Foreign Language Course Substitution

A “language-learning disability” is a term used to cover a considerable variety of cognitive differences that make learning a language, especially a foreign language (or certain aspects of a foreign language), exorbitantly difficult.

Students with documented language disabilities need to meet with the Dean of Students Office for consultation regarding diagnosis. 

When the diagnosis of the learning disability warrants it, students are offered an alternative to complete Occidental's language requirement. The language requirement at Oxy has several objectives: through language study, students develop not only language abilities, but also intercultural skills and perspectives that will assist them to become productive citizens of the world. The rationale behind the choice of alternative courses is to provide the student with at least some of the same educational breadth that students gain through language study.

Since the language requirement is the attainment of proficiency equivalent to that acquired in two college-level courses, the alternative is also set at two courses, which work toward the same ends. If one beginning language course has already been completed with a grade of D or better, it will be counted towards the requirement.

It is recommended that students whose language-learning disability involves solely listening and speaking should take Latin or Ancient Greek, both of which are regularly offered at Oxy. Those with more general language-learning disabilities should take literature and culture courses offered in translation in the language departments. Students may also take a Linguistics course, or a non-Anglophone literature and culture course offered in other departments, in consultation with a Language Department Chair.


  1. A student who has a documented language learning disability, or who believes they may have a language learning disability,  should make an appointment with Disability Services (call 323-259-2969 or email to discuss whether or not the foreign language course substitution accommodation is appropriate. If approved, Disability Services staff will provide a Course Substitution form for the student.
  2. Next, the student should contact a Chair of a Language Department to discuss options for an appropriate substitution course. Once a course has been agreed upon, the Chair will sign the Course Substitution form.
  3. The student should then contact the Core Director for final approval and signature.
  4. Once all of the above approvals have been collected, students should submit the Course Substitution form to the Registrar’s Office.


Last updated October, 2017