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.

Fall 2019 Languages

Note:  Five College students who are native speakers of these languages can explore employment opportunities with the Center.

"Limited availability" means we can only accept a very small number of students because of having a limited number of conversation partners. "Uncertain availability" means that we do not have conversation partners available or there is some other barrier to making the language available. Sometimes an "uncertain availability" language will become available to a limited number of students before the start of the semester.

  • African Languages
    Generally available: Amharic (Ethiopia), Twi (Ghana), also see Mentored Swahili
    Limited availability: Yoruba (Nigeria),
    Uncertain availability:  Afrikaans (South Africa), Wolof (Senegal), Zulu (South Africa)

  • European Languages
    Generally available:  Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, Bulgarian, Dutch (Netherlands), Modern Greek, Modern Irish
    Limited availability: Albanian, Czech, Danish, Hungarian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Romanian, Ukrainian
    Uncertain availability: Finnish, Georgian

  • Asian Languages
    Generally available: Bangla/Bengali (Bangladesh and India), Burmese (Myanmar), Cantonese for Mandarin Speakers**, , Malay, Nepali, Thai, Tibetan, Vietnamese, also see Mentored Hindi and Urdu, Mentored Persian, Mentored Turkish.
    Limited availability: Dari (Afghanistan), Filipino/Tagalog (Philippines), Indonesian, Lao, Mongolian, Sinhala (Sri Lanka)
    Uncertain availability: Khmer (Cambodia), Pashto (Afghanistan and Pakistan)
    ** Special requirements for Cantonese for Mandarin Speakers. Open to students who are native speakers or advanced speakers of Mandarin Chinese or another Chinese dialect; open to high beginner / intermediate-level heritage speakers of Cantonese who have taken at least one year of college-level Chinese or the equivalent, a placement is required. Asian Language majors or Asian Studies majors must have their academic advisor's permission in order to enroll.
  • Languages of the Americas
    Limited availability: Haitian Creole

  • Limited and uncertain availability languages:  Students in limited availability languages should go ahead and apply. Depending upon the situation, applications may be put on hold and prioritized based on academic readiness and purpose for studying the language. For languages where there are few spots available, students may be asked for additional information to supplement the application, such as a reference from the student’s academic advisor and/or a personal statement about the academic purpose for learning the language.

  • 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. To find out the status of 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 of individual study including 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 6-7 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 – 1.5 credits; Smith – 1.5 credits and at the elementary level two courses or the equivalent are required to receive credit.

Note for Smith College students: Smith College awards credit for level I courses upon completion of level II or higher. Latin Honors is awarded upon completion of level IV or higher. See policies here.

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 course catalogs are not up to date with what is currently available. Please consult directly with the Center about the availability of languages at all levels, especially courses above the elementary level because we often only request course numbersfor upper-level courses when a student is ready to enroll. 

We will see that each admitted student gets the course information necessary to complete registration through their 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.