Graduate Foreign Language Reading Translation Exams (GFLRTE)
If required for your graduate program, we offer the graduate foreign language reading translation exam. Please check with the Department of World Languages and Cultures for lesser taught languages. You may request to test in a particular language once per academic session.
In consultation with your academic department, you’ll determine the language and proficiency level (average or high) for which you’ll test. You may test only in languages offered by the Department of World Languages and Cultures.
You’ll select text(s) to use in the exam, in consultation with your advisor. You’ll select 200 pages of text. It’s important to choose appropriate text(s) for the exam:
- For average proficiency, the text should correspond with knowledge of a language comparable to that acquired through two years of college-level instruction in the U.S.
- For high proficiency, the text should correspond with knowledge of a language sufficient to enable you to use appropriate literature in your field.
It takes several weeks from when you register until your exam is ready to take, and additional time is needed for scoring and reporting results.
Your department chairperson or director of graduate studies must approve the text(s) before you register. The examiner can reject a text if they find it to be inappropriate, which can cause a significant delay.
|Student's Major Dept.||Language Tested||Book||Reason for Examiner's Rejection|
|Chemistry||French||Temoin A, Temoin C, Optique Cristalline (C.R. Acad. Sci.), Le Spectre D'Absorption… (Spectrochimica Acta), Le Tour De La Méditerranée Par Deux Enfants||
"It is not appropriate for the exam. It is a book meant for children and contains limited vocabulary. The verbs are all in the present tense and there are no complex sentences. This text does not offer passages that would test the reading knowledge of the examinee.
Reading knowledge of the language comparable to that acquired through two years of reading instruction would include an ability to recognize and translate correctly 1) all the verb tenses; 2) subordinate and relative clauses; 3) vocabulary that the educated adult reader could be expected to know.
Examinees generally provide a text in their field of study. A book or a scholarly journal in the area of the candidate's specialty would be the best choice for this exam."
|English||German||Homo Faber by Max Frisch||"The purpose of the reading examination is to determine 'whether the examinee's reading knowledge of the language is sufficient to effectively use professional journals and other scholarly works in the field.' The novel, Homo Faber, by Max Frisch is not a scholarly work and is, therefore, inappropriate for the examination."|
|Mathematical Sciences||French||Théorie Des Distributions, by Laurent Schwartz||"I find that this book is not suitable for the reading exam because there is simply not sufficient prose text. In general, the book is a series of equations and proofs accompanied by minimal description. For this reason, I am asking the student to submit another book for the exam. Since it is often difficult to find appropriate French texts in math, I would urge the student to consider a book concerned with the history of mathematics or one offering a biography of a mathematician."|
|English||German||Im Westen Nichts Neues, Remarque, Erich Maria||"The text chosen is a novel and not suitable for testing a graduate student's ability to read and do research in German in his/her chosen area of study. The text provided was to be from a secondary source, e.g., a journal article."|
|Art History||Spanish||Ocho Mundos, Wegman, Brenda||"The text is too elementary."|
|Art History||Spanish||Civilizacion Y Cultura, Copeland, Kite, Sandstedt||
"The Intermediate Spanish reader Civilizacion Y Cultura, Copeland, Kite, Sandstedt, is not an adequate text to test average reading knowledge at a post-graduate level, as required through two years of post-graduate reading instruction in Spanish. The text received is an auxiliary text for teaching third- or fourth-semester undergraduate Spanish, as the introduction states.
(To further clarify, in order for me to choose a passage from another work, I would need to receive a text pertinent to the examinee's field and level of graduate study, and especially without English marginal glosses, explanatory notes and translated vocabulary, as is the case in the text I am returning. I also find it difficult to choose a 600-word passage from a text shorter than the required 200-page length...)"
|Art History||Spanish||Literature Y Arte||
"I would suggest that the student consider using a text that, while designed/written for native speakers, is an expository text (perhaps based on the examinee's field of expertise) rather than a literary one. I am quite familiar with the text the examinee presented in Spanish, and I am not sure it is appropriately used for this purpose due to the level of language and number of terms/vocabulary specific to Mexico."
[Another examiner also rejected the book because:] "The Intermediate Spanish supplementary reader Literature Y Arte is not an adequate text to test average reading knowledge as acquired through two years of reading instruction in Spanish."
|English||Spanish||Biblia de Estadio||
"I cannot clearly see the advantage for the student to take this examination as it is projected now (a translation and summary from the New Testament).
I would say the student will benefit by exposing him/her to actual material taken from academic journals and other scholarly work in the field [monographs/literary criticism/essays] written in Spanish, all of which we have plenty in our library.
The student might be asked otherwise to translate/summarize a passage from contemporary or modern literature written in Spanish (XIX or XX cents.), according to his/her area of interest. In this manner the examination will correspond better to the objectives."
How to Register
- Print and complete the graduate translation exam registration form (PDF). Get it signed by your department chairperson or director of graduate studies.
- Register for the test with the Department of World Languages and pay the fee ($50 for average proficiency, $70 for high proficiency).
- Bring the signed registration form to the department of Worlds Languages and Cultures.
- Check your NIU email account for a message from us indicating whether the Department of World Languages and Cultures approved your text(s). It can take several weeks for them to decide.
- After you’re notified that the test was approved, call the Department of World Languages at 815-753-1501. You must take the test within one month of the date you were notified of its availability.
Taking the Test
An examiner will select passages from the text(s) you submitted for your exam. You may use a foreign language/English dictionary.
The following time limits apply:
- Average proficiency: 90 minutes to translate a passage of three to four pages (all parts of speech included)
- High proficiency: one hour to translate a passage of one page (all parts of speech included) and two hours to summarize (not translate) a passage of five-seven pages
When complete, your exam will be evaluated on a pass/fail basis. Approximately, two weeks later, the Department of World Languages and Cultures will report the results to you, Testing Services, the Graduate School (if pass) and your department chairperson or director of graduate studies.
The registration fee is non-refundable after your text is approved by the examiner. If the text is not accepted by the examiner and you decide not to take the exam, you’ll receive a partial refund. If you cancel after an examiner has been selected, you’ll need to register again and pay the registration fee.