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Hawaiian/Second Language

In addition to improving written and oral communication and reasoning skills, proficiency in Hawaiian or a second language (HSL) is an integral part of the university’s mission to “prepare students to function effectively in a global society,” to “preserve and promulgate Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific language, history, and culture and [to] provide students an education experience with an international dimension” (The University of Hawai’i Strategic Plan 1996-2001: “Goals,” sec. 111, C: p. 5; “Action Strategies,” sec. V, 2; p. 9).

The Hawaiian or Second Language (HSL) requirement varies by UHM college/school.

To fulfill the Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Issues Focus requirement, at least two-thirds of a class must satisfy the following Hallmarks:

H1. The content should reflect the intersection of Asian and/or Pacific Island cultures with Native Hawaiian culture.

H2. A course can use any disciplinary or multi-disciplinary approach provided that a component of the course uses assignments or practica that encourage learning that comes from the cultural perspectives, values, and world views rooted in the experience of peoples indigenous to Hawai’i, the Pacific, and Asia.

H3. A course should include at least one topic that is crucial to an understanding of the histories, or cultures, or beliefs, or the arts, or the societal, or political, or economic, or technological processes of these regions; for example, the relationships of societal structures to the natural environment.

H4. A course should involve an in-depth analysis or understanding of the issues being studied in the hope of fostering multi-cultural respect and understanding.

  • The concept of intersection of Native Hawaiian culture with either or both of the other two regions is key. A course exclusively about Hawai’i, the Pacific Islands, or Asia is not eligible for an H designation. A course that does not include relationships with Native Hawaiian Culture is not eligible for an H designation.
  • The course design must include both the Native Hawaiian voice and the native voice from the indigenous people of the area of intersection. These could be represented through publications, videos, guest speakers, or field trips, for example.

Knowledge of a second language encourages deeper awareness of the structure of language and its relation to thought. It develops sensitivity to other ways of ordering personal experience and social institutions, provides a direct way of comparing another culture to one’s own, and provides insight into the workings of one’s native language.

Before graduation, students must show competence at the 202 (or equivalent) level in Hawaiian or a second language by doing one of the following:

  • a. Completing a four-semester sequence (usually 101, 102, 201, and 202) in a single language.
  • b. Demonstrating competence by taking a UH Manoa language-competency exam if one is offered. Check with the language department in question.
  • c. Receiving a language-requirement waiver by demonstrating 202-level second language competency. For example, waivers may be given to students who are native speakers of a language other than English. Contact an academic advisor in your college/school for further information.

Important Note: The Hawaiian or Second Language requirement has been modified or waived for students in the following schools and colleges: Shidler College of Business; College of Education; College of Engineering; John A. Burns School of Medicine; School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene; School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology; Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work; College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Students in these colleges/schools should consult a college/school advisor.

Students should be aware that changing their major may involve a change in their college/school and thus change their Hawaiian or Second Language requirement. A list of majors and their respective colleges/schools can be found in the Degrees section.

Credits for Previous Language Experience

ll students under the current General Education requirements with experience in a language other than English (including native speakers) may earn “back credits.” These students may take any UH Manoa course appropriate to their level of proficiency in which there is significant use of that language. (Appropriate level is determined by a placement exam or an advisor; significant use is determined by the course content.) Upon completion of this course, students will receive between 3 and 16 back credits if they earn a letter grade of C (not C-) or better. (The course must be the first Hawaiian or second language course taken since high school; and it must be taken for a letter grade, not CR/NC.) Back credits may be earned for only one language. Other restrictions apply. Check with the appropriate language department for details and forms.

Languages in which a Four-semester Sequence is Offered

Arabic, Cambodian (Khmer), Chamorro, Chinese (Mandarin), Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hawaiian, Hindi/Urdu, Ilokano, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Maori, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Samoan, Sanskrit, Spanish, Tahitian, Thai, Tongan, Vietnamese.

Some language courses are not offered regularly, and this is noted in the course description section of this Catalog.

American Sign Language also fulfills the language requirement. Courses in American Sign Language are not offered at UH Manoa, but the campus will consider students who complete American Sign Language to the second level of study as having met UH Manoa’s Hawaiian or Second Language requirement.

Petition Form for Back Credits

Students may review the guidelines and submit petitions to the appropriate language department for processing.

Important: Restrictions apply. Students should read and understand the back credit policy before submitting the petition form or taking a course.

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