Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Formerly the Monterey Institute of International Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

Professor Mahmoud Abdalla Teaching Arabic, Picture

Professor Mahmoud Abdalla teaching Arabic. 

We're here to answer any questions you have about language study in our degree programs. 

We have provided answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to the language and intercultural communications component of our degree programs. For further detail, or to speak directly with Language Studies Advisor Naoko Matsuo, please contact nmatsuo@miis.edu

How many language courses do I need to take to complete the language component?

Most of our MA degree programs have 12 language study and intercultural competency credits as part of their core requirements. Students are expected to take 8-12 credits of advanced level language courses, with up to 4 credits of intercultural competency (ICC) courses during their time here. 

For specific language and ICC course requirements, view your graduate degree program of choice:

MA, International Environmental Policy MA, International Policy Studies, Human Security & Development Master of Public Administration (MPA)
MA, International Education Management MA, Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies MBA, International Management
What kind of language courses are offered?

We aim for our students to develop specific content knowledge and specialized vocabulary in their target language.  As a result, our language courses are not based on literature or general cultural study nor are solely for linguistic development.  Course materials, lecture, discussion and assignments are all given in the target language. We offer, for example, courses such as 'Green Business in China', or 'Sustainable Development in Latin America', 'Public Health Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa' and 'Reading Terrorist Group websites'. 

Why does the Institute require a certain level of language proficiency?

We require at least a 200-level (2nd-year college level) proficiency for Spanish and Arabic, and at least a 300-level (3rd-year college level) proficiency for other languages in order to offer specialized, content-based language courses.  Please note that it is not the number of years of language study you have completed that determines eligibility to enter our language program, but rather what what you can currently do with the language.

During new student orientation or at the beginning of the semester language courses will first be taken,   students must demonstrate through our language placement test that they meet the language's minimum proficiency level requirement.  Please also note that language proficiency does not remain the same over time.  Thus, even if you have studied the language extensively in the past, we still need to assess your proficiency at the time of enrollment, particularly if you have taken time off from your language study.

How are 300-level and 400-level courses defined?

Generally speaking, our 300-level courses correspond to a 3rd-year college language level, and 400-level courses to a 4th-year college language level.  However, we base our language level guidelines on proficiency level, rather than the number of years a student has studied the language in question.  

What language skills does a 300-level course entail?

When students start a 300-level course, they should be able to:

  • Converse with ease and confidence when dealing with most routine tasks and social situations.
  • Successfully handle uncomplicated tasks and social situations requiring an exchange of basic information.
  • Sustain understanding over longer stretches of time.
  • Read simple connected texts dealing with basic personal and social needs, consistently and with full understanding.
  • Extract main ideas and information from texts.
  • Take notes in detail on familiar topics.
  • Respond in writing to personal questions.
  • Write simple letters, brief synopses and summaries of biographical data, work and school experience.
  • Show emerging ability to describe and narrate in paragraphs.
What language skills does a 400-level course entail?

When students start a 400-level course, they should be able to:

  • Converse at an advanced level with ease and confidence when dealing with most tasks and social situations.
  • Successfully handle complicated tasks and social situations, even though some lack of vocabulary or special terminology is observed.
  • Consistently sustain understanding of discussion topics.
  • Read written texts with about 80% accuracy in understanding, with consistency and speed. 
  • Write memos, email, letters, and academic papers.
  • Have some public speaking skills, which will be fine-tuned while studying at this level.
  • Be aware of social protocols and proper register.
  • Function in a variety of social and professional situations.
  • Understand the current and historical issues of a specific country or region of society.
  • Understand politics, business and international affairs of a specific country or region of society.
  • Understand their specific field of study and discuss it in the target language.