WTF: FLIP gives language savy students credit

Sometimes it may seem like there are more acronyms at Northern Kentucky University than students, but programs like FLIP (the Foreign Language Incentive Program) are invaluable to the students who qualify for them.

FLIP is a program designed to award credit to students who had some knowledge of a foreign language before coming to Northern Kentucky University.

“FLIP rewards good students for their effort in high school, and it also encourages native speakers of languages taught at Northern to come here and to pursue advanced language study,” Tom Leech, foreign language coordinator, said. He went on to say that a well qualified student could earn up to 14 credit hours.

This program is especially useful to majors such as English that have foreign language requirements, and to native speakers of a language other than English.

“A native speaker of a language is saving close to the equivalent of a semester in college tuition. Although students do not receive the credits until they’ve completed two courses, when the credits do kick in, they allow students to register earlier in future semesters and to have greater access to courses in all disciplines that fill quickly,” Leech said.

Participants must take the WebCAPE online placement test (which can be found at if it is available for their language, and submit a form to express interest in the program and explain their previous experience in the language. They maust also demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge of the subject. Final credit assignment, if any, is up to the Department of Literature and Language.

Leech encourages students to take advantage of the placement tests offered, both for the credit and to determine the level of class that a student belongs in, because it offers an appropriate challenge to the student.

“Students who intentionally score low on the placement test are often sorry. Because the work isn’t challenging and the student often has more pressing demands on her or his time, the result is often a D or F in the lower-level course,” Leech said. “In the past students have repeatedly said that this approach has backfired for them. The placement test is a good indicated of the level at which a student will be comfortable, that is, challenged, but not out of her of his element.”

Leech believes it is important to take the study of foreign language seriously, not only because it helps round out a good education, but because of the possibilities it garners for future employment.

“Knowledge of a major world language, whether it’s Spanish, German, Chinese, or any of the languages taught at Northern, can be an important factor in hiring decisions,” said Leech.

Leech went on to say that language proficience is more valuable than just securing a better career.

“It’s also important in understanding other cultures and the experience of those who come to the United States as immigrants and who learn English after they arrive here.”