Basic Language Courses Get Unlimited Pass-Fail

Almost all the University's elementary language courses will be wide open to pass-fail students next fall.

The Germanic and Romance Language Departments voted at separate meetings this week not to limit the number of pass-fail students who enroll in basic German, French, Spanish, and Italian. Similar decisions on other Harvard courses aren't likely to follow soon--since the fourth-course pass-fail legislation approved by the Faculty Dec. 5 leaves the option of limiting passfail enrollment open to individual course instructors.

The chairmen of both departments said in interviews this week that the special rulings on basic language courses was meant to allow students to satisfy their language requirements without fretting about damage to their grade averages.

The departments' move came as the Committee on Educational Policy is in the midst of considering possible revisions of the language requirement--including doing away with it altogether. The CEP will probably reach a decision on the language requirement's future at its meeting next Wednesday.


Only a handful of Harvard departments have decided on a second pas-fail question--whether their concentrators can count pass-fail course toward degree requirements. The largest undergraduate fields of concentration--History, Government, English, and Economics won't be ready to settle the issue until January.

Regulations set by the Anthropology Department last week may be a model of what is to come in other fields. Anthropology concentrators will be allowed to take two pass-fail half courses for concentration. But none of the specifically required courses in the field can be taken without a grade.

The Romance Language Department established a similar set-up this week for its concentrators. Three full courses required of all concentrators will have to be taken graded. But students can fill out the rest of their requirements in the field with as many pass-fail courses as they wish.

The Faculty's final vote confirming its approval of pass-fail, originally scheduled for January, has been postponed to February to give the departments more time to decide what they will do about pass-fail.