Five College Center for the Study of World Languages

Supervised Independent Language Courses

Questions? Email, call 413-542-5264 (413-542-LANG), or attend a drop-in session. Ready to Apply? Check out How to Apply.

The Five College Supervised Independent Language Program (FCSILP) offers students with excellent language learning skills an opportunity to study languages not currently offered in classroom courses at any of the Five Colleges. The program admits highly-motivated students with a record of past success in language learning. Students admitted to the program normally have done very well in previous language courses and demonstrate readiness to undertake independent work.

Conversation sessions for languages offered in the Supervised independent format meet on the home campus of the native speaking conversation partner assigned to each section. Conversation partners are spread out among all five campuses. Each student is assigned to whichever conversation section can best meet his/her educational needs with preference given to a home campus or nearby campus location when possible. Ready to Apply? Check out How to Apply.

Spring 2016 Languages

  • African Languages: Afrikaans (South Africa), Amharic (Ethiopia), Shona (Zimbabwe), Twi (Ghana), Wolof (Senegal), Zulu (South Africa).  Please note: Zulu may only be available to continuing students for Spring 2016.

  • European Languages: Albanian, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Georgian, Modern Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Modern Irish, Norwegian, Romanian, Ukrainian. Please note: Norwegian and Finnish will likely only be available to continuing students for Spring 2016.

  • Asian Languages: Bangla/Bengali, Burmese, Dari (Afghanistan), Filipino, Malay, Mongolian, Nepali, Pashto (Afghanistan and Pakistan), Sinhala, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Vietnamese.  Please note: Sinhala may only be available for continuing students.  The status of Pashto is uncertain. 
    Experimental for 2015-2016: Cantonese for Mandarin Speakers. Open to students who are native speakers or advanced speakers of Mandarin Chinese or another Chinese dialect; open to beginning/intermediate heritage speakers of Cantonese who have taken at least one year of college-level Chinese or the equivalent, a placement is required. An Asian Language major or Asian Studies major must have his/her academic advisor's permission in order to enroll.

  • Languages of the Americas: Haitian Creole

  • Limited availability languages:  There are some languages for which the program may not have enough conversation partners to admit new students. In those cases, applicants may be put on a waiting list until space becomes available.

  • Other languages may be added. Some languages become unavailable for a given semester. Some languages may appear in the catalog but only be available intermittently. If you do not see your language of interest, please e-mail for more information. 

Course Format

 An FCSILP course consists of three components:

  1. One hour a day of independent study using a combination of textbooks, workbooks, audio and video materials, software, and online materials (course components vary by language);

  2. A weekly conversation practice session led by a native-speaking conversation partner;

  3. A final oral evaluation given by a professor accredited in the target language.


Pacing and Credit

Supervised Independent courses are half courses. It takes four half courses (levels I, II, III, and IV) to complete the equivalent of a year-long elementary-level course emphasizing speaking and listening proficiency.  Half courses require a minimum of 1 hour per day (7 hours per week) of individual study plus a weekly 60-minute conversation session. Level I courses in languages with complex scripts meet for an extra 30 minutes each week for handwriting and reading practice.

The syllabus for each level defines the amount of material a student must learn during the semester. Students normally need to commit 7 hours a week to language study in order to master the material.  Students are always welcome to move faster than the assigned pace. Students who get significantly ahead of the assigned syllabus should communicate with the program staff to see what accommodations might be made to facilitate the faster pace.

Credit for half courses: Half courses are worth 1.5 credits at UMass. Five College interchange credit is: Amherst  – ½ course; Hampshire – ½ course; Mount Holyoke – 2 credits; Smith – 2 credits and at the elementary level two courses or the equivalent are required to receive credit.

Course Numbers 

FCSILP courses are available for credit to students at Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  The courses are registered through the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the FORLANGC department abbreviation. 

The best way to find out current details about available languages and levels is to consult directly with program staff members. Because the Center offers so many individualized courses and availability changes depending upon the availability of native speaking conversation partners, the online catalogs are not always up to date with what is currently available. Please consult directly with the Center about the availability of languages at all levels, including courses above the elementary level. 

We will see that each admitted student gets the course information necessary to complete registration through his/her home campus.


Course Levels

The standard elementary-level course sequence consists of the four half-courses Levels I, II, III, and IV. Students who complete level IV or who reach intermediate or advanced level proficiency through study abroad or other means should contact to find out about upper-level conversation/discussion course options. Levels V through VIII may be available by special arrangement in many languages.

Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more?  Check out Frequently Asked Questions.

Questions? Email, call 413-542-5264 (413-542-LANG), or attend a drop-in session. Ready to Apply? Check out How to Apply.