One concern which people often have about self-taught knowledge is the lack of opportunities to prove that knowledge. It can be frustrating to devote a lot of time and energy towards learning something, and then having no means of being able to document that knowledge to a potential employer, or to gain college credit for it. In the case of languages, there are a number of foreign language certification exams available from numerous providers which help to solve this problem.
CLEP exams are probably the most commonly used test for gaining college credit. Amongst many other subjects, they offer language exams for French, German, and Spanish. Between 6 and 9 credit hours can be gained from these CLEP exams, which is a lot of college credit for the $85 fee.
For people who want a greater variety of languages and more college credit, the NYU language exams might be an option. Exams can be taken for 4, 12, or 16 points for fees ranging from $150 to $450. There are over 50 languages on offer, including many rare ones. It will soon be possible to take these exams without having to seek out a test proctor, as the exams are in the process of being moved online.
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) already offers the opportunity to take their certification exams in over 100 languages at home. Separate exams are offered in reading, writing, oral proficiency, and listening proficiency at various levels. The exams offer between 3 and 6 credit hours each.
In addition to these options, many foreign countries offer exams in their respective languages. Although they don’t directly translate into college credit, a language certificate from a country where the language is spoken is an excellent stand-alone qualification. Another advantage to these exams is that institutions like the Goethe-Institut and the Alliance Francaise test on a wider range of levels than most of the other options listed above. If you’re not in the position to spend months or years studying a foreign language abroad, there are many resources that you can use to do the actual learning at home, and then do a certification exam while on vacation in the country.