National Language Exams

National Language Exams

By Katie Lehan


This year, any Seton student that is taking a language class will have to complete a national language exam.  The exams are technically contests, where the students can earn prizes depending on their rank compared to other students nationally.

The Latin students took the National Latin Exam last Friday, March 7.  The National Latin Exam is an annual exam sponsored by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League.  It is a forty question, multiple choice test with a time limit of forty-five minutes that is given to students on seven different levels.  On the Introduction to Latin through the Latin III/IV Poetry exam levels, there are questions on grammar, comprehension, mythology, derivatives, literature, Roman life, history, geography, oral Latin and Latin used in the modern world.  The Latin V-VI exam levels are composed of two Latin passages as the basis for questions on grammar, comprehension, historical background, classical literature, and literary devices.  According to the National Latin Exam website, “The philosophy of the National Latin Exam is predicated on providing every Latin student the opportunity to experience a sense of personal accomplishment and success in his or study of the Latin language and culture.”  The website also says, “The basic purposes of the NLE are to promote the study of Latin and to encourage the individual student.”  When asked what she wants her students to get out of the National Exam, Latin Teacher Sister Mary Dolores said, “I want them to get an appreciation for how well they can do when students all over the country are taking the same test.  I hope it’s a good experience for them to find out that they know a lot more than they think they know.”

The National French Contest, otherwise known as Le Grand Concours, is an annual competition that is sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French.  Students nationally, in grades one through twelve complete a written test and compete against students with similar educational backgrounds for prizes.  Grades one through six enter in the FLES Contest and grades seven through twelve participate in the Secondary Contest.  All French students are eligible, even home school parents and/or private tutors can request for participation. When asked what she wanted her students to receive from the national exam, French teacher, Laurel Hafertepen says, “My hope is that students will be able to use the knowledge they’ve acquired and discover the areas where they need more background and information.”

The National Spanish Examinations are online, standardized assessments for grades six through twelve.  Teachers all over the nation voluntarily give this exam to their students in order to evaluate proficiency and achievement in their performance of learning a second language.    It is the first national world language exam administered online and it is the most widely used tests of Spanish in the US.  According to the website, the purpose of the National Spanish Examination is “to recognize achievement in the study of the Spanish language, to promote proficiency in interpretive communication in the Spanish language, to assess the national standards as they pertain to the Spanish language, and to stimulate further interest in the teaching and learning of Spanish.”  Spanish teacher and world language department chair, Mary Beth Corey says, ¨We are using the National Exam to see where our students compare to other students across the nation.  We know we have a strong program from the success of former students in college, but we are always looking for ways to improve student performance.  Our goal is to use the results of the exam to identify grammar or vocabulary that we need to spend more time on in class.”

The French students will take the National French Contest at the end of the month and the Spanish students will take the National Spanish Examinations in the first week of April.  The teachers expect to receive the results from the exams sometime in April.  For additional information on the National language exams, visit,, and,.


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