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Back Credits For Your Native Language

Photo: UH Relations

Photo: UH Relations

The University of Hawai`i at Manoa has a policy for granting students “back credits” for proven proficiency in a second or foreign language taught at UH Manoa:

All students (including native speakers of a language) with experience in another language other than English may earn “back credits.” These students may take any UHM language course, appropriate to their level, in which there is significant use of that language. … Upon completion of this course, if students earn a letter grade of C (not C-) or better, they may receive between 3-16 back credits.

What does this mean?

In a sense, this means the university is giving you credits for your language ability. You could be eligible to get as many as 16 credits for your native-language ability. 16 free credits means that you could shorten the amount of time it takes to get a Bachelor’s degree by one semester or more!

What does the ELI have to do with it?

When this policy was first discussed, the committee developing it was thinking primarily of native speakers of English who have ability in a foreign language. In the early stages of discussion, the ELI talked to the committee about the right of all second-language speakers of English to be eligible for back credits, as well. We are confident that our involvement helped to make sure that you now have this opportunity.

We know that it is very frustrating for ELI students not to get credit for ELI classes, and we share your frustration. We strongly feel that our students deserve some kind of acknowledgement for their ability to handle academic study in a second language, and that is why we advocated for all second-language speakers of English at the university to be eligible for back credits. And now, we want to make sure all ELI students are aware that this policy exists, and that you might be eligible for back credits.

Am I eligible for back credits?

See the following links:

Again, we are very pleased to be able to inform you about this, and we hope all of you will be able to take advantage of this opportunity. Please tell other friends in the ELI — not everyone will check the website, and we want all ELI students to know about this. (Also, please tell any friends who are international or immigrant students but are not in the ELI — they may be eligible, too.)

Eligible Languages/Departments

The following languages are available at the following departments as of Spring 2022. For more information, please follow the links below:

East Asian Languages & Literatures: Chinese, Japanese, Korean

Languages & Literatures of Europe and the Americas: Ancient Greek, French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Modern Greek, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, and Swedish may also be evaluated. Please email Academic Support for more information.)

Indo-Pacific Languages & Literatures: Arabic, Cambodian/Khmer, Chamorro, Filipino, Hindi, Ilokano, Indonesian, Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, Urdu, Vietnamese (Bengali, Maori, and Thai may also be evaluated)

Linguistics: American Sign Language (ASL)

Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge: Hawaiian

*If your language is not listed, please contact your college advisor.