

Since W&L does not pay for such testing, you must locate someone willing to test you, either gratis or for a fee paid by you (the former, we all hope). Start by looking for an accredited four-year university in the United States which teaches the language in which you want to be tested. Most testing is done on W&L's campus or by distance, so you don't need to think about travelling to another university.

Here are two resources to help you locate someone:

  • CARLA's searchable North American database of less-commonly taught languages
  • Search educational institutions' offerings by using Google (or your favorite search engine) with something like the following formula, noting the spaces:

site:*.edu +language +"langname"
replacing "langname" with one word or string related to the language, e.g. Korean.

Getting the Faculty Member Approved

Once you have located a faculty member teaching the language for an accredited US university, email the faculty member to explore whether they are available, willing, and inexpensive.

If you get a positive response, send the name of the faculty member and, if possible, a link to an online biography or "curriculum vita" (c.v. or extended résumé) to W&L's University Registrar, who will confirm their faculty qualifications. Do not commit to testing until the Registrar has corresponded with the professor.

If the faculty member is qualified, the Registrar will begin a conversation with the faculty member regarding W&L's expectations for the testing and offering to serve as a proctor if necessary for the testing.


The testing may be accomplished in a variety of ways (e.g., by phone, in person, in writing, a combination of these) as long as it tests all aspects (reading, writing, listening, speaking). The goal is to demonstrate that you would be qualified to enter the third year of study in the language at the testing institution.

There is no hurry to accomplish this, though handling it during the middle of your first term is often ideal.

Petition for Waiver

The Washington and Lee faculty receive petitions through the Committee on Courses and Degrees, chaired by the Dean of the College. The process for submitting a student petition is detailed on the Courses and Degrees Committee page ( The result is that the FDR requirement is waived; no credit is awarded toward the degree.