Language Exams

 I felt that the mandatory language exam required to get your PhD degree
 was a big joke and a hoax. I never came across anyone who failed during my
 years as a graduate student and I myself passed a French exam, not knowing
 a single word of French. I was commended on my translation despite a
 "small" mistake I had made. I translated a sentence to read something
 "... and then heat the mixture until it turned black", but it should
 been "... and then leave the mixture in dark". If I carried out the
 translation literally in a lab, you can imagine what could have happened
 (Thank God, I am not an experimental chemist). Almost everyone had a story
 to tell about their language exam. I suggested to our executive officer
 that they should consider giving a language exam in Sanskrit (since a lot
 of good old stuff may exist in Sanskrit). I forgot to tell him that I
 would fared as terribly as I did in French.
 In any case, for those of us coming from India, learning the American
 accent and deciphering what is going on in the first few classes should
 itself be considered as the language exam. Just passing an exam where
 people with dictionary look up words and translate does not necessarily
 mean some of the advantages discussed here such as how it helps in
 visiting foreign countries etc.