2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Does Home Language Fulfill Foreign Language Requirement?

I am an Ethiopian-American student in my freshmen year of high school. In my household, we speak Amharic, and this language is actually the first language I’ve learned.

However, I’ve heard and read a lot that taking a foreign language in high school is crucial for getting admitted to a top university. As the Ivy-League aspirer that I am, I was really disappointed to find this out. I thought all of my honors and AP classes that I’m taking would make up for it (I only took Spanish 1 in eighth grade but I do not intend on continuing to take Spanish in high school because I’d rather pile a bunch of AP classes to my schedule).

Although I did hear about the Minnesota Bilingual/Multilingual Seal and World Language Proficiency Certificate that I could get in grade 10, 11, or 12 at my school by taking a speaking, hearing, and writing test about a foreign language (and Amharic is one of them).

If I receive this, will this make up for the 2 to 4 years of foreign language classes that I won’t be taking in high school?

🎉 First post
Let’s welcome @BethelTeklu25 to the community! Remember to be kind, helpful, and supportive in your responses.

Earn karma by helping others:

1 karma for each ⬆️ upvote on your answer, and 20 karma if your answer is marked accepted.

2 answers

2 years ago[edited]

I think context is important to consider for application officers reading files. So if you were applying from Ethiopia as an Int'l Student where APs and standard foreign languages were not taught (French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese), then they may consider accepting some evidence of being fluent in multiple non-standard African languages and cut you some slack.

It appears you are applying from Minnesota in the US and enrolled in a public high school and your goal is to attend an American Ivy so I do not think your fluency in Amharic is going to replace the requirement unless you are specifically applying to major in African Languages. I'm pretty sure the only Ivy that offers Amharic is Harvard, as part of their African languages major.

Piling up on a bunch of APs is not the way to go. First, you should make sure you have all the baseline HS requirements accounted for, then expand your course rigor according to your academic narrative. For example at Harvard, they strongly recommend that you have 4 years of math, English, Foreign Language, Science (including Bio/Chem/Physics and 2 labs) and 3 years of History including US History and European History. And some evidence of expository writing ability.

Good luck.

2 years ago

Being a heritage speaker of Amharic will be valued by colleges because it demonstrates diversity in your background. Colleges will take you at your word about your fluency without a certificate, though you will have to take a proficiency test if you want to take Amharic classes.

However, your home language will not fulfill the foreign language requirements at the schools that care about them. This is because these schools want to see that you have experienced the foreign language learning process and that you have an intellectual curiosity to learn about all subjects.

Every school is different with regards to the importance they give to foreign languages. This CollegeVine blog post will show you the language requirements at top 20 schools. Language requirements also depend on your major - you generally will not need to come into college with too many language classes under your belt if your intended major is in STEM. Hope this helps!

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Community Guidelines

To keep this community safe and supportive:

  1. Be kind and respectful!
  2. Keep posts relevant to college admissions and high school.
  3. Don’t ask “chance-me” questions. Use CollegeVine’s chancing instead!

How karma works